We spent the day in search of specimen Roach yesterday, that is to say, fish of two pounds and over. They are one of the most abundant species in Ireland, but certainly not at that particular size, and a specimen is considered a rare achievement.
One local lake on my hit-list has been extremely kind to me over the years, giving up its fair share of quality Roach, and we opted to give it a try. It has been almost twelve months since my last visit, and I was keen to see how it fished.
The usual team, including myself, Glenn Drennan and Andrew Wolsey attacked the venue using standard waggler and maggot tactics over an initial bed of ground-bait, hempseed and sweet corn. Excessive ground-baiting with plenty of particles usually helps to “feed off” the smaller fish, allowing the specimens to cruise in, looking for the larger morsels.
We soon had Roach queuing up, but the shoals would only stay a few minutes, and then disperse as quickly as they arrived. This was extremely erratic but typical of this lake. The large head of small pike find a feeding shoal easy pickings and frustratingly scatter them at every opportunity. However, being aware of this problem, we always include our back-up plan!
By dropping a dead-bait rod alongside each target area, we pick-off quite a few predators en-route to our Roach shoals, giving some respite at least, allowing longer spells of activity. It isn’t fool-proof by any means, but certainly helps to some extent. I managed to eliminate six small pike and Andy cleared out another four. I say eliminate, but what I mean is catch, walk about two hundred yards, and release, hopefully annoying the pike sufficiently to stay away for a few hours!
This helped enormously, allowing Andy and I to continue our Roach fishing to some extent. Glenn, however, failed to tempt any pike, and his Roach swim remained somewhat “on and off” throughout the day. Eventually by late afternoon, Glenn’s pike rod received some interest and he was soon attached to an angry “croc”. We quickly realised that this was a little larger than a pestering Jack pike when Andy tried to net it in his match net! This one would have to be chinned at the water’s edge!
I chinned the fish for Glenn, and she was a cracking pike in absolutely immaculate condition. Little wonder that the Roach were acting “cagey”! Imagine trying to feed with that lady lurking behind you! The Roach were temporarily forgotten as Glenn’s prize took the limelight for a quick weigh-in and photo-shoot. She “pipped” the scales at over twenty pounds, and settled an old score for Glenn. Having nudged the twenty mark on many occasions, it’s been many years since his last twenty, and I am relieved to say we now have peace and harmony back in our fishing team!
The large Roach failed to show; un-surprisingly, only managing fish to a pound and a half, but the surprise lunker that had been happily munching her way through our specimen fish was a spectacular bonus, and we forgive her for making our challenge even tougher!