A good friend of mine, Bob McDonald, has occasional access to some very private water in North Northamptonshire on a lovely estate and, when I am lucky enough, I am sometimes invited to join him for a roach fishing session. Such was the case last week on a day when the bitter winter weather had relented for a short spell (in fact I don’t think either of us donned our wellies or top coats during the entire day).
It was sheer joy to sit on cropped grass surrounded by ten thousand snowdrops on a completely calm and sunny day with several red kites effortlessly circling above, and neither of us was in any hurry to get set up. The plan was to fish a really beautiful stream, which feeds the two main lakes on the estate. In the past a light stick-float outfit was all that had been needed to half-fill a keep-net with quality roach, and when my first trot down produced a positive bite and a hard fighting 8oz fish, I thought to myself “Here we go again!”. My confidence was reinforced when, a few minutes later, I hooked and netted a lovely scale-perfect roach of 1lb 6oz – what a place!
As things turned out, the stretch was absolutely solid with small fish of some 4” in length and, despite all our efforts with larger baits like bread and sweet-corn, the little beggars dived on the hooks one after another until we became somewhat weary of catching them.
We changed tactics – Bob hooking on a small roach and tossing it into the vicinity of where a large fish had swirled, whilst I started walking upstream 50 yards to a swim where the keeper had told us that there were some decent chub in residence. I had only just set off when there came a shout from Bob and, back-tracking, I was able to net a nice pike of 10lbs 8oz, which had engulfed the bait as it hit the surface!
Bob confirmed that he had seen a much larger fish show in the same spot, and hooking on another little roach was soon attached to it – this one in perfect condition and weighing in at exactly 15lbs. After a quick photo this beauty was returned to join its pals, and I made my way up to the chub swim to try my luck. Although the stream was only about two feet in depth, the advice given had been good, and three strong-fighting chub of two-and-a-half to three pounds soon joined the other fish in my keep-net – a great thrill to play in fast water with a match-rod and 3lbs line!
Needing a change from the ‘one-every-chuck’ small roach I then wandered up to the car and threaded up my pike fly-rod and slow-sink shooting head with the idea of poaching Bob’s swim for a toothy monster! The back-casting was severely restricted by trees just here, but the spot looked very pikey and I was not at all surprised when my yellow fly was gobbled up by a nice specimen of about 8lbs, bringing to an end a lovely days mixed bag for me. Bob, not to be out-done, added another nice pike of 7lbs to the day’s catch, again on a small roach.
We decided to call it a day, well-pleased with our efforts, and were both back at home well before rush hour. Thus ended a wonderful little session – the like of which is normally reserved for dreams!! Another “good lickle memory”, as one of my boys once said!