Gravel Pit Roach
Carp 52lb 2oz (UK) 52lb (France), Tench 10lb 12oz, Bream 18lb 2oz, Barbel 17lb 12oz, Chub 7lb, Roach 3lb 1oz, Rudd 2lb 12oz, Pike 30lb 4oz, Perch 4lb 3oz, Zander 10lb 4oz.
The River Wensum
The huge Wensum barbel
Just recently I have also experienced some great rudd fishing in the cambridgeshire fens catching many rudd to nearly 3lb. They are awesome looking fish and I hope to crack the 3lb barrier next summer.
In Search of a Three.
For several winters I've been chasing my dream roach, I've walked miles along the rivers of east anglia and spent hours on my local gravel pits in search of an elusive 3lb plus roach.
I dont feel a 3lber exists in the rivers local to me anymore? It seems mega difficult to catch fish over the magic 2lb mark due to the comorant and otter predation on the rivers. But i have been successful on the wensum catching a string of large roach to 2lb 6oz in recent winters. A 2lb river roach is a very special fish indeed and i've been over the moon with each one that has graced my net.
But I have to be realistic about my search for a dream 3lber and tackle the gravel pits. It seems the perfect enviroment for big gravel pit roach is a pit that doesnt have a huge head of tench or bream. Most of the pits i've discovered that hold specimen sized roach seem to have a good head of carp and then the next fish on the food chain is the roach. Maybe it's a constant supply of high protein carp baits have upped the size of the roach?
Another factor that seems constant on big roach producing gravel pits is they normally have crystal clear water and a high average depth.
The pit that I had been fishing this week for the specimen sized roach was a pit I first fished for pike several winters ago, and while pike fishing it back then I noticed a large amount of roach rolling on dusk some of then looked very large. Since that winter i've spend a few sessions catching some cracking roach to 2lb 12oz and felt the next bite could be that dream 3lber?
The biggest problem with targeting big roach is the amount of small roach you catch along the way. So on this trip I decided to try a slightly different approach. I was fishing at fairly long range probably between 60-70 yards where the roach had been showing. But instead of my normal bolt rig maggot feeder approach I was using a small 1oz inline lead with a short mono hooklink with a size 14 hook and two hair rigged fake casters. I then spodded a mixture of maggot,caster,hemp and 2mm sonubaits feed pellets onto the spot. Little golf ball sized pva bags of caster,maggot and sonubaits explosive feeder groundbait were attached to my rig before casting to the spots.
This method seemed to reduce the amount of small roach I was catching and most of the time when my bobbin dropped back it would be a roach of 12oz plus. About 6.30pm my bobbin bounced up and down before falling to the floor and as I lifted the rod from the rest i could feel the tell tale head shaking of a large roach. I played the fish very gently as if my life depended on landing it, they really do have a nasty habbit of falling off especially when playing them from long range. I was begining to wish i had put a length of feeder gum above my rig when i saw what looked like a good 2lber darting along the margins in the crystal clear water, in my head I was thinking "please stay on, please dont bump off!" Then as it slid into the waiting net I knew it would be a new pb and thought maybe at last I'd cracked the 3lb barrier? I left the big roach resting in the net as i rushed around zeroing the scales and setting the camera up on the tripod. As I lifted the roach up on the scales i was over the moon when the needle settled on 3lb 1oz! After so many seasons of searching I had finally done it... my dream roach of 3lb. It looked enormous! Perfect in every way, without a mark on it! As I slipped it back into the margins it looked more like a chub as it swam off.
I continued to fish through the night but to be honest i had a very laid back approach after the big roach, and part of the night I left my rods reeled in as I was more than happy with my new pb. Although I was rudely awoken by a very hard fighting common carp of 18lb that took a liking to my rubber casters.
When I woke in the morning under just my shelter I felt the top of my sleeping bag an discovered it was covered in a layer of ice! The temperature had plummeted and I was surrounded by a heavy frost.
I had a few more roach that morning as well as another mid double carp and a large hybrid that I thought was going to be another mega roach. But I packed up as soon as everything thawed out more than happy with the result of a 3lber.