Waters: Medium to slow-flowing rivers, lakes and reservoirs, eanals and streams.
Baits: Bread, cheese, maggots, casters, hempseed, tares, wheat, sweetcorn, elderberry. Techniques: Float (trotting, laying-on), leger, feeder-leger.
The roach is probably the most important coarse fish sought by anglers. It does not grow large – one of 3 lb (1.3kg) is rare, although it can reach over4Ib (1.8kg)-and although the roach has a very wide distribution the bigger specimens are not at all common. One of 2 lb (0.9kg) is regarded as the fish of a lifetime by most coarse anglers. The fish has a dark greenish back, with the Hanks usually silvery, and the larger specimens have a brassy sheen. The fins are pinkish or orange, and the iris oftheeyeisred.
Roach-bream hybrids are very common in waters that hold both species, and when large hybrids have been caught they have often been claimed as roach rod-caught records only to be disallowed when proper identification has been made.
The hybrid is silvery, with even a bluish tint. It has a forked tailfin, typically a bream feature, as is the anal fin. The numbers of rays in the dorsal and anal fins are reliable clues to identity, but for absolute identification the pharyngeal bones must be removed and studied. This unfortunately means killing the fish, a process very reluctantly adopted if the fish is large.
Roach are shoal fish, so the angling technique is to get the shoal in the swim and hold it there by groundbaiting and feeding. The fish is a fast-biter, so expertise in striking is an asset to the angler.
Hempseed is a fine bait for roach, but although it brings the bites, they are often so quick that only a small percentage of the fish are hooked. So more usually the hemp is used as feed, orgroundbait, while the hook is baited with a tare, a caster or an elderberrv. Sometimes the roach will
Teed near the bottom, close in under the rod top. This is the time to bring in the baitdropper. Which can be used to good effect to keep a shoal of fish feeding in the swim.
Stewed wheat is often used in the autumn, especially for the bigger roach. Many anglers prefer maggots. Using a technique of heavily feeding with lots of loose maggots. The small roach in the swim gorge themselves on this feed and eventually move off. At this point, the big specimen roach move in, to be tempted by hookbait.
When trotting a float-suspended bait for river roach, use a fairly soft-actioned carbon rod with a centrepin reel. This tackle will enable you to obtain the best possible bait presentation, a point which is vital in roach fishing. The bait can be made to travel at the speed of the current, or it can be made to move very slowly across the bottom, to be coaxed over snags, ridges and weeds. This style is really deadly for big roach. The centrepin must have a large diameter to help line recovery, and if it is wide- drummed and without handles it will help to prevent tangles. Fewer tangles caused by wind action will be met if the line comes off the top of the drum rather than the bottom, and this will also give better line control.
The use of a centrepin restricts you to fishing close in, because the reel is not designed for casting to any distance. So when casting and trotting farther out the centrepin will have to be exchanged for a standard fixed-spool or a close-faced reel.
Terminal tackle is generally dictated by conditions on the day. But if you carry a good range of stick floats you will be equipped to fish most swims. The shot are normally spaced out evenly along the line between the float and a small hook.
For long-range roach fishing in both running and Stillwater, use a straight waggler float with a fine peacock quill insert for sensitivity. In water down to 8ft (2.4m) deep the float is fished fixed, attached bottom only and locked in position by the bulk of the shot. Space a few light shot between the float and the hook. Depending on the depth and the strength of the current.
When fishing a deeper swim, the waggler is often best fished as a slider float. In this case the bulk of the shot is placed at a depth of 8ft (2.4m), with a no. 4 shot halfway between the hook and the bulk of the shot. A no. 8 shot goes on the line about 1 Sin. (46cm) from the hook. Tie on a stop knot at the depth of the water to ensure that the float is held at the correct depth, and this completes the tackle.
This basic rig can be used with a variety of baits in many different waters in summer when big roach are-being sought. In the evening when conditions are not so bright. Sweetcorn fished as a single grain on a size 14 hook, over a carpet of maggots or hemp, is most successful. Care must be taken with this method, however, for it is liable to attract large fish of other species.
Legering with a quivertip-mounted rod using bread bait is a very popular roaching method, and one that is favoured by many specimen hunters. This style is most effective for big roach in cold, wintry conditions; the Bread flake is legered over mashed bread groundbait. Naturally, the same style can be used at oilier limes of the year and with a variety ofbaits, bin bread has been proved to be a particularly good bait during the winter months.
Swim feeder legering can also bring excellent results. Both open and blockend feeders work well, but make a point of using small or medium-sized ones because the larger feeders. With their greater capacity, tend to attract other species.
When feeder legering in rivers in winter, use a quivertip rod with a fixed-spool reel. Add some extra weight to a small feeder so that it just holds bottom, and allow the current to form a bow in the line, producing a nice curve in the quivertip. Asa fish picks up the bait it moves the feeder. Which is just balanced by its weight and the tension in the line.
Bite registration appears as a slack-line movement as the quivertip springs back to the straight position. A firm strike by the angler normally results in a roach on its way to the landing net.
Waters: Lakes, ponds, some rivers and canals.
Baits: Bread, maggots, redworms.
Techniques: Float, floating crust.
Sizeable rudd are deep in the body and hump-backed. The colour runs from dark green-brown on the back. Shading to a bronze or silvery bronze on the flanks, with a creamy white belly. The fins are red and the eyes are a golden red. On average they weigh 8-9oz(225-255g).
There is often confusion between the rudd and the roach, but there are external features that distinguish one from the other. The mouth of the rudd is more down-turned than that of the roach, and the dorsal fin is positioned behind the base of the pelvic fins. In the roach the dorsal is situated immediately above the pelvics. For certain identification the fish must be killed and dissected to allow the shape of the pharyngeal bones, or throat teeth, to be examined.
Rudd are surface and midwater feeders, so float fishing is probably the most successful method for catching them. They are usually attracted by a slow-sinking or falling bait, so the tackle should be rigged with the minimum amount of shot on the line. Positioned well up from the hook to allow it and the bait to sink gently.
On rivers, trotting is often the best method and any of the usual baits may be tried. As usual, the size of hook bait selected will depend on the average size of rudd found in the water.
Groundbait or feed should consist ofsamplesofhookbait,with the addition of a light cloudbait. Small offerings of the feed should be tossed in at the lop of the swim at almost every cast. The hookbait being worked to sink with the samples.
On small lakes and ponds rudd tend to be very prolific, to the extent that they overstock the water. These huge populations are invariably all stunted adults weighing 2-3oz (55-85g) each. Fishing contests held on such waters demand speed on the part of the match angler who will have to work hard to take a few pounds of very small fish.
These fish are often very easy to catch using a light float, small hook and single maggot. Big rudd of 2 lb 11 kg) or more are a very different proposition. When seeking these bigger fish on a large lake some time may be needed to locate a shoal. If a boat can be obtained the task will be easier, and it will enable the angler to search along the fringes of weed beds. The shoals may not be dense, perhaps only a dozen fish, but it is possible that among them you will find one or two good specimens.
Once the shoal has been located, edge the boat cautiously into position as far from them as possible. The float tackle should be the lightest you have – a tiny peacock quill will do, with hook and bait size to match. The rudd can be induced to stay and feed by flicking in a few hookbait samples.
Although rudd feed on live insects and crustaceans, they are not generally regarded as predatory fish. However, several big specimens have been caught on small spinners cast out to lure other species of fish.