John Bailey's Roach Obsession Diary

john step

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That folding a maggot over the hook point seems to be a favourite roach trick. I have often wondered how they do it.
 

Wakou

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@John Bailey Is there anywhere or way to read about this whole enterprise from the start? I tried just now... Because you are listed as 'guest' I could not even list all of your posts!
 

flightliner

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That folding a maggot over the hook point seems to be a favourite roach trick. I have often wondered how they do it.
Peter, I think it's possible that when the roach suspects that the bait it so innocently took into its mouth becomes suspicious its instinct is to "blow" it backwards.
In the case of a hook baited with maggots its
one that sits directly facing the bend and in line with the "blow" that can be directed towards and over it causing the bumping off.
Just my thoughts tho.
 

whitty

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I reckon you have it in one Mick,it happens on single maggot too,when it was cold last week I lost several like it,buggers,lol....
 
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Kirsty Hewitt

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@John Bailey Is there anywhere or way to read about this whole enterprise from the start? I tried just now... Because you are listed as 'guest' I could not even list all of your posts!
It's a quirk of the software unfortunately, but I'm going to merge the threads now as agree it makes much more sense to have this as one thread!
 

Kirsty Hewitt

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Hi all,
I've merged the 5 'Roach Obsession' threads - apologies if the comments now appear in a strange order. Future instalments from John will appear at the end of the thread!
 

John Bailey

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Roach Obsession Diary...5.00pm 18/12/20

Yesterday was a day away from the river after pike with the Nash team of Alan Blair, Dan Yeomans and colleague Alfie, seen here holding a PB of 28.02. How can you resent a diversion like this? Alfie had never even seen a pike of this magnitude and when I slipped the net under it, he went into an orbit of complete excitement and delight. His Christmas had come early and we were all as thrilled as he was. Alfie, you are a great guy to fish with and enjoy your moment my friend.

Today was a magnificent day to be out on the river. Grey. Mild. Barely even a breeze. But no. Work, work and more work and all I could do was slip downriver on dusk and put in the bread mash. Tomorrow too will be difficult. I am out Broadland way on a perching mission but Sunday, yes, come what may, I’ll be there as the shadows fall. I’m yet to look at a forecast but I don’t care. That is over a dozen baitings and it really is now or never for me.

The Obsession Grows!!

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John Bailey

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Roach obsession Diary - 5.23pm 21/12/20

The good news first. At 3.20pm a stunning barn owl appeared on the flood meadow, at first opposite me and then above and behind me. It stayed with me till darkness came in fully and then it was lost to the night. Fifty years ago such a sight here was common. Today it is as special as Christmas, if I can mention that word in this strange period. Its hushed silence. Its grace and agility. Its blending of browns and creams and pure whites. A bird of hope, surely, in these sore times.

But to the fishing that broke my heart - yet again. Within minutes the tip hooped round and I struck into thin air. Such positivity could not be a crayfish, could it? But the next five bites were hit and five crayfish paid the price. Back in the day blanks were suffered and expected and they were nowhere near as demoralising as these false bites that turn the night so sour. I’m not exactly how long I can endure this plague. Tomorrow again the weather looks sound so my plan is to attack early with float and maggots to see if there is any sign of fish coming to a moving bait. Another throw of the dice. Another day, another session of hope...
 

The Sogster

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Put a dropnet in the edge with a tin of catfood with a few holes pierced into it,tied to the net hours of endless shell crunching fun....
First mentioned to me by an Aussie 25 years ago in relation to predator fishing. The really cheap really fishy stuff works best allegedly.
Not something I've ever tried though, most places I fish have a no tins rule.
 

Philip

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When you pre-bait for the Roach with Bread you could also try to bait a second area slightly away from the Roach spot with something the crays like more to try and separate them.

Not fool proof but might win you enough time to get a bite from a Roach.
 

peterjg

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Fishing for big roach can be (and usually is) absolutely soul destroying where there are signal crayfish. It's a waste of time and effort prebaiting because all you do is attract the crayfish into your swim. Signal crayfish eat anything and everything but the one roach bait they are least fond of is sweetcorn - but even that is not immune from their attentions. However; in clear shallow water I have seen the crayfish totally ignore sweetcorn and actually crawl over it.
 

John Bailey

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Whoops, this one should have been posted a little earlier, sorry guys!

Roach obsession Diary..4.30 pm/20/12/20

I’m early writing this because it all went to pot before casting in. As promised, today was going to be the day and in a blissful 9 degrees, Enoka (better half) and I walked with rod, net, bait bucket and bits and bobs across the meadows. The light was glorious and this, I half felt, was going to be the night. Then, tucked well out of sight in the middle of a flood plain copse, was a car. What on earth was it doing out here, in the wilds, in the dusk? I sniffed around it and saw from bread wrappers in the back that this was an angler’s vehicle. Enoka and I hid up the gear and crept along the bank, making use of the shadows to keep out of sight.

Then we saw him. I knew it. Norfolk’s Expert Chub Angler. He’d been tantalising me for two years on the whereabouts of his big ‘uns and now I knew. That was good but if he saw me with gear he’d know what I was up to and where and that was BAD. So, keeping well out of NECA’s sight, Enoka and I collected the gear, made a wide detour and plodded our way back to the farm.

What nonsense! Both NECA and I are of extremely ripe years and here we were ( me at least) behaving like jealous teenagers. This could have been 1970, not 2020, when Wilson and I were at the secret squirrel game. We’d catch a big roach from the Wensum and report it from the Bure. Then we’d catch one from the Bure and tell the world it was from the Yare. When we went to the Yare and succeeded, we’d announce yet another “two” as a Waveney fish. When we walloped one out from the Waveney, yes, you’ve guessed it, it obviously came from the Wensum. Right back to square one. We probably fooled no one but ourselves and yet half a century on and I am STILL at it. Now I am sitting here feeling a complete plonker, ashamed that old habits die hard. And of course, still without a roach! Tomorrow for sure providing NECA didn’t do well tonight and doesn’t decide to turn up once again!

I leave you with a shot of a Broadland heron, an angler with more sense than me!!

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John Bailey

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Roach Obsession Diary-9.00AM 23/12/20

You might have noticed I am writing this the morning after the night before. The fact is that Enoka ( better half!) and I decided to give it our all as the evening was mild and windless. We got to the far swim around 2pm and upped sticks at 8pm. We caught two good sticks and I gave up counting the crayfish when we got to fifty...yes..FIFTY. You could not keep a bait out there for more than a couple of minutes before we got the familiar tap, tap, tap of a taking crustacean.

One of our FM family said I was mad to embark on this quest in the first place and now I am happy to agree with him. Last night, we teetered on the edge of insanity. There are certainly a scattering of big chub left in the stretch. Who knows, there might be a handful of roach, even big ones, here and there, miles apart, always roaming, never pinned down? But contacting them, never mind catching them , is a job beyond even me. The barn owl has been a consolation. My fifty year old memories of the place still burn so bright that even now I get a frisson of excitement when I see the familiar curve of the river, the same trees now fully grown and hear the selfsame , deepest silence of the gathering dusk. Only, and importantly, the fish are missing.

So what now? There yawns the emptiness of this strange, unique festive season when nothing threatens to break the peaceful rhythm of life. My feeling is that the Roach Obsession WILL continue but now on stretches that offer a chance of hooking a fish that swims rather than crawls. That brings up the mystery of why some sections of river (the Wensum still) are comparatively prolific whist others are all but barren. The legacy of the dredger must play a part and the stretch of river we have just left bears that out. It is still as desolate and featureless as it was when the last infernal dredger left it 40 years ago. Never think Nature can put back what we destroy. Some wounds are eternal..by our human yardsticks anyway. Predation is core. It is no coincidence that the best pieces of river anywhere these days are close to human commotion of some kind. The aching silence of “our stretch” beckons a welcome to otter and cormorant alike.

So here goes. More “normal” roach fishing on more “normal” beats of river. At least this change of tack might give you , my followers and partners in this, something to read about and something constructive to think about. And who knows. Supposing I achieved a “Two”? That at least would bring light into this dark Christmas of ours.

Enjoy it to the hilt, as much as you can. Thank you for being with me through the ups and downs of a river roach angler’s life in the tough years of the 21st Century!
 

John Bailey

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Roachers, thank you for getting back to me on my crackpot Obsession. It’s good to know I’m not on my own out there in the dark!
Re catching MORE crayfish?! Well, I’d only want to do that IF the EA allowed us to use dead crays caught from the river being fished as bait. I can see no logic whatsoever in not permitting this. I believe they demand that any crayfish coming our way is simply crushed underfoot on the bank and left to rot. Putting them back on a big hook and being cast out hardly seems like breaking any environmental law to me.
I spent many hours on a bridge across the Wensum watching dace, chub , roach and crayfish feeding over beds of sweet corn. This was an experience that lasted for two years and the lessons were profound. I have to say the crays DID tuck into the corn but the chub frequently tucked into them! If a cray turned over in the current and lost footing, it would generally be picked off fast. Even small fish, minnows included, showed no fear of crays whatsoever and would frequently pull corn out of their very claws. Never once did I see a small fish troubled, never mind actually caught.
I really do appreciate your thoughts and keep them coming but on this one I see no answer apart from catch a zillion crays and hope one bite eventually results in something with fins!
 

xenon

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Roachers, thank you for getting back to me on my crackpot Obsession. It’s good to know I’m not on my own out there in the dark!
Re catching MORE crayfish?! Well, I’d only want to do that IF the EA allowed us to use dead crays caught from the river being fished as bait. I can see no logic whatsoever in not permitting this. I believe they demand that any crayfish coming our way is simply crushed underfoot on the bank and left to rot. Putting them back on a big hook and being cast out hardly seems like breaking any environmental law to me.
I spent many hours on a bridge across the Wensum watching dace, chub , roach and crayfish feeding over beds of sweet corn. This was an experience that lasted for two years and the lessons were profound. I have to say the crays DID tuck into the corn but the chub frequently tucked into them! If a cray turned over in the current and lost footing, it would generally be picked off fast. Even small fish, minnows included, showed no fear of crays whatsoever and would frequently pull corn out of their very claws. Never once did I see a small fish troubled, never mind actually caught.
I really do appreciate your thoughts and keep them coming but on this one I see no answer apart from catch a zillion crays and hope one bite eventually results in something with fins!
Think the trick of creating a diversion with a tin of pierced cat food is worth a go. I had similar trouble on a stretch of the GU near Croxley-infested with the buggers, but a tin in the margin certainly helped, a lot.
 

John Bailey

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Roach obsession Diary - 4pm 24/12/20

Well, I’m done for the next two days at least. A VILE weather report, north easterlies and frosts on their way, rain ceaselessly for 48 hours, a river all over the place AND rising, crayfish crawling into our very garden and Boris decides we go into Tier 4. Even though ALL I want for Christmas is a big roach, there have to be limits even for me. But I’ll be BACK!
Have a merry and healthy holiday all you Redfinners!

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