Just what has happened to the specimen river roach?

dezza

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I grew up in a small village, near to Worksop. It wasn't in Nottinghamshire but only just in Yorkshire, but there, only a cycle ride away, were the Rivers Ryton, Idle, Roche, Maun, Meden and Poulter.

Today, due to aquifer abstraction, a couple of those streams are mere trickles, however in my youth, they contained good fish of several species, the most notable being the roach of the river Idle.

However even this river paled into insignificance when compared with the Hampshire Avon and some of the other Southern streams. But due to distances and cost, the ability to fish these rivers was forbidden to myself, and still is now.

But something has happened, even to rivers like the Hampshire Avon. In most cases the roach are not there, not in reasonable quantity. And where are the big roach of the Wensum, and the other Norfolk rivers? Even the Severn, that maginificent waterway, the river that gave me my biggest ever roach is not what it was. Why in the early 90s you could fish a light link leger or stret peg with a stick float and catch up to 30 lbs of prime redfins, some of which went over the magic 2lbs mark. Men like Bill Leavesley and Des Taylor, both of Bewdley put me onto some marvellous roach fishing. As Bill Leavesley once told me, a 1 1/2 pound Severn roach is worth more than a hundred Borises.

But today, the fabulous catches are no more.

Thank goodness we few roach enthusiasts in the north have The Don, The Idle, the Rother and of course the mighty Trent.

2 pounders might be rare from these waters, many brilliant roach anglers of the past never even topped 2lbs from the Idle, a river known for producing very big roach. But I think that the realists amongst us are prepared to set our sights a little lower and appreaciate that a one pound roach is a thing of true beauty, magnificence, and a "gentle giant" as John Bailey describes them. And when you think about it, just how many one pound roach are taken from rivers today?

Are you planning a roach campaign this winter?
 
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preston96

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A 2lb river roach has always been a rare critter, even in the best days on the Severn a lot of roach had to be caught to get amongst the big fish.......sure we all fluked a fast one or two but amassing a bag was in my experience the best way.

I always have to have my roach trips during the winter Ron, and i have the perfect place lined up that still gives bags of them in the right conditions.

A tip i will give is to explore big river backwaters when the main river is tearing through and especially on the run off.
 

dezza

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I used to fish a classic "Mr Crabtree" cattle drink on the Ryton in my youth, near a village called Blyth. When the river was up in autumn and winter, I caught quite a few good roach up to 1 lb 11 oz from this spot by laying on with a redworm.

I remember a small drain which fed into the tidal Trent near the village of Littleborough. Not only was this a good pike spot, we caught excellent roach, loads of bleak and the odd chub and dace. The best bait was redworm. It fished very well after the Trent had flooded.

Do you know, I'll bet that spot has never been fished in yonks. Who knows what might be swimming under its dark surface.

But in those days we were for ever prospecting and exploring for new water.

I don't think the average angler does this anymore.
 
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Graham Whatmore

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The Severn still has some good roach fishing if you know where to fish and one of the best places is Stan Lewis's water above Bewdley as I have said more than once on here and now is the time to fish it. The lower Severn holds some big roach shoals and my biggest roach of 2.5lb came from Kempsey below Worcester but the best roach fishing by far is Hereford on the town water where roach in excess of 2lb and even a few over 3lb are regularly weighed in on the Hereford AA matches.

I think roach are more shoaled up in tight areas than they used to be in years gone by and I, like most anglers of a certain age can remember when roach were pretty much spread throughout a river, they were the matchmans target fish on most of them including the Trent. Many is the time I have weighed in big weights on the Trent matches and comprising mainly of roach with the odd chub thrown in.

They have declined in numbers quite plainly but there are still pockets of them in those rivers that once held massive shoals but why the decline? I don't know but from my knowledge of the Severn after the barbel were introduced when the roach (and dace incidentally) all but disappeared I think maybe the dreaded barbel has a lot of questions to answer along with the black death of course.
 

preston96

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You are soc on Graham, there are fewe
r pockets of roach but they are still there......my PB came from Hereford a few years back now, not one of the "3's" but getting there.

Hereford is indeed a great roach stretch and thankfully still is but i used to know of a couple of other "pockets" that seem to have "gone"..........though the dace seem to be coming back well.

It amazes me that some anglers seem to think of hemp/tares or hemp caster as summer baits, nuff said on that one, let em think it ;)

"Dreaded" barbel........i often wonder what the Severn and Teme would be like if the barbs hadn't been planted, ......... :wh
 

dezza

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You are soc on Graham, there are fewe
r pockets of roach but they are still there......my PB came from Hereford a few years back now, not one of the "3's" but getting there.

Hereford is indeed a great roach stretch and thankfully still is but i used to know of a couple of other "pockets" that seem to have "gone"..........though the dace seem to be coming back well.

It amazes me that some anglers seem to think of hemp/tares or hemp caster as summer baits, nuff said on that one, let em think it ;)

"Dreaded" barbel........i often wonder what the Severn and Teme would be like if the barbs hadn't been planted, ......... :wh

A hell of a lot better than they are now Brummie. I like barbel fishing and I have had some great times fishing for them, but only in the rivers where they belong.

I often met many on my Severn roving days, not match anglers either, who cursed the barbel.

It's a great shame that barbel have now permeated the full length of the Warks Avon.
 

Bob Roberts

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Methinks Ron is angling for a bite!

The river system you quote from your youth was destryoed circa 1980 when the largest pumps in Europe were installed below Haxey and the river was 'improved' by turning it into a trapezoidal 'fluid relief channel'. That's EA speak by the way.

Yes, it prevented a quarter of a million acres of land from going under water each winter but that's progress, eh?

Today much of the river is silting up as a result.

Ironically the draining if the flood plain below Bawtry has run into difficulties because the rare marsh marigold has been threatened and the EA now deliberately allows the very land they recovered to flood. Unfortunately the fish go with the water and get stranded.

In the past fish travelled both ways as the waters rose and fell but to facilitate the flooding a channel has been dug. Unfortunately it has a coffer dam adjacent the river which means fish can go over it on a flood but as the water level falls it maintains a depth of water behind it for marigolds to flourish and attract wading birds. Unfortunately the fish get stranded and as it slowly dries up they either die from suffocation or at the teeth of predators.

Check out my March blog entry - 2/3rds down the page.

here

As for the bite you were looking for - the roach have been eaten by cormorants, it's as simple as that. Yes, a few catches are made each year on the Trent and the Idle but they're isolated and made when the fish shoal tighly.

The tidal Trent used to come alive around the top of the tide with roach topping everywhere. Now you rarely see a one. That's because they are no longer there.

River roach are an endangered species. Those who say, 'not in my neck of the woods' are simply kidding themselves. Enjoy it while you can because it's only a matter of time...
 

dezza

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Oh by the way Brummie, casters are one of the best winter baits on the Idle, along with hemp, tares and creed wheat.

---------- Post added at 03:29 ---------- Previous post was at 03:19 ----------

Methinks Ron is angling for a bite!

The river system you quote from your youth was destryoed circa 1980 when the largest pumps in Europe were installed below Haxey and the river was 'improved' by turning it into a trapezoidal 'fluid relief channel'. That's EA speak by the way.

Yes, it prevented a quarter of a million acres of land from going under water each winter but that's progress, eh?

Today much of the river is silting up as a result.

Ironically the draining if the flood plain below Bawtry has run into difficulties because the rare marsh marigold has been threatened and the EA now deliberately allows the very land they recovered to flood. Unfortunately the fish go with the water and get stranded.



In the past fish travelled both ways as the waters rose and fell but to facilitate the flooding a channel has been dug. Unfortunately it has a coffer dam adjacent the river which means fish can go over it on a flood but as the water level falls it maintains a depth of water behind it for marigolds to flourish and attract wading birds. Unfortunately the fish get stranded and as it slowly dries up they either die from suffocation or at the teeth of predators.

Check out my March blog entry - 2/3rds down the page.

here

As for the bite you were looking for - the roach have been eaten by cormorants, it's as simple as that. Yes, a few catches are made each year on the Trent and the Idle but they're isolated and made when the fish shoal tighly.

The tidal Trent used to come alive around the top of the tide with roach topping everywhere. Now you rarely see a one. That's because they are no longer there.

River roach are an endangered species. Those who say, 'not in my neck of the woods' are simply kidding themselves. Enjoy it while you can because it's only a matter of time...
Thanks for responding Bob, I had hoped you would.

So great rivers like the Idle and Trent, the days are numbered.

Nothing to look forward to.

The only thing we can do is join the Angling Trust and let our voices be heard.
 

Ray Roberts

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I fished the river Medway near Wateringbury for two days last week. I didn't have any two pounders but loads of decent roach around the pound mark.

On day one I fished bread with liquidised bread and hemp as ground bait. On day two I float and feeder fished maggots and worm. The bread really sorted out the better specimens and I would guess the average size was at least double when using bread.

I did have a few bonus skimmers and a few perch on maggots and worm. I hadn't fished this particular stretch of river previously and not at Wateringbury for donkey's years, so I was really pleased with what I caught. All the fish seemed healthy enough and had no signs of predator attack.
 

Graham Whatmore

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The thing is Paul,while the barbel are being hunted the roach are left in peace to grow;)
Oh! no they aren't Fred and well you know it, the barbel raid the spawning beds which has helped decimate the numbers of roach and dace on the traditional roach rivers that have had barbel introduced. Don't get me wrong, I love catching barbel just as I do all coarse fish except perhaps carp but there is no denying the fact that those rivers that had barbel introduced suffered a decline in roach and dace as a consequence. Even the most ardent barbelite would have to admit that if he knew anything about our rivers that is.

After many years the barbel numbers decrease plus they spread out over the full length of the river which in turn sees a return of the roach and dace but they never get back to their previous numbers, in the case of the Severn it took nearly 40 years for this to happen.
 

Sean Meeghan

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It's not quite as bad as Ron paints it a bit further North! The 'industrial' rivers of West Yorkshire still give excellent roach fishing and there are even some biggies if you know where to look.

I'm planning a roach campaign this winter so watch this space!

Remember that much of the fishing we remember from the 50's, 60's and 70's was on polluted or recovering rivers and it does seem that roach prefer their environment on the mucky side. I can remember the Calder and the Aire in the late 80's producing some real quality roach, but as the water cleaned up the fishing gradually declined. The Calder still has excellent roach fishing, but doesn't produce the stamp of fish it used to, whilst the Aire suffers dreadfully from insecticide pollution from sheep dip, which makes the coarse fish population marginal.

Even the cleanliness of our rivers is managed on an industrial scale, with chemically cleaned water, laced with a weird cocktail of hormones, drug residues and insecticide being pumped back into them. Rivers in the UK have been polluted for as long as people have lived near them and fish have benefitted from this until the rise of industrial society.
 

dezza

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So are we all to see the roach go the way of the burbot?

Actually Graham you have made a few good points regarding barbel.

Dare I say it? Yes I will.

I would like to see The Barbel Society and all the other specialist groups throw off their exclusivity for one species of fish and all get together to reform the National Association of Specialist Anglers again.

The fragmentation we have seen amongst many anglers, each fragment fishing for one species of fish, we can do without! We are entering a new era where solidarity amongst all who fish with rod and line, against the government and the antis, is becoming more and more important.

I do hope that many will recognise that the single species groups are retrograde.
 
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slime monster

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The river Sow in Stafford is a prime example of how a quality Roach river can be decimated by so called improvements and flood defence schemes, I fished with a few old boys in my youth in Stafford and they told me of the days when Roach anglers travelled hundreds of miles to fish it in the town and above until it was lowered becoming nothing more than a shallow stream in places choked with weed ,such a shame as some is free fishing but now you would have to pay me to fish parts of it.
 

dezza

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It's not quite as bad as Ron paints it a bit further North! The 'industrial' rivers of West Yorkshire still give excellent roach fishing and there are even some biggies if you know where to look.

I'm planning a roach campaign this winter so watch this space!

Remember that much of the fishing we remember from the 50's, 60's and 70's was on polluted or recovering rivers and it does seem that roach prefer their environment on the mucky side. I can remember the Calder and the Aire in the late 80's producing some real quality roach, but as the water cleaned up the fishing gradually declined. The Calder still has excellent roach fishing, but doesn't produce the stamp of fish it used to, whilst the Aire suffers dreadfully from insecticide pollution from sheep dip, which makes the coarse fish population marginal.

Even the cleanliness of our rivers is managed on an industrial scale, with chemically cleaned water, laced with a weird cocktail of hormones, drug residues and insecticide being pumped back into them. Rivers in the UK have been polluted for as long as people have lived near them and fish have benefitted from this until the rise of industrial society.
Thanks for your input on this thread Sean.

We must try and get together and catch some of the big roach in West Yorkshire. It's a part of Yorkshire I don't know too well/

See you at Haxey.
 

Fred Bonney

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Ah but Graham, they are there and in good numbers now though.
We can all relate to things that shouldn't have been done,all water under the bridge now.
Can't agree with Bob about the Trent either, although to be fair I haven't yet had a good go at the tidal.

---------- Post added at 13:15 ---------- Previous post was at 13:09 ----------

and Ron, you really must get up to date!!!

Avon Roach Project Latest News

---------- Post added at 13:18 ---------- Previous post was at 13:15 ----------

and

http://www.fishingmagic.com/forums/club-non-commercial-events/39344-barbel-society-presents.html


Note the theme!
 

dezza

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So when are we to have a roach fishing week at Sutton Fred.

There are a few good roach in that part of the Trent I can assure you.

Come in Steve Pope.

---------- Post added at 06:25 ---------- Previous post was at 06:20 ----------

Ah but Graham, they are there and in good numbers now though.
We can all relate to things that shouldn't have been done,all water under the bridge now.
Can't agree with Bob about the Trent either, although to be fair I haven't yet had a good go at the tidal.

---------- Post added at 13:15 ---------- Previous post was at 13:09 ----------

and Ron, you really must get up to date!!!

Avon Roach Project Latest News

---------- Post added at 13:18 ---------- Previous post was at 13:15 ----------

and

http://www.fishingmagic.com/forums/club-non-commercial-events/39344-barbel-society-presents.html


Note the theme!
Fred, I can't applaud what the BS are doing more. Does this mean you are leading the specialist angling world back to a new NASA?

If this is so I will re-join you tomorrow.

Mind you I never did leave NASA.
 

Michael Townsend 3

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The main reason for the 'vanishing specimen river roach' are cormorants.
You missed out the tiny River Torne when you named your local roach rivers Ron. This river, along with the others you mentioned, was alive with specimens until the last 10 to 15 years.
All the rivers mentioned, Wensum, Severn etc, all have the odd remaining shoal of specimen redfins that have escaped the black death, but they are isolated cases. If you want to find good roach on the rivers these days, look for stretches that either have an active keeper (who shoots the cormorants) A stretch with lots of trees lining the banks (that prevents them landing and taking off) or a stretch lined with houses or that's popular with dog walkers (human activity scares them away)
It's no coincidence that when you find such a length of river, good redfins are often present.

Also take into account abstraction, more barbel being introduced into rivers (I've no evidence that this is a reason, but the rivers can only support x amount of fish) and the reduction of flood relief channels (like the old dead arm off the Idle at Bawtry) and the future of my favourite fish in rivers looks grim.

Luckily, I do know local stretches of rivers that will allow me to catch roach to well over a pound, but that was once possible from nearly every stretch of every river.
 
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