I was really buzzing the other week having achieved the all too rare feat of landing a brace of two pound river roach from the once famous Hampshire Avon near Salisbury. Although I guess I’ve been reasonably successful catching specimen sized roach, having landed well over 50 from seven different UK rivers, this is the first brace I have even seen, let alone caught, for over 12 years. The reason for the decline of big roach was staring me in the face with two of this lovely three fish catch bearing nasty stab wounds from cormorants despite all being too big for the birds to easily eat.
All my fish came float fishing with breadflake along a far bank run using my favourite 15 ft Daiwa Tournament rod, a 5AAA Drennan loafer and a No12 hook to 3lbs line. Having landed a couple of modest chub from an easier backwater to ‘save a blank day’ I headed off to an area where some pockets of roach are known to have survived. After two biteless hours trotting through a number of swims I returned to my original spot opposite a willow tree just as the light was fading which I had feed earlier with breadmash stiffened with sausage rusk. The float buried and my rod tip danced to the wonderfully unmistakable thumps of a big river roach as she surfaced in midstream and tried to shed the hook. The first fish weighed two pounds exactly and was in pristine condition. The second came a couple of trots later and was 2.02 and, when it was too dark to properly see the float, I had a third of 1.12 by simply striking and guessing !
These magnificent specimen roach, that were once a regular feature on rivers like the Avon, are now as rare as rocking horse shit thanks to 20 years of cormorant predation. When two out of three big roach like this are carrying wounds what chance do the rest of the diminishing roach population have of attaining their full potential? I am urging every angler to get behind the Angling Trust’s Action on Cormorants campaign. There are still plenty of postcards left in the tackle shops that need sending off to MPs and we need them to arrive before the Xmas recess. I am lucky to have caught a fair few specimen roach but I want the next generation to be able to do the same. These beautiful fish have swum in our rivers since the last Ice Age and they deserve our respect and protection.