Sam Whittaker embarks on a Belgian road trip, which all came good in the end!
Jester – Roach Head
24th May 2021
Jester runs us through his extreme range capture of one of his most desirable targets…
Having turned up after work on Friday afternoon, I was met with the standard business of a bank holiday weekend. Knowing where the fish were and also chatting to the angler in the swim in question, it transpired he would be vacating it in the morning, so I opted to chuck my bedchair up, have a few beers with the lads and kip under the stars, waiting it out until morning.
I was up at first light and decided to walk down the road and round to the public footpath to view the out of bounds area I intended to fish across to, assessing where I really needed those rods to be. I quickly started seeing subtle signs of fish rocking the water in the shallow marginal shelf, followed by blatant shows out in the deeper water… so it definitely was worth wasting a night to get the swim.
By late morning I was finally in the chosen swim, by which point the wind really couldn’t have been more prime for the area I wished to fish. Quickly checking in with my mate next door, he gave me the green light to fish as far along the far margin as I wanted. Not needing any encouragement, I wrapped the leading rod up at 198 yards and absolutely sent the float over to the base of the far marginal shelf. Hammering the clip, it got a good solid drop in a nice depth of water that would be swan and chicken proof.
Grabbing a catapult and some bait I walked back down the road and round to the public footpath to pult out a few kilos of Krill all around the float. I purposely dropped a few baits on top of the shelf to give the fish milling about on the shallows a taster, hoping they’d follow the bait trail down the shelf as the sun dropped come evening time. By the time I’d almost finished pulting the bait out, I already had fish ‘tails up’ on the shallows!
Getting back to the swim, it was a simple case of whipping the long hinges, fished high off the bottom to the same clip where the marker float once was. It was one of those days where each rod landed bang on, on it’s first cast with sweet drops… if only it went like that all the time! To say I was buzzing was an understatement.
After whiling away the afternoon and evening with a few beers over a BBQ, I was full of anticipation as the sun started to drop, saying to my mates all day it would be evening bites. Well I wasn’t far off, as 9.30pm saw my middle rod bobbin hit the deck. Quickly grabbing the rod and winding frantically, I finally caught up with the fish, which just kept swimming at me all the way into the margin, where my mate Badger unceremoniously scooped up a clean looking 26lb common.
Unfortunately 15mins later I lost what felt like a good’un whilst doing the pics of the common. The left hand rod had started ripping and a few minutes into playing it, it did the dreaded death roll at range a couple of times in a row, with it feeling like it pinged off every fin on it’s body and then just fell off! Can’t win them all.
Rather than recast in the dark, I opted for the “one rod codding” approach, fully expecting it to churn off before first light. Well first light came and the lonesome rod was still in situ and I was starting to question whether the two bites had somehow affected the remaining rod in some way.
I was on the phone to my mate about 9am in the morning explaining my concerns, when the remaining rod’s bobbin hit the deck again! Chucking my phone on the bed, I shouted back to my mate in loud speaker letting him know I was in and started dealing with what felt like a better fish, with it just holding deep and slowly plodding at mega range. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally started seeing the fish in the depths out in front of me, which looked pretty decent and before long, Badger slid the net under the very unique Veiny Mirror which was a repeat for me at 37lb 8oz. In a strange way though I felt like I had a bit of redemption after losing the fish in the night.
Unfortunately the wind didn’t drop all day, and I hung out doing the rods until last light in the hope the wind would mellow. To cut a long story short, they weren’t as good as they could have been and just decided to redo them in the morning when I knew the wind would subside.
Repeating the same process as before, by putting out the marker float and catapulting bait around it from the footpath it really was some simple fishing. Before walking round I raided the van for every bit of bait I had left, seeing as they clearly seemed up for a feed after getting three bites. When I was baiting up, just behind my marker on top of the shelf I could clearly see an absolute unit grazing, so was eager to get back round and get some rods out.
After a quick phone call to my mate whilst tying on some fresh hook baits, the wind finally eased, so hastily said my goodbyes in order to make the most of this window of opportunity. Quickly whacking the rod out to the clip, it landed bang on where the marker had been and got a nice firm drop at the base of the shelf. Putting the rod on the deck I quickly clipped on a captive backlead and started sliding it down the shelf. All of a sudden the rod started pulling down in my hands, with my initial thoughts being that a pike had hit my backlead on the way down. But whatever it was, it kept pulling the rod down into the margin, and then the penny dropped….. I was in already after about 2 minutes. My instant thought was “s**t I still haven’t even unclipped the line” so I quickly took two stepps back and pinged it out the clip, which was lucky as a second later this fish absolutely went into beast mode!
After an absolute mega back and forth battle, doing the mega kite of all kites, catching poor ol’ Paul’s right hand rod, we finally managed to net it a whole three swims down the bank in the blazing spring sunshine. Peering in the net we were all buzzing as it looked massive!
To top it all off it was one I really wanted, a fish called Roach Head, spinning the scales round to healthy 47lb. A proper way to start the spring on the tricky big pit.
Tactics were hinge rigs utilising long Camstiff booms with Tungsten Droppers dotted along, 4 inch high Recoil hook sections, size 11 ring swivels and size 7 hooks. These were fished on leadclips on 3ft 45lb Olive Camo Leadcore leaders, using the new long anti-tangle sleeves with putty moulded around them.