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Bigger and better

 

Three weeks ago, we changed plans at the last minute due to some foul weather and headed a couple of miles up the canal to a more sheltered stretch. We weren’t all that optimistic about the move either. The area we had intended to fish had been totally unproductive on bread, so I was not as upset about it as Pete who had been catching some nice perch there on maggots.

That disappointment was short lived however, as his float slid away and he hooked into a reasonable hybrid which turned out to be the largest roach he had caught for a great many years. It was a hell of a fish, and one that I had been dreaming of. Ironically we were both fishing maggots on this occasion. We had one apiece but while mine would never have troubled more than the first couple of ounces on the scales, his registered 30.5 of the finest imperial type. One pound fourteen and a half ounces is a big roach just about anywhere, but from a canal it is a prize indeed.

 

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Success on the angling front has been limited of late. An endless stream of petty interruptions has played havoc with my free time, but complain as I might they refuse to disappear or, if truth be told, offer the best excuse for a combination of poor angling, stubborn adherence to failing ideas and renewed film making. A second Artificial Flight film is underway and you would not believe how time consuming it is or how much utterly tedious work it takes before the excitement of actually assembling it can begin.

Anyway excuses aside Pete and I have been chasing roach on the canals again, although in all fairness Pete has probably been fishing for perch most of the time. We have tried many places and all have produced. Pete has had a fair few perch to a pound and three quarters on maggots, but my results on bread have been steady but unspectacular consisting mostly of sub one and a half pound hybrids.

 

Back in the day it would have ended in a glass case with a couple of complimentary ounces added to the brass plaque, but obviously it was carefully weighed, photographed and slipped back.

I can never get over the transience of these successes. We strive for years to catch these fish. They consume our every waking moment and their appearance on the bank is a matter of the utmost excitement and satisfaction. Their appearance is spell-binding but within a minute or two they glide away, out of sight and that pinnacle suddenly turns out to have a very fine point indeed. Five minutes later the vision is already fading even if the excitement lasts a bit longer. By tea time all that is left is to plan the next trip in search of an even bigger one. Success is always transitory, a mere blink of the eye. Thank God for cameras.

 

 

Of course we knew where we would be the following week. Roach are, after all, shoal fish and there ought to be at least a couple more left from that year class. Next time I would catch the big one and on bread too, but it was not to be, the canal was frozen and I ended up wasting a couple of gallons of diesel only to be frustrated.

The big Guy up there knows how to knock back a bout of over-eager, over- confident, over-excitement doesn’t he? Oh yes, he froze the canal over the following week as well. By the time this week came round it was getting hard to find any enthusiasm to go out in a howling, window-rattling, gale, in search of a fish that was getting harder to remember already.

In truth I only went because Pete was going too. When times are tough it can take two of you to egg each other on. I’m glad we went though. Huddled behind a brolly that kept wrapping its arms around me in the icy blast I sat hunched over, hands in pockets and stared morosely at the tip. It was bouncing about and bending to the wind and giving me a head ache. I had been there half an hour and I was so fed up. More fed up than I ever thought I would be whilst fishing.

Then it happened, the tip pulled round in the wind but kept going and I was fighting a stubborn but vigorous fish and that always suggests roach to me. Bream plod, hybrids roar away like tench but roach are like an electric current running through the rod. I was right and a silver miracle slid into the net. One pound eight and a few drams of utter bliss. A minute or so feasting my eyes on those glorious red fins, silver-blue flanks and then all too soon, my largest ever canal roach flicked its tail and melted away too. Thank God once more for cameras.

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