Living in the Midlands possibilities for roach of such magnitude as to make one wonder whether it's really worth having another cast, or whether the bewildered state should somehow be embalmed and taken from the bank, are few.
Revisiting Mark Wintle's excellent roach books, it being autumn now, in "Big Roach 2" was to be found a statement by Pete Shadick pronouncing that 2lb river roach are at least 14" from snout to cleft of tail.
Out came the measures and, by deduction using ratios from photographs, the second of my two lifetime two pounders, a canal fish of 2.3+, measured at least 14"
This was of some comfort as, being the doubting sort, even casting aspersions on my own old records, I do sometimes look back at those fish and ask whether a mistake could have been made.
Well not in this case it seems.
Comfort is drawn.
So, The Boy Wonder "TBW" decides it's a fishing weekend and his favourite location is agreed upon.
The Res has been good to us this year from roach in the frost early-on, through rudd, perch, tench and even a proper crucian but, since the Challenge commenced TBW had not seen a tench to his own rod
The imaginary Golden Maggot would get an airing too
Weapons were chosen for the duel:
TBW - 1 rod - maggot and hemp feeder at 30m
F,F&F - float fished bread at 2 rods out (and a sneaky chopped worm feeder down the inside on the wand)
The level had dropped and colour with it
Standard Custom and Practice ensued...
I catch my biggest fish first cast and TBW casts his rig off and spent the next hour in state of general faffulence
Yes that first throw of the flake and up pops the float to reveal the clutch screaming surge of a 4lbs 5ozs 8drm male tench, but that was that
Total Bloody Womble "TBW" eventually gets into the swing and as per usual proceeds to tease two decent tench of 3.3 and 3.5 with a bigger one lost on his last cast to pluck the total weight prize from my grasp with some excellent counter-attacking. Draw the opposition out and into a sense of security then hit them hard. Perhaps Jurgen Klopp could learn from this
TBW - Total weight 6.8; total species 1; number of fish 2. Points 1
FF&F - Total weight 6.0; total species 2; number of fish 4. points 2
Never in doubt
My staple water the North Oxford Canal is very poor at present. Few fish, much colour and boat traffic high.
A move to the short length of conjoined Grand Union and Oxford Canals, even with its essential bow to stern flotilla from 8am or so, has been far more productive and a new area of attack has offered surprising all round quality.
The wind could have been awkward hence the choice of an east-facing bend which was inevitably capable of offering shelter whichever forecast one favoured.
The local farmers were flat-out flattening-out the fields for winter fare. It seems but yesterday that the dust of the harvest clogged the airways but now there is no sign; the reaping, rolling, ploughing, tilling and drilling all complete in perfect linear patterns.
When everything else is failing revert to what you know. In this instance mashed bread and chopped worm. That approach on two rods produced a marvellous catch of just over ten pounds in two hours this very morning.
It was not the overall catch however but the size of the best fish of each species that made the eyes bulge, like Marty Feldman on speed.
The trend of the sequence caught with this approach when bream are present usually goes: bream/hybrids then a roach, or maybe two, then when that dies (by reverting to the worm rig) it's perch and the odd zander.
This morning followed the protocol to the letter with five bronze bream to 2lbs 2ozs followed by the best roach of the campaign yet at a cracking 1.10.0, albeit a fish of two halves with the anterior of a definite two pounder and a posterior that suggested a pounder, then five perch to 1.13.13 plus a zed-let.
That hard fighting roach would sit proudly in the top F,F&F canal roach list and, without checking, probably at around 6th or 7th.
It's 10am now and, the morn only having been sufficiently light 7am, already it's bums on (heated) seats and foot down heading off for a breakfast but not before a triple take as the last of today's many less than immaculate narrowboats chugged through...two years since we'd spoken I'd estimate...and there he was, a little changed by the passage of that time. Duncan, a good former angler, now operating on the dark surface of the water - with the odd dabble when the mood takes no doubt.
The Bloggers Challenge is at an odd stage.
Many of the summer species are tabled and those that passed many of us by, largely those of flowing water, are not feeding due to a lack of rain.
For my part then it's purely a case of enjoying the fishing with no particular target other than whatever occurs, or at least for now.