The two deep lakes of Fields End Water are teeming with carp, and for much of the year they are targeted with pellet wagglers and feeders by the fair-weather angling brigade.
But when it’s cold the lethargic state of the bigger fish gives other species a look-in, in the shape of some fantastic sport with roach… big roach. Largely ignored and untouched, these fish pack on weight in such waters to the point where many now top the 1lb mark, and it’s a similar story on day-ticket commercial venues up and down the country.
But how do you target a big catch of commercial redfins? Rob Lincoln was happy to show us at the Cambridgeshire fishery.
“The sad thing about it is that nobody targets these fish. Today many anglers would be happy to sit it out for one or two carp, but I came here last month and caught over 30lb of good-sized roach and loved every minute of it.
“Nowadays if somebody catches a roach on a fishery like this they put a boilie or big piece of meat on to try to get away from them!”
Traditional baits were the order of the day for Rob, in the form of maggots and casters. The Pit is a relatively deep commercial with around 10ft of water out on the 13m pole line, and it was a good 20 minutes into the session before his float tip slipped beneath the surface of the pit.
A prompt upward strike saw the welcome appearance of his No5 elastic, and the first roach of the day was on.
The next fish took 10 minutes to arrive and the next just five minutes, as sport slowly began to improve. Pretty soon decent roach were coming more or less every cast.
“This is typical roach fishing. It can take a while, but the peg just gets better and better. I’m potting in a couple of balls of groundbait regularly to force fish down to the bottom where I can catch them more easily, because loosefeeding is drawing them up in the water,” he said.
His new Maver All Around Elite pole was working overtime as it fizzed in and out of the lake, bringing in a succession of fish. But being a match angler at heart, Rob knew there was a way to catch faster – his close-in line. This had been loosefeed from the start by hand, in the hope that the cover of the reeds to his right would encourage the roach to feed with confidence.
“I’ve brought some casters along to see if I can catch some bigger roach for the cameras. They seem to have worked on the hook on the long pole, so hopefully I can catch even faster down the inside. It’s a much easier depth to catch fish in here at just 4ft,” he said.
Ten casters were flicked effortlessly to the spot 5m out and his rig was laid over the top. Scarcely had his bait touched the bottom before it was taken by a fine fish topping the 1lb mark which put up a good account of itself on his light tackle.
With the light starting to fade, the big roach were coming thick and fast but more snow was on its way and the electric session was called to a halt.
“Some anglers will go a lifetime without a catch like this on a natural venue, but this has taken just four hours on my local Fields End Fishery. Those casters have certainly done the business. Why don’t you give them a go on your local commercial? You might just get a surprise or two!” said Rob.
“I think it’s important to concentrate fish on the bottom in the deep water on the long pole, so I’m going to kick off with six balls of groundbait. I’m using Sensas Gros Gardons, which means big roach, and I’ve added a few casters to my mix, too. Always cup your groundbait in when feeding only a few balls, for accuracy,” said Rob.
Big and little floats
The Maver Drift float is Rob’s choice for the 10ft swim, in a 1g size. Over 12ins long, with a very long antenna bristle and stem, it makes the rig extremely stable. The strike is very direct because of the bristle size - short bristles cause resistance when the fat float body hits the surface tension on a strike.
Shotting is simply an olivette with four No11 droppers strung out at 6ins intervals below it.
His hooklength is 0.08mm to a size 20 hook.
At the other end of the spectrum, his margin roach rig features a tiny 4 x 8 Elite Series 8 float with a wire stem. This is shotted with strung-out No12s.