A 30-year campaign to land a mammoth roach finally ended for top specimen angler Gary Knowles when he banked a series of fish to 3lb during a ‘session of a lifetime’.
The Korum-backed rod has spent large parts of his successful career chasing the species and gained his just rewards when he smashed his personal best no less than eight times during a visit to Scotland’s Lochnaw Castle Loch.
Having never set eyes on the 48-acre water, he sought local advice from those in the know and made the decision to bait up a clear shallow spot 40 yards out. Groundbait played a major part in the attack, with 15 balls of a 50/50 mix of Dynamite Baits Silver X Roach and Roach Black laced with a liberal amount of hemp catapulted over his chosen area.
Hookbait choices were less conventional, though, with 10mm Dynamite’s The Source and Sonubaits Oozing Pineapple boilies his preffered offerings.
“Boilies are an extremely underrated bait for big roach and previous guests had been successful on both fishmeal and fruit flavoured versions so I decided to hedge my bets,” explained Gary.
“I’m a big believer in keeping things simple and my rigs consisted of 6lb mainline, with a mini-helicopter rig set about eight inches above an open ended feeder and a size 12 PR39 eyed hook.”
With so much water for the stocks to roam in he had to wait patiently for the roach to move in over his baits, but once they did his first bite of the trip proved to be a memorable one.
“At around 1am the bobbin slammed into the butt ring and line fizzed off the baitrunner. The power of these roach was amazing but I knew my tackle was well balanced so leant into the fish and steered it away from the weed either side of the swim.”
“Once in the net it was clearly bigger than my previous best of 2lb 7oz and the scales registered a weight of 2lb 13oz – I was gobsmacked.”
Fully aware that the specimen redfins moved around in big shoals, he was confident that more action was on the cards. His hunch proved right as a number of other fish to over 2lb 8oz came in quick succession.
But the best was yet to come and in the latter stages of the session Gary hit a career landmark he never expected. He said: “I had a drop back bite and when I lifted into the fish it instantly felt heavy. I had a gut feeling this could be a very special fish and it turned out to be right as a fin-perfect roach of exactly 3lb was soon in the net.
“I’d have been ecstatic just breaking my personal best once on the trip but to do it time and time again and also land a ‘three’ was something that will stick with me forever.”
Mainline: 6lb Krystonite
Hooklink: Preston Innovations Powerline 5lb-14oz
Hooks: Preston Innovations PR39 (Debarbed)
Feeder: Korum 45g combi-feeder
Heli-rig: Korum ready Heli-kits
**Big Roach Tips**
1. Short hooklinks and heavy feeders produce an effective bolt rig for shy-biting roach.
2. Use a soft action rod - roach are prone to headshaking and a soft tip will absorb these lunges and prevent a hook pull.
3. Big roach love hemp. I use whole grains in my loose feed and crush it up in my feeder.
4. Be prepared to fish through the night - the biggest roach are generally nocturnal feeders.
5. Prior to fishing, visit the water at dusk. Big roach will often give their location away, topping on the surface at this time of day.
**For more details on the venue visit www.lochnawcastle.co.uk/fishery**