A single maggot on a size 20 hook was the key to the capture of the biggest roach of 2017 weighing 3lb 5oz 8dr. It was tempted from a chalk stream in the south by passionate roach angler Matt Jackson. Years of targeting specimen redfins on the waterway have taught the Wiltshire specialist that the window of opportunity for catching these rare fish is small, so he got to the river over an hour before sunrise.
It paid off in style, as his only bite of his short session saw him bank his fifth river roach over the magical 3lb barrier. “I knew the conditions weren’t going to be perfect, so the only chance of a big fish was before the sun came up. Too many anglers leave it too late,” Matt said.
“I like to get to the river really early and then listen and watch out for big fish rolling on the surface. “If I’d got to the river at first light I would have missed my chance and, to honest, I thought I had because the sun was just starting to come up just before I got the bite. Matt comes from a carp fishing background and knows the importance of accuracy when baiting up.
He uses a bait dropper to deposit a tight bed of CC Moore hempseed and maggots, then casts a simple maggot feeder rig over the top. “Big roach may only feed in very short spells so, as soon as it’s on the feed, you need to be in with a chance of the fish picking up your hookbait quickly,” Matt continued.
“Loosefeeding by hand or with a catapult won’t guarantee that your feed is all in one spot because river currents can be deceiving and all baits sink at different rates. “A bait dropper is the most effective way and is the secret to laying a trap for huge roach.”
Two of Matt’s five roach over 3lb came a year after he banked one of the biggest roach braces of all time, 3lb 7oz and 3lb 2oz fish which he landed in the winter of 2015. The winning rig which fooled this latest stunner was made from 4lb Guru mainline, a 3lb hooklink and size 20 hook that held a single red maggot.
Another angler who made the most of a short session was Yorkshire’s Mike Townsend. He was fishing a small, local river with the float and a breadflake when a 2lb fish took the bait close to the far-bank reeds during a quick 30-minute session after work.