Often overlooked in favour of carp, roach in commercial fisheries can provide a great day’s sport. Commercials can hold quality roach that have grown to a decent size on high-protein carp baits. And, unlike skimmers, roach are reliable feeders.
England and Daiwa ace Cameron Hughes knows the value of these fish on winter commercials. They’ve provided him with double-figure match weights on days when going for carp or skimmers would have drawn a blank, as he explains...
Picking your lines
“I’d have a main pole line at 13m or beyond, where the fish will settle and feed confidently, and I’d expect to catch skimmers here too if the lake holds them.
“However, you always need a second line to rest the main one. Mine would be at around 6m, depending on the depth. Around 5ft of water is perfect, and I’d expect this spot to come good in the final few hours of a session when the roach move closer in.”
Laying the rig in
“Many anglers lay the rig in one way all day. That’s okay, but mixing it up will pick off bigger roach. On one drop I may lay the rig in and then, on the next, slowly lower it directly down to the bottom. Another good trick is to flick the rig out past the pole tip on a tight line, holding the pole halfway down the section.
“Then as the rig settles, push the rest of the section out. This maintains a tight line and can work for the bigger roach.”
“I reckon that even in coloured water the roach won’t be keen on moving into this shallower water early on. I’d certainly have a look on my short line after an hour, and if I was getting bites, I’d stay on it until it faded.
“If nothing happened, however, I wouldn’t think about coming back here until around 90 minutes of the session remained. Hopefully by then, it should be solid!”
Light and heavy floats
“Varying your presentation throughout the day can have a big effect on your catch. Just because you’re getting bites on one rig doesn’t mean that a change to a lighter set-up won’t improve things. For the long line I’d set up two rigs taking Carpa Gloucester floats of 1g and 0.75g.
“The bigger float is my starting rig, and this is shotted with a bulk and three No9 dropper shot, whereas the lighter rig takes just No9 shot strung out in a tapered fashion to give the bait a slower fall in the final few feet of the swim. This is the one I’ll change to if I am missing bites on the heavy rig, as this change in presentation can make a world of difference.”
Feeding for different fish
“The two lines are fed differently, as I’m aiming to catch different fish from them, so the long pole swim is fed with four balls of groundbait to create an area for the fish to settle over, while the 6m line only sees loosefeed. I’d expect any skimmers or bream to feed further out, hence the groundbait, while at 6m roach will be the main fish.
“My mix is 50/50 Sensas Super Canal Black and Gros Gardons Noire mixed on the damp side to get down quickly without giving off any particles. Into this I add a few red maggots and around a quarter-pint of casters – enough to hold roach in the peg while keeping any skimmers happy too.
“Around 15 to 20 casters are fed short every minute. If there are lots of fish about I’ll feed less often, but with more casters to keep the fish on the deck.”