“THREE years ago I began fishing a deep reservoir in Bedfordshire for its bream, and I caught loads to well over 8lb. On one session, though, I saw fish topping out in the middle and realised they were roach... big ones at that!
“The first time I tried targeting them, I fished a waggler in a shallow corner of the lake. I caught quality fish to around 1lb but the larger roach seemed to favour the deeper water. I knew that a feeder would be the most effective method as it was 25ft deep, so I modified my paternoster bream rig and switched to a helicopter set-up. It’s a rig favoured by specimen anglers, but I made a few tweaks to mine that I think were key.
“Rather than fish a short fluorocarbon hooklink, I used a metre of 0.19mm line and loop-to-looped a 6ins hooklink of 0.14mm line to this. The thicker line falls slowly through the water, creating an incredibly slow-falling hookbait.
“On the feeder front, a 20g Grip Mesh cage proved the best option. I’ve tried window and rocket feeders, but I think these bomb down to the deck too fast. The cage falls slowly, and this seems to be what the roach like. Most bites have come within 10 minutes of casting out.
“I’ve found that these big redfins give very shy bites, and a braided mainline and 1.5oz quivertip are needed to read what’s going on.
“Natural baits have been the focus of my approach, feeding maggot and caster alongside Dynamite Baits Black Frenzied Hemp groundbait. You don’t want to feed too much, or the bream will come in and it’s game over for the roach!
“Two dead maggots and one live – soaked in fizzy drink to make it buoyant – proved to be the best hookbait. It may all sound a little picky, but I’ve found that the smallest changes have made big differences with these roach.
“During one recent session I managed four roach weighing 11lb 9oz between them. The fish scaled 3lb 4oz, 3lb 1oz, 2lb 12oz and 2lb 9oz. The three-pounders fell on consecutive casts, and seeing that first one come through the depths was a moment to behold!
“If you’ve got your sights set on a big roach this spring, why not give my tactics a try? The finer points make all the difference when it comes to big fish, especially crafty old roach. Working it all out is part of an incredibly rewarding process that could result in the fish of a lifetime.”