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Monday, 21 February 2011

Avon Roach - do they exist?

On Saturday I was invited to fish a match. I'm not really a match fisherman having never really understood the competitive aspect of what for me is just a hobby, albeit one that takes up nearly all of my waking hours!

However this was billed as something different as it is an annual event , organised by the Roach Club, where a group of like minded individuals go in search of a mythical Hampshire Avon roach. This year the venue was the London Anglers Association water at Britford - one of the few places left on the Avon where roach are still abundant.

Twenty or so anglers turned up in the car park and after chatting to the ever helpfull and enthusiastic river keeper Stewart we all set off to our chosen pegs. The river looked to be in fine nick carrying a bit of extra water and what looked like just the right amount of colour. My travel companion and I chose a swim with known roach form in one of the carriers trotting along a mess of alders and willow. We both started trotting the far bank with bread or maggots and the float soon started to go under with monotonous regularity, not unfortunately due to pristine redfins but to the hoards of minnows that can at times make fishing almost impossible. Some of these were veritable monsters taking bread on a ten hook!

Eventually the float slid away and the strike met with more solid resistance and after a brief struggle a "silver" found its way to the net. Not the hoped for roach but a nice dace of about 8oz. The same pattern continued for much of the day and even in various different swims. We just could not tempt a roach. I ended with a nice bag of dace, chub and a couple of small grayling.

We met up with the others and amazingly nobody had caught a roach! Stewart put it down to the over night rain, but I think we were grasping at straws! Maybe if we'd continued on beyond the 5o'clock finish time some roach might have come our way as I know from experience that the river can turn on at dusk and a seemingly empty swim suddenly becomes alive with fish.

So back to the pub to discuss the days events and the ongoing Avon Roach Project, which is hoping to improve the numbers of roach currently in the Avon. There's some very interesting footage of roach spawning on the artificial boards placed by Trevor and Budgie if you go to the website here:

Some of the stories that those that remember the heyday of the Avon told were quite incredible - bags of twos with threes not being uncommon. Where have they all gone? Is it predation? Columnaris? Poor spawning caused by over dredging? Rivers too clean? Who knows, but hopefully the Roach Project will go some way to reinstate this iconic fish to the Avon.



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