I caught some lovely small roach from a local canal recently as I’d promised to “bang out” half a dozen live baits for a pike session later that afternoon with a mate.
There hadn’t been a hard frost the night before, but the weather was typical winter Manchester, cold hard and grey. Conditions that a lot of anglers struggle with (noted by their absence from the bank)
So on arrival I set up 4 sections of pole, a 2g pencil shaped float, a size 20 hook – fed an almond sized lump of sloppy liquidised bread and sat back and waited for the fish to wake up for breakfast.
It took longer than I thought as this method of fishing can often produce instant bites – and after 15 bite free minutes I was started to have a bit of a panic that my bravado of “oh don’t worry I’ll bang out a few live baits in double quick time” was going to result in me having egg on my face.
Much to my relief, my float gave a micro dip — so I lifted and brought in a lovely little roach of about half an ounce.
The session then continued as expected with a bite every put in, using my smallest size of bread punch, and within another 15 minutes the larger 3 and 4oz roach had started pushing the micro roach out of the swim. If i had continued fishing for the rest of the morning I would have added a bit of crushed hemp to the liquidised bread and usually within the first half hour or so the roach of 8 to 12oz would again move in and bully out the smaller fish. But this was not to be, I only needed a dozen fish to share between the three of us pike fishing later that day.
The roach were in superb condition – with a lovely iridescent purple/blue sheen to their flanks, a bright red eye and not a scale out of place. Check them out in the pictures below. Small – perfectly formed – absolute beauties.
So – I took tremendous enjoyment from catching these small roach, but it got me thinking that only through having years of experience did I catch them. Casting my mind back to when I was a youngster I would have been on a certain blank session on a cold January morning like today. The reason why I caught over a dozen fish in less than an hour was quite simple. I used a float and shotting pattern that is incredibly sensitive and a hook length and hook that were a match for a roaches eagle eyes in the gin clear water.
I see so many anglers both young and old with an inch of thick float showing, hook lengths like tow rope and a hook big enough to be fishing paste on a commercial in summer. I with tackle shops would stop selling this stuff – or at least advise the anglers buying these floats on how to set them up properly.
So back to the fishing.. I then drove the 15 minutes further up the canal to our usual haunt to meet up with Phil and his new mate Dean. A new mate ??? is this some sort of piscatorial affair – should I carry on and ignore this turn of events – or demand a fishing divorce ? maybe a period of reflection and mate/marriage guidance is necessary – we obviously need some sort of counselling – probably best done in a pub over half a dozen pints lol
Anyway back to the pike fishing. I know a lot of people think that live baiting is a cruel form of our sport, but its something that’s never really worried me. I stopped using treble hooks many years ago, and when I live bait I used a single circle hook through the top lip of the bait. If I catch I catch…. if not the live bait is released and swims off to fight another day.
I also think that live bait out catches any other pike fishing method – and I’m out to catch fish.
I met up with Phil and Dean further up the canal and set up my my usual rig – see pic below. I’ve started using these Size 2 Sakuma Circle Hooks – and again I caught a nice fish with the hook lodged perfectly in the top of the fishes mouth.
As you can see – it didn’t take too long for the canal pike to oblige – and itch had been scratched – and after spending the rest of the morning chatting it was soon time to go home to the family for the rest of the day.
My next few trips out are going to be in search of cod – as its that time of year. There are quite a few marks to try on the West Lancashire Coast – and I’m also going to book myself onto a charter boat out of Fleetwood… looking forwards to sharing a few posts with you soon