I was busy on Wednesday and couldn’t make the White Acres mid week match, by Sunday I was chomping at [&hellip
Often called the ‘redfin’ the roach is one of the most abundant and popular species in the British Isles with its slim silver body, greenish blue back and distinctive red fins a familiar sight to most fishermen. It thrives in a wide range of aquatic environments, from the murkiest looking urban canals and ponds to huge clear reservoirs and grand fast flowing rivers, making it readily available to fishermen all over the country.
It breeds in the spring time producing its yellowish sticky eggs in shallow weedy water where the fry find shelter in their first few weeks of life. The roach sheds up to 20,000 eggs per pound of body weight which partly explains why they are so numerous and widespread in UK waters. It is heavily predated by pike, perch and other predators and in clear waters the percentage of fry that survive to adulthood can be low however if you are looking for big roach large clear waters, like reservoirs and gravel pits, with a good head of pike and perch are good places to try with the lower survival rate leading to remaining roach growing to specimen sizes. In smaller coloured waters with no predators the population can become stunted with too many roach competing for too little food.
The roach is closely related to rudd and bream and as these species spawn at the same time and often in the same places their eggs can be cross-fertilized leading to hybridisation with roach-rudd and roach-bream hybrids often growing much bigger than true roach. In waters where two or all three of these species co-habiting identification of true roach can be a problem.
The roach’s slightly protruding top lip tells us that it is predominantly a bottom feeder however it often feeds up in the water and can sometimes be found feeding on the surface. In the wild it feeds mainly on insects and insect larvae algae and other plant matter but on heavily fished waters anglers baits provide a large portion of their diet with maggots, casters, hemp, tares being particular favourites on natural fisheries. On commercial fisheries carp baits like pellets, sweetcorn and boilies are eaten with gusto with some surprisingly large specimens having been caught by mistake by carp anglers.
Although abundant roach are not the easiest species to catch and it is often said that the true measure of a quality angler is the ability to catch roach consistently. Roach are renowned as a shy biting species which makes float fishing many peoples favourite method of catching them. Pole and waggler are the best approaches on still waters and canals while trotting the stream with a stick float takes some beating on running water. For specimen roach feeder fishing at range with a bolt rig set up and maggots or casters is the most productive method on large reservoirs and gravel pits. On rivers trotting bread flake under a loafer type float is a method that tempts big roach regularly.
Whatever method you choose to target roach you must fish with as light a line and hook as you can to catch these tackle shy fish with any consistency.