The lure of Kennet roach drew me back to the Wasing beats of this beautiful river this week. The Kennet was once famed for its red finned inhabitants and it had a reputation for holding some very big specimens. Well I’m pleased to say that in certain stretches, they are still there. They crop up from time to time, mainly to barbel fishermen. I have targeted these roach on just a few occasions recently, having taken them to 1lb 12oz in the past. I’m certain that with some perseverance the larger specimens will eventually succumb.
So the set-up was fairly straight forward. I balanced my superb light ‘river and stream’ quiver rod (a TF Gear rod that is sadly no longer available) with a Drennan reel loaded with 5lb line. A running ledger link and a 3 foot mono hooklink coupled with a 16 Pallatrax ‘The Hook’ completed the set-up. The bait was a small hair rigged Hinders Elips pellet, attached by incorporating a small bait band tied to the hair. This is a nice simple rig, where little can go wrong. I do like to use a 3 inch length of silicone tubing on the hooklink which pulls onto the swivel. This just pushes the hooklink away from the feeder, which is then attached to the running ledger link. It just helps to prevent tangles.
I targeted an area that I know has produced some decent roach in the past and still regularly throws up some decent specimens over a pound. There is a lovely long glide here and a fallen tree at the end of the run. On the opposite bank are more bushes and trees in the water, which create a lovely crease. It screams roach, especially as it has an excellent average depth.
After setting up base camp (where’s Sherpa Tenzing when you need him?) I set up the feeder rods, baited my chosen swim with a little hemp to get the fish interested. The water was a little higher than of late after recent heavy rains and the river was carrying a little more colour too. Perfect roach conditions. First cast out with the hemp and caster feeder, produced instant results. The tip yanked round from a cracking bite and the strike met with that jagged resistence of what felt like a good roach. Then, sadly it was off. Things went a little quiet from there. It was a lovely warm evening. As dusk approached the tip pulled round again and this time the culprit found the folds of the landing net. A fine Kennet roach of about a pound. It was fin perfect and in immaculate condition. Hopefully this was to be the start of some decent action.
Well sadly by 10pm, not an awful lot had happened. Kevin had taken a couple of nice barbel further upstream, the biggest going 8lb 10oz and Geoff had caught a small fish of about 4-5lbs. Then at last another bite came my way. The dogged, zig-zag fight indicated a roach and so it was. Another fish of about a pound. Sadly tiredness was beginning to get the better of me (that’s old age for you) so I decided to have one more cast whilst packing away all of the usual paraphernalia that us anglers take but never seem to use (please tell me it’s not just me!). Once all that was done, it was time to reel in. Moments before doing so the rod top dragged round violently and a hard fighting fish ripped line from the reel. The clutch screamed as the fish headed for the fallen tree. Steady pressure won the day (a good balanced set-up, even using lightish lines, can subdue big fish) and the fish was drawn over the cord of the landing net. Well it was obvious by now that this was a roach of the bearded variety. Yes, a barbel. Certainly not a monster, but about 6lbs.
I popped over to see Geoff and as I stood there his rod whacked round and a feisty barbel of around 4-5lbs was later unhooked and slipped back to fight another day. I headed back to camp and got the kettle going. Kevin surrendered to the Barbel Gods but Geoff was made of tougher stuff and after his cuppa, carried on fishing for a couple of hours. Sadly nothing more came his way and even he eventually succumbed to tiredness.
Not a bad session all in all