With me not fishing right now, I thought I’d revive some old pictures and stories about my start as a Roach and Chub specimen hunter. Why those species, well they were available to me at the time and roach have always been “MY FISH”. The local river Eye in Leicestershire was a bike ride away, and roach and chub grew to a good size there, even by National standard.
The fish directly below weighed 2lb 6oz for the River Eye 1975.
The rivers Welland, Eye both produced big roach in those days.
I was taking an apprenticeship in a local Butchers shop in Melton Mowbray at the time 1967, and teamed up with a chap Brian a little older than me.( But with much more fishing experience.) Brian was working in Leicester and had brought a car, not a normal car, but a Derek Trotter 3 wheeled van. This gave us total freedom to roam the local rivers and lakes, until then I’d been content with the shop bike, or my Lambretta motor bike, WHEN IT WAS WORKING?. Imagine cycling 5 miles on a single gear bike, with all the days fishing gear in a front basket, fishing all day, then coming home in the dark? I had legs like a race horse, and the local coppers, loved to stop me when the batteries on the lights ran out of power, more often than not?
We had several rivers at our disposal, so winter would be chub and roach fishing. Summer we would try for tench and still-water bream at the local gravel pits in Asfordby, near Melton. The pits still exist today, but are managed as a carp lake? The Eye was most local, but the Eye, Welland, and produced big Dace and Roach. The chub fishing was improving too at that time, and 5lb chub were possible, but very rare. I managed two in the 70s quite a feat then, I can assure you. Most of my fishing was after dark, or on a Sunday (I’d work on a Saturday in the shop) That would mean in winter I’d be leaving home in the dark 6pm cycling to the river and returning that evening late midnight, with work next day. Yes, it was gruelling but in your teens you’re bulletproof. It seemed even harder in summer when I had to be at work for 7am getting up at 2am going tench fishing, then working all day, I’d be really tired at work, but my boss was a match angler, so that helped a bit.
Almost all the big roach we caught back then were taken as the light values were falling, receding flood water, or in the dark. It showed me that the best times to fish for big roach, and that was how I proceeded when I moved to Norfolk and took advantage of its roach fishing.
We had the odd trip North ( River Wharfe ) for barbel when we have more than a few days free, like holidays. But mostly we stayed local, so good was the fishing in that area. But times move on, and when I was in my early twenties I got a job working in insurance, and later banking forcing me to Norfolk and later Suffolk. There as mentioned earlier, I took all I’d learned to fish the amazing river Wensum in its heyday. Little did I know that river and a few others in the area would make my dreams of big roach come true. Read about it in Part 2.