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An absolutely brilliant write up


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Frank, i'll move this thread into the coarse section. Threads in Non Carp Banter get deleted automatically after a set time. Don't want to lose this one :)

Than you I am honoured.

I wish I found it easier to write, I have so much I could say, but no doubt there are plenty of others in the same boat.

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Frank, i'll move this thread into the coarse section. Threads in Non Carp Banter get deleted automatically after a set time. Don't want to lose this one :)

Than you I am honoured.

I wish I found it easier to write, I have so much I could say, but no doubt there are plenty of others in the same boat.


lovely read, respect for the sheer dedication.


I know of some who find it easier to use speech recognition software, you can ramble away then edit afterwards.

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Frank, i'll move this thread into the coarse section. Threads in Non Carp Banter get deleted automatically after a set time. Don't want to lose this one :)

Than you I am honoured.

I wish I found it easier to write, I have so much I could say, but no doubt there are plenty of others in the same boat.


Don't think there are too many, if any, with catches like that to write about.

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  • 2 months later...

Robbed from elsewhere...(Hope this is ok Frank)


Frank's Roach.


Hi all, I have written this tale of my obsession with big roach in the distant past, after being asked to do so by others on the photographic section.

I have used my diaries to make sure memories are not tinted.

In the dim and distant past, carp obsessed me in the summer [nothing changes] and pike in the winter months.

Occasionally I fished for other species, especially if time was short or I was to be fishing with my friend Martin, he got bored of carp.

I travelled all over the UK fishing for carp, but when it came to other fish I stayed closer to home.

Anyway as it was the close season Martin suggested that we take a walk along our local river, the Derbyshire Derwent to look for the Barbel he intended to fish for.

The Derwent has always held good fish of most species but is often over looked by the specimen angler.

There is good reason for this, the lower reaches had been poisoned on a regular basis, by a chemical factory [this worked in my favour, but that is another story].

The upper reaches were game fish central

Therefore, this left the middle reaches and these were difficult to get to, or to fish comfortably but they contained some monster fish for them days.

The section I concentrated on was within 3 miles of Martins house, so was within easy walking distance with ones tackle; it was also completely overlooked by the vast majority of other anglers.

Now on the day in question, to the best of my knowledge, the river held the following: a handful of big Barbel- up to 9lb! Some big Chub up to 5lb! In addition, a few Dace, Grayling, Trout, Gudgen and small Roach with the occasional bigger one of up to 2lbs.

Martin and I set of on a Saturday morning in the middle of May and we slowly walked the banks looking for Barbel, we stopped in all the likely looking places for a good scan of the water.

One such stop was on top of a high embankment, some 15ft above the river, here on a bend it was quiet streamy.

We spied three decent Barbel amongst the streamer weed and we both lay there for about half hour watching them, whilst day dreaming about catching them.

We were just about to leave when I looked straight down, “DON’T BLOODY MOVE” I whispered, “ why” was Martins reply, “look straight down, there f--ing huge”.

What I had spied was a big shoal of big roach, jostling for prime spawning position, most of them were in the pound and a half bracket, about ten were two’s but right at the head were the huge monsters.

These fish numbering about five in total were so big I could not put a weight on them as I had seen nothing like it.

We sat there for hours watching and during that day I learned more about roach spawning then I or anyone else needs to know.

We went home and were both dazed, neither of us being able to process what we had seen.

Martin told his father, himself a lifetime angler and all-round countryman, “ I told you there were big roach down there” “ their not large, their f--ing huge record breakers” “ don’t talk daft, they’ll be 2s, just the way your looking at them” we’ll see when I catch them”, Martin stated

So on the first day of the season we were there, trotting maggots in the vain hope of catching one of the giant Roach.

I fully realised I would never get one like this, but it was good fun anyway and we ended up with a good mixed bag of fish and a couple of nice trout for the pan.

The following week saw Martin fishing the Trent and myself of on a gravel pit looking fore carp.

The rest of the summer I read everything I could to try to find a way of catching those Roach, one thing that came up everywhere was that winter was the time.

To me winter started October 16th, my birthday and the day I traditionally started ferreting and pike fishing, but not this year.

Armed with two rods and reels I headed for the meadows, the rods were a B&W trotter and a B&W Avon , the reels were 300s.

I picked a quiet spot in the river, just downstream of where we had seen the fish, amongst some willows.

I set up and fished two separate methods, I quiver tipped with maggot and maggot feeder on one and trotted brandlings on the other feeding ground bait and chopped worm.

This process was carried out in different pegs every weekend up to the close season, I only saw the giants one day under the cat ice in January.

I did catch plenty of fish, fish to be proud of but no giants.

The same thing was repeated the following year with a difference, this time I fished with different baits, I pre-baited and more importantly, I spent more time on the river.

I would leave work Friday, get to the river in the early eve and stay until Monday night.

This might sound ok but staying out on the bank under a brolly, dressed as we did back then, takes its toll on you, even when you’re a young man and turning up a day late for work barely capable of performing your task, is not good.

Repeating warning were issued and by the time close season arrived it was touch and go, touch and go with my job, my relationship and my sanity.

Again, I had caught a few fish along the line, but nothing huge especially by today’s standards, although I had a 5lb Chub brace of 2lb Roach and a 2 1/2lb Grayling.

Another close season and summer past and I was yet again thinking about nothing else but those bloody roach, they were getting to me big style and nothing I could think about, nothing I could read g, gave me a better way to catch them.

I had come to the conclusion that I simply had to wade through all the other fish before I would catch one on the giants.

I started on October the 16th as per usual, but this winter was going to be far from usual in more ways then one.

My Tackle had changed somewhat, I still had the B&W trotter but it was matched with a Stanton centrepin, the other rod was a Terry Eustace custom, spliced quiver, still with a 300.

My bait had also changed and I was almost entire concentrating on bread, flake on the hook and feeding stale bread pulp.

By the middle of November things started to seriously change, I was now living on the bank!

By living I mean exactly that, my home was now a force ten tent and my partners were two Ferrets and a Lurcher, the other partner had finely seen sense and left.

I had also left my job behind needing to concentrate on the roach.

During the period of late November to middle of December, I had some good catches, mainly as the river fined away after heavy rain and always on good old mother’s pride.

At other time, I had the usual mix of other fish but it was always after heavy rain I got the better roach.

Mid December and the weather turned for the worse, I awoke one morning to find a light covering of snow.

This snow was the start of one of the coldest winters England has had in living memory and certainly the coldest in Derby in the last 60 years.

However, I had made my mind up I was going to stay until the job was done.

I lived of Rabbits, Moorhens, Ducks and Pigeon etc that either I caught or shot as fortunately I had the shooting on both sides of the river in the area and these were supplemented with Potatoes I had cadged from the farmer.

I got cold, very cold, I regularly heated rocks in a fire and dropped them in a bin in the middle of the tent, to keep it warm, and I was fortunate to own an Optimus Stove that handled any weather and used inexpensive paraffin.

Martin and his farther came down to see how I was getting on and joined me fishing or ferreting and it was sometime towards Christmas that Howard stated “You should come back home with us, you’ve got the add dabs” I asked” the what-ere” “the add dabs, you’re going barmy mate, much longer out here on your own and you will need to visit Aston [Aston Hall, was a house for the bewildered].

I told them both they were the ones that were suffering with some form of madness and that: “I‘m not mad, its everyone else”.

Christmas came and went, I was still trying even though big parts of the river were frozen, some three miles upstream of me the river at the “tin sheets” was completely frozen over, around a series of slow oxbows, and there was now in mid January 6-7 inches of frozen snow.

I had caught some amazing grayling but even they had stopped biting, so a hunting expedition was organized with Martin.

Howard was going to keep an Eye on my gear, whilst Martin and I were going to go some 7miles away to drum hill and catch some rabbits.

We walked there through blizzards and found it difficult to find the burrows in all the drifted snow.

The result was the ferret refused to work, it was to cold and Martin got frostbite, not just cold or frosted, proper lost part of ear frostbite.

On heading back, on the bus this time I was again informed I was mad, but I just wanted to get back.

At the end of the month they were both back on the bank with me when I caught a brace of two’s and martin photographed them with an old camera he had, after taking the photo he left the camera and informed me I could hold onto it to photo a giant.

The first week of February there was a sudden change in the weather and a wing got up, a southerly wind that was warm and carrying heavy rain showers.

The river came up fast as the snow melted and within 3 days, it was in full spate powering down and impossible to fish.

I was at cracking point and nearly called it a day, Howard came down with fish and chips and this seamed to cheer me up a bit.

I knew once the river started to fine I would catch again and this proved correct but again it was two’s.

A brace of Derwent roach, cerca 1979

A week later, the frost was back with a vengeance and the water went as clear as tap water, so I went looking.

I found what looked like three of the giants hanging at the back of some sunken willows, the river was still high and normally at this height, it would have been like chocolate.

This gave me an idea, I was up and Alder in no time dropping bread flake in the water, guess what? They-the giants ate every piece, so why oh why wouldn’t they take my bait.

Next I was dropping bits of free lined bread on their noses, the result they vanished not to be seen again for a while.

I was fishing fine line anyway and dare not go lighter, so something else had to be sorted.

I sat on a pipe crossing the river dropping bits of flake in and watching it behave, and then I tried with it attached to the line.

The two behaved completely differently.

I tried it free lined, I tried it on float, lead, swim feeder and finally link leger, finally I had it!

The link was made of 12” of rotten line and one swan shot, the hook length was 36” long, hook was a size 10 crystal bend spade end and coupled with a piece of bread the size of a fifty pence, when dropped from the bridge the flake went down the same as a loose bit the same size.

I fished both rods this way over the next two days catching well again until the river was low, cold and clear.

My next chance was to come the end of February when again there was a thor and the river was up high again and I went looking.

Two days later the frost was back and so were the Giants and I was ready, three bits of flake were flicked out followed by one on the hook, it was instant, the rod was bent in an instant and I was shaking like a leaf.

Probably a minute late but it seamed like an age a Big roach slid over the net, within 30 seconds it was being weighed on a pair of Avon’s- 3lb 15oz, I could quite easily have wept with joy.

The fish was put safe and with no time to waste out went the gear, darkness came and went and nothing else happened, so mid morning I released the fish and went for breakfast.

Whilst I was preparing my food I kept dropping things on the deck, stumbling round like a demented fool, for now I was suffering with the “add dabs” for what should have given me some sort of closure, had not, it had made me even more determined.

I had my food and went for a short walk to clear my head, it did not work, and so I headed back and set my gear up again.

Same process, three bits of flake hit the water closely followed by my baited rig, but this time a completely different response, or lack of to be precise.

I climbed the Alder and saw instantly that they had gone! My capture the day before had spooked them.

I decided to go looking elsewhere and was soon shinning up trees like the preverbal monkey, looking for my giants.

If I found a likely looking spot, but one where I could not climb a tree, I fished it anyway.

Other then a couple of chub the afternoon was fruitless.

I got up in the morning and went looking again and basically repeated the whole process, until mid afternoon, I found them.

They were only fifty yards from where I had caught their sister, this time under a raft of broken braches and dead vegetation attached to the roots of another willow.

I was shaking when I through the bread out and the first few pieces went everywhere but where I intended, finally a piece landed where I wanted, followed by two more and my gear.

I sat for half hour, thinking I had spooked them, I was just leaning forward to reel in and replace the bait when I saw the tip twitch, then it went round ever so slowly, weed? NO, it was a fish! Again, one minute or so later I slid a roach over the net.

I put it straight in the net, set about fishing as “I didn’t have time, to mess about” needing to try for another.

Again nothing happened, so I had a peek, you have guessed it, they had gone.

I weighed the fish, 3lb2oz, although to my eyes it looked bigger than the first.

An hour after I put it back, Martin arrived, I told him the full story and he looked shocked, “ erm, I thought you were never going to get em”.

We sat drinking tea for an hour or so and then he left, as he was leaving he said, if you catch another! Get to the phone and call me, even if it’s at work, he did not realise how soon that call would come.

The day dawned bright and sunny, it was a hard frost again, but it was something I had grown used to and I was glad to be alive.

At about 12-30 pm that day I slid the net under another giant and I put that one straight in the net, at exactly 12-41 I hooked another and as I drew it from under the raft, I could see it was bigger that the other in the net.

I fished on an hour and realised they had gone again, but I had caught four of the five giants in the last few weeks, “once I cracked the secret”.

Please do not think I am trying to portray super intelligent Roach, I am not, they had simply grown old and large living in a river on naturals etc and they new their bit of river, so anything not normal, not acting right was viewed with suspicion.

I tied the neck of the keep net up with string and sank the net as far out as I could; I packed all my gear away, before I set of for the nearest Phone box, some 1 mile away.

I phoned Martin at work, or to be more precise I phoned the factory and told the secretary that Martins sister was in the meadows hospital, he never had one! However, he would know.

When I got back, my gear was still there, always a chance of it going for a walk of its own.

I sat and made myself some tea, hopefully awaiting Martin.

Martin arrived just before dark and just wanted to see the fish, I pulled the net and his words do not require repeating.

The two fish were checked over for secondary hook holds; they were weighed and went 3lb12oz and 4lb 1oz, checked on two sets of avons.

I was thinking of releasing them when I heard a strange noise, a motor of some description, we were miles from the road! Martin said, “It will be Brain” “Brian who” said I, Brian from Seven Trent.

It turned out that Martin had phoned this Brian up from the Seven Trent river authority to come and see the fish, I was not exactly happy, but Brian did come in useful.

Brian took some close up photos of the fish on a towel, for verification, Martin took photos of them being held with his camera.

I explained that whatever happened I did not want the capture publicly announced.

By the morning all, my gear was at Martin and within one week it was all sold, I realised that if I kept it, it would push me over the edge.

For the next year, I concentrated on Game and Pigeon shooting and never picked a rod up again for 14 months.

Martin informed me that his farther found two of the roach dead after spawning time, half-rotten, half eaten, so in winter I went looking for my giants, all I found was other anglers fishing.

It turned out that rumours had got out somehow and that every peg on that stretch had an angler trying his look.

Although the number of anglers had now subsided, there were still far more than when I had fished and despite me looking two or three times, I never found any giant again, perhaps they had moved? Perhaps they had died of old age.

Just for the record, the photos Martin took deteriated over the years and the ones shown are the only ones, I know not what happened to Brian’s.

Brian wrote back a while later and verified they were true Roach, although I already knew that in my heart.

Both sets of scales were checked by Nottingham weights and measures and fount to be spot on.

I went back to look there a couple of years ago, its changed, the fields are gone and are now shops, and trading estates and the shape of the river and its contents have changed.

I saw no Roach but plenty of Perch and Double figure Barbel, so there are big fish still there it is just a different place now.

Would I do it again if I had my time over, you bet I would!

Finally, last winter some 30 years after the capture I caught another 4lb Roach, this time from a lake, so now I have another special for my memory banks.

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