Writen and Edited by John Searl
Published by “The Art
of Angling” 2009
Star rating ****
After the plethora of books about carp and barbel, it is
refreshing to read something on the greatly underrated roach, a favourite of
many anglers who grew up catching silver fish.
With a foreword by Peter Wheat and a John Bailey
introduction, the book offers an array of photographs of exquisite fish,
further enhanced by John Searl’s artwork.
The book covers fishing for roach in southern chalk streams,
with contributions by some of the great redfin anglers, including Dave Howes,
Ron Smith and John Searl who all fish the Hampshire Avon; Vic Beyer on the
Kennet; Pat McManus on the Itchen; Mark Wintle on the Frome and Dave Steuart on
the Test. Yes, there are roach there too.
These authors have all caught more 2b and 3lb fish than
anglers such as myself have caught pounders. All have developed a similar
approach that will find surprising. Not that they fish with a float using
breadflake, or that they use bread mash with crumb as loose-feed to get the
right constituency – but that they fish with floats taking several swan shot.
Having been brought up on the canals of Birmingham using 1lb line and micro floats, I
wouldn’t have dreamt of using such heavy tackle, but the approach and
explanations make it seem entirely logical. As the late Billy Lane used to say, it isn’t the
floats weight that matters but the balance and presentation.
However, one also appreciates that catching big roach isn’t
easy, and that the contributors have learnt their watercraft over several years
on some of the UK’s
best roach waters. Sadly, one consistent gripe running throughout the book is
that the quality of fishing, even on these rivers has declined dramatically
over the past 20 years, with reasons ranging from boat traffic to crayfish,
from cormorants to otters and carp.
It is distressing to read of such an iconic fish, the
favourite of many anglers (myself included) struggling to survive. With
abstraction issues also looming, the future looks gloomy.
So now is the time to purchase this book, absorb all the
sound advice within and head to one of the southern chalkstreams. This book
will inspire you to do so, and maybe I’ll see you there- right after I’ve
stocked up with heavier floats and swan shot!