Matthew Fernandez 2lb 12oz Roach

My light rod hooped over under the strain of what was clearly a decent fish, but the drama didn’t end there..

Clear, low and weedy summer rivers are difficult enough to fish at times, but when you add swimmers, boaters and some dogs into the mix, it can get all a bit chaotic. You’d think that no fish in its right mind would hang around with all this commotion, but on a recent trip to a local river Matthew Fernandez Angling learned just how incredibly tolerant they can be.

Matt explained “The stretch is a public water close to my home in Southampton and contains some huge roach, and these were my target. I’d popped down at the start of the season and found a group of good fish, some looking close to 3lb, and had just got them feeding when a load of kids jumped out of a tree and into the river. I was sure they must have killed the swim, so I packed up and went on my way. Returning a few days later though, I realised that this may have been a mistake.

The stretch gets very weedy, and the roach live in small clear areas, so in preparation for my session I pre-baited a few of these pockets with hemp and maggots. Arriving the next day, I noticed a group of good roach feeding well over one of the spots… but then it all started kicking off! Dogs started jumping in, and swimmers were ploughing right through the swim, so I decided to pack up again. But then I noticed something beneath the surface… big roach! Incredibly, they were still in situ after all that commotion. Incredible really, considering the clarity of the water and all the racket being made.

I ran the float back over the spot and straight away it darted under. My light rod hooped over under the strain of what was clearly a decent fish, but the drama didn’t end there. A group of kids were cruising past in a dinghy, so I shouted for them to watch out, as I carried on playing the fish. I thought I was over the worst of it, but then a big pike grabbed it! I really thought I’d had it, but by some miracle the pike let go.

Then, just as the fish came within reach I looked down and saw that my net was drifting downstream! I wasn’t going to give up after all that, so I jumped in, paddled down the margin, grabbed the net and finally slipped it under a seriously big roach.

It weighed 2lb 12oz and is a new PB for me. I’m obviously delighted, but I also learned a lot from the catch, namely not to be too put off by disturbances on rivers where the fish are used to seeing them. It doesn’t impact the fish as much as we might think. Getting them feeding confidently before casting out is something I like to do with big roach and is possibly why they were happy to linger on the spot after such commotion. I know one thing for sure – I won’t be throwing in the towel next time a swimmer crashes through the peg!”