Simon Ashton’s Lake District Roach Fishing At Its Best!

Durham’s Simon Ashton casting his Drennan Super Specialist Duo 1¼lb rods out in pursuit of Roach at Esthwaite in the Lake District.

Simon sent us the following account of his recent trip:-

“Ever wondered what it’s like to fish one of the most stunning still waters in the British isles? One that hold secrets yet to be discovered. One where you can arrive at the crack of dawn and be greeted by not only the sight of hordes of big roach rolling but the chance of witnessing a true fishing master-class by the resident sea eagle. Well you can now, for the glorious Esthwaite trout lake which lies a mile or so from the historical village of Hawkeshead has just opened its doors to the coarse angler. This place has a record for producing some of the best roach sport the country has to offer with most anglers going home with a smile from ear to ear! Not only do the roach grow big but there are huge Rudd, Perch and some massive Bream that grow well into double figures, as well as giant Pike. Put all that in the mix and you can see why a few folk are starting to talk about this lake!

Now after an offer from the fishery manager to come and have a go there could only be one reply! Arriving on Friday night with fellow angler Karl Emmerson, I set about baiting up heavily with a bombardment of Sonubaits goodies, which consisted of Supercrush Green groundbait, F1 2mm pellets, some Hemp n Haili Crush, 3 pints of caster and three pints Sonubaits Hemp n corn. The reason for this was I’d arrived late in the evening and my intention was to draw in and hold the roach until first light; ready for my early morning assault.

I’d fished the lake and done quite well three weeks prior for IYCF magazine so I already knew this place was red hot and totally stuffed with absolute pristine examples of the species! After a cracking night’s sleep I woke to find there was no need to Spod or ball-in like usual as there was already an army of silvers topping as far as the eye could see! On a lake as flat as a sheet of glass It truly was a sight to behold!

Armed with a pair of Drennan Super Specialist Duo 1¼lb rods and 6lb mainline through to a 30g Feederbomb the setup was immediately put to work. First cast into 20 feet of water resulted in a instant response from one of the Esthwaite resident pound plus roach. In fact for the next few hours every single cast made from both of us we was rewarded with a plump roach from 12oz to 1lb 8oz. I only wished I’d remembered my quiver section as the bite more often than not came within 20 seconds of casting resulting in a rather unorthodox approach from me – which eventually hurt my back. We literally couldn’t sit down at all. I couldn’t even set a bobbin correctly without the alarm sounding almost immediately!

At about 11am a shoal of marauding perch moved in and the roach drifted off and let the ‘tough guys’ get their share of action. Soon we couldn’t buy a bite so a plan had to be formulated to win back our morning guests! I figured that because the sun was now well up and the water clarity was also gin clear we came to the conclusion that the roach could have been spooked by the tackle. Changing the hook links to a more scaled down match style approach (3.2lb Double Strength) and reducing the hook size to a Drennan Wide Gape 18 I was a tad worried that we may lose a big fish (should it come along) – but it was worth a try.

After a quick rummage around in the back of the van I found three tins of Sonubaits Hemp n Corn. I lashed the whole lot into a mixing bucket and heaped a bag of caster in there with nearly a full bottle of liquid Scopex. This would release a scent that would draw any swimming creature into the swim, ultimately moving the perch onto pastures new. That was the plan anyway! With the lot spodded in a line about three meters apart I sat back and waited, but another hour passed with a only a small trout and the odd perch; not the hoped for roach.

At midday we caught up on a well earned cup of Karlos’s coffee and late breakfast. Before it was time to commence fishing again a 15mph south westerly wind broke the silence of the flat calm lake and stirred a bit of life back into the swim. Both rods began bleeping simultaneously which ultimately turned out to be the return of the roach, and some crackers too! Before every cast a small amount of red maggots topped off with hemp and liquid Scopex were added to the feeder, and hook baits were either double caster or double or treble red maggot. The best we weighed went 1lb 13oz on the scales and by the end of the day a 50 pound plus bag of scale perfect lake ‘Redfins’ made up my catch. Karl also had some cracking sport with some lovely pound plus samples and a few hefty Perch added to the keep net too.

The well executed plan of scaling down and changing the feed to hemp n caster really worked. Fish after fish graced our nets in what will go down as one of my top five roach sessions to date!

Special thank you to Dave Coleman (fishery manager) for kindly putting us on the fish and giving me permission to bivvy up for the purpose of a story. “

– Simon Ashton

For full details on the excellent Drennan Feederbombs as used by Simon, click here.