Old WivesTales, Roach and the 'Anglebox'

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Dave Spence

MD virtual champion 2020. Golden Pie winner 2018.
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Feb 19, 2017
It was a Monday morning in early July 1973, start of a weeks holiday, and I was gutted. The reason for my depression was that my motorbike had decided, the night before, to blow a gasket. This meant that I was without transport for the next few days and, without transport, there was no fishing.

I sat morosely at the kitchen table idly flicking through the pages of the Angling Times, bumper catches all over the country screamed the headlines, pouring salt into the already sore emotional wound I was carrying. My Mother passed me a couple of Bacon sandwiches and a mug of tea,

youve got a face like a smacked backside she stated.

yeah, my bikes packed up I told her,

oh well, these things happen she said itll get sorted

yeah, eventually I replied morosely before turning back to my paper.

A loud bang on the door shook me out of the doldrums, folding my paper away, I answered the knock. The lad standing there looked like an undernourished Chris Evans, ginger hair sticking up at weird angles all over his head, front teeth that would have looked better on a Donkey and black, horn rimmed, glasses held together with yellow and green electrical tape; enter my mate Grenville.

Ayup me duck, are we going fishing he said,

cant Gren I replied sadly my bikes in dock.

No worries youth, Ive gorra car he said proudly, and helping himself to one of my sarnies, he sat down at the table.

Oy I declared thats my breakfast.

Look mush said Gren if Im taking you fishing, the least you can do is share your brekkie.

Fair enough I replied, a ray of hope already brightening my demeanour.

My mother came in, and without having to ask, passed him a mug of tea, hello Grenville she smiled, she always liked Gren, thought he was a cheeky little so and so.

Cheers Mrs S said Gren, giving her a wink.

Whats the story then mate I asked, you should be on afternoons this week, we both worked at the same colliery.

Ive got a load of bait left from yesterday and it would be a shame to waste it he said.

Now I must point out that Gren had never been overly endowed with conscientiousness, he once had a week off due to a broken flask! Spare bait, therefore, was a perfectly justifiable reason to have a day off.

Gren removed his glasses and wiped off, what looked like dried maggot guts on the lens, onto the table cloth, fortunately my Mother didnt see him. You get your gear out while I finish my tea he ordered.
I didnt need telling twice and in less than five minutes we were loading my basket and holdall into Grens new acquisition.
The car was an old Ford Anglia of indeterminate age, sickly lime green in colour with a contrasting cream roof, patches of rust spread liberally over the body work.

what the hell is this mate I asked.

Its an Anglebox he declared proudly, gave a chap 50 for it in the pub last night,

I hope you got 45 change I muttered.

Cheeky pillock said Gren this was a bargain, plus, Ive got it on a weeks approval, if I dont want it by next Saturday he will give me my money back

The car started, on the third time of asking and we lurched out of my street leaving behind a huge cloud of blue/black smoke.

Wheres your tax disc youth? I asked

Gren looked at me like I had got two heads its on a weeks trial he said if, at the end of the week, I want to keep it, I will then get it taxed, motd and insured ready for when I pass my test next Monday.

It slowly sunk in what he was saying; I was in a car that had no tax, insurance or mot and being driven by a learner driver.

Theyll throw the book at you if you get caught I said,

itll be raight youth he said with grin.

Gren was one of lifes eternal optimists and the statement itll be raight was, invariably, his answer to any problem he might encounter.

We eventually reached our destination, a stretch of the Trent at Barton Island, next to Attenborough pits. The river here split into two, as it went around the island creating, in effect, two smaller rivers and although I had never fished it, it looked good, my confidence soared. We chose two adjacent pegs and started assembling our gear.

Usual 5 on the side shouted Gren which meant that we were fishing for a 5 shilling bet (25p), 25p, in those days, was enough to buy a packet of fags so the equivalent today would be about a tenner!

OK mate I shouted back.(Match on!)

Taking a 4 pint bait container I walked up to Grens peg to get my bait. Now I was expecting a few maggots or casters, not the brown gunge that he filled, to the brim, my baitbox with.

Whats this I asked,

Tares came the reply.

I picked one up, looks like a black pea I stated how do you fish em? I had never seen Tares before.

Just like a maggot said Gren stick float and an 18 or 20.

I walked back to my peg, my confidence level had just plummeted, I wasnt actually sure if he was winding me up or not. It would be typical of him to let me blank all day, whilst he was bagging up on maggot or caster, but I would give it a go. I tackled up a four No 4 stick with three of the No 4s shirt buttoned and three, dust (No 8), droppers. Plumbing up I found about 6 of water with a good flow.

Halfway down my first trot I heard Gren shout got one Spenno and I looked round just as he was slipping the net under a nice Roach of about 12oz. This carried on for the next hour and the comments; Gorranother, whats up wi ya, and do you want me to come and tackle you up rang out on a regular basis, until I could stand it no longer. Pouring a cup of tea from my flask I went to see how he was doing it.

Whats happening mush he said.

Cant hit the bites I told him I am getting a bite a chuck but Ive not hit one yet.

Have a try with this one said Gren, passing me his rod.

I trotted down, the float dipped and, bang, I was in, thirty seconds later a half pound roach was in the net.I sneaked a look at his shotting pattern, he was using a small stick, the same as me, but had shotted it with No 8s, paired up. When I asked him the reason for this pattern he said,if you put anything bigger than a No 6 on your line the fish think they are Tares and you end up striking at false bites as they try to take the shot.

I went back, re-shotted and cast in, my float trotted about three yards and disappeared down a hole, my first fish was soon netted. The next hour I started to bag up getting a fish a chuck and I knew that I was catching him. However when we finally called it a day the scales put Gren ahead, 35Lb to my 28Lb. I paid up with good grace and then lamented the fact that we had not got a camera to record two of the best nets of Trent Roach that I had seen in years.

We packed up, loaded the Anglebox and made our way home.
I am still dubious about fish taking the shot and not convinced that it isn't just an old wives tale, although, I have often heard it since, especially with people fishing Hemp.

Tell you what mate I said, I get my bike back on Thursday, I will pick up some more Tares and we can come back Friday, but you will have to tell me how to cook them.

Brilliant said Gren, he then thought for a moment and said Ive had Monday off, now Im having Friday off, I may as well make it the week, what shall we do tomorrow?


Regular member
Sep 17, 2010
Apart from not so many fish, You just bought back a day in my life in the 60s.
My crusader sport blew a push rod and my cousin turned up in his mini. 3 of us got in the mini with tackle from brum to thrumpton.
Got lost in the fog on the way home, Happy days.

Thanks for some superb memories.

david white

Regular member
Site Supporter
Jan 6, 2011
You know what, change the mates name, the venue and I guess those of us around a certain age will have been there done that got the tee-shirt

If you doubt the fish giving false bites try trotting through a few times but without any bait on, I bet you'll get unhitable ' bites ' alter the shooting to sets of two and threes bunched together not so many if any false bites........

Brian the Fish

Older Member.
Site Supporter
Jul 26, 2003
Excellent read, I like your mate Grenville.....I knew a kid just like him.[:D]

Let us know when the book comes out.[:D]

pat 1948

22/09/13 - 17/03/18
In Memoriam
Sep 22, 2013
My old mate George Smith in the 70's was a doubler for your mate Gren, a wild ginger 'mop', and though he did grow a beard it really never came to anything[:D], often wondered what became of him.


Regular member
Site Supporter
Apr 18, 2004
Originally posted by Gwinear13

Apart from not so many fish, You just bought back a day in my life in the 60s.
My crusader sport blew a push rod and my cousin turned up in his mini. 3 of us got in the mini with tackle from brum to thrumpton.
Got lost in the fog on the way home, Happy days,

How do you blow a push rod I've had an awful lot of moto bikes and never come across that problem


Regular member
Dec 29, 2006
Great nostalgia...that sort of stuff is a pleasure to read...nice one Dave... keep on writing!
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