Tactically Tricky Thames Session

Silverfisher

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So after a couple weekend off the banks for social reasons I decided to use another days holiday to get back on the banks of the Thames today. Conditions were rather different to the last few sessions I had back in the glory days of the first half of the season as now we’re in the second half of the season we have as usual had the first few frosts and got rather close to a flood or two. As such it wasn’t all that clear what to do as reports this week have suggested the frosts have killed the roach fishing as usual but very few bream or chub had been coming out either. Initial thought was to try the sandford old channel as it was a mild enough day that once the frost thawed the roach would surely feed there. But I had grandad with me who wasn’t feeling up to the walk having had his Covid booster yesterday so we dropped into the swim opposite the meadows thats fished well for roach in recent months.

On starting the session deliberately late just after 9 to let it warm up a bit the river was a nice colour but probably a touch too quick for roach on the float in such cold water so I decided to start on the feeder to try get a bream even if it did appear a little clear for them. That did seem to be the case as up until mid day it was just a stream of gudgeon and missed gudgeon bites save for the odd silver so I abandoned that to try trotting now it had warmed up. That started very slowly with just the odd small chub and dace before I finally got some roach going which made me think that I should have tried it earlier. But tbh they were still very infrequent and of a much smaller stamp than I had throughout the first half of the season so I soon lost interest in that so for the last half hour on the feeder til just after 3 for just more gudgeon. All in I probably only had about three dozen fish of which over half were gudgeon with the rest roach save for 3 dace and 3 chub. Obviously wouldn’t have amounted to much weight but probably a few pounds courtesy of the chub being of that big chublet/small proper chub size.

Tackle wise the feeder set up was the 11t drennan twin tip duo Avon/quiver paired with a cadence CS7 4000 FD reel loaded with 5lb hyper sensor to a 50g kamasan black cap feeder (hence the heavy rod) to a 3.3lb Drennan Fluoro hooklinks to a size 16 Drennan wide gape hook. Float set up was the 14ft Drennan acolyte ultra float rod paired with a 2500 shimano sahara RD reel loaded with 3lb maxima to a 4bb drennan stick to a size 18 to 2lb Drennan silverfish hook to nylon set up in about 4.5ft of water. Hook bait for the feeder was double red maggot ( hadnothing on bread or corn) with the same plus hemp and silver x roach groundbait (not ideal an ideal groundbait wasn’t very prepared!) and on float it was single maggot over loose feed of maggots. Fed a bit of hemp but in hindsight not enough, basically got myself into a bit of a funk in terms of what I was trying to do tbh!

Grandad did probably the most logical thing for a fairly quick, fairly cold and only slightly coloured swim by targeting chub on the bread feeder. He only has a couple of them again of the big chublet/small proper chub size but also had a couple very nice roach with one of them a real proper one. Second big roach his had from this spot in a month.

All in all not the best session (certainly not worthy of such a waffley report!) basically down to not picking an ideal peg to start with then not fishing said peg very well either. Given how much it warmed up I’m sure we could have caught a much better number of better sized roach from a slightly slower slightly deeper swim and maybe even done so from this swim with more thought and it was never likely to produce bream really. But now we’re in the second half of the season we can’t expect it to be as simple to figure out as the bountiful days of the first half of the season and at least we caught a few which can’t be said for some of those that were out at the weekend from reports I’ve read. Won’t be out next weekend due to social events again so next session will be a couple weeks away. If it’s still mild it’ll be on the Thames but if it’s gone cold I’m tempted to head south to one of the chalkstreams for a few days.

Pics of the swim, a chub, a roach and grandad with his big roach.

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Northantslad

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Cracking Roach there. Been some big Barbel coming out of the thames too and the river may just be pushing the trent for the next record. Looks Barbelly there too, any in that stretch?
 

Silverfisher

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Cracking Roach there. Been some big Barbel coming out of the thames too and the river may just be pushing the trent for the next record. Looks Barbelly there too, any in that stretch?
It was indeed been a few good sized roach coming out recently amongst the more typical sized ones.

Very occasionally barbel come out of that stretch along with another literally just upstream but they are thin on the ground so it’s a fairly secretive scene. Like most stretches around here it’s mostly known for roach although it does do quite a few big perch and tench as well.
 

Silverfisher

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Nice one mush, how I would love that river in my neck of the woods.
Thanks mate and yes I’m very lucky to live by it. It was a tough nut to crack today but generally speaking it’s been very kind to me over the last few years. Certainly a very consistently good fishery through the first half of most seasons just have to play the weather lottery through the second half a bit.
 

MarkW

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I keep suggesting you learn the moving feeder (using a feeder that takes just 3 to 10grams) with bread; it's the perfect method on the autumn/winter Thames and will catch you the chub as well as the big roach. One day....
 

Silverfisher

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I keep suggesting you learn the moving feeder (using a feeder that takes just 3 to 10grams) with bread; it's the perfect method on the autumn/winter Thames and will catch you the chub as well as the big roach. One day....
I’ll try it at some point, it’s mainly just that I’ve not fished the river much past the easier half of the season in the last couple years so haven’t needed/had time to try yet. I’ve basically done well on seed or maggot through the summer and early autumn but then only managed a couple tougher sessions around late autumn before it floods then I don’t get the chance to fish the river again. Fingers crossed it won’t flood so early this year as the forecast is looking promising at the moment.

Grandad tries sort of that method most times out from October onwards though, admittedly with 15-20g feeders so bit different but they certainly still move just slower I guess. He’s only had one good session on it which was last October which wasn’t really the best indicator of its abilities as I had a load on the float that day as well so was just one of those days when probably anything would have worked. He tried it yesterday for maybe an hour and only had a single 10z roach as opposed to the bigger one and the chub when he held with a bigger feeder. Possibly due to a still too heavy a feeder by the sounds of it though 🤔
 

david white

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I keep suggesting you learn the moving feeder (using a feeder that takes just 3 to 10grams) with bread; it's the perfect method on the autumn/winter Thames and will catch you the chub as well as the big roach. One day....
I remember many years ago I was shown by an old chap how to bounce a round ball type ledger weight across the bottom using bread flake or crust on the hook, essentially looking back it was a form of touch ledgering with a mobil bait just holding bottom, the roach use to love the presentation
 

MarkW

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Now's the time to learn. I can give you full details on how. It's an easy method that just needs a single-minded approach. It comes recommended by Peter Stone and Andy Nellist; what better recommendation do you want?
 

MarkW

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I remember many years ago I was shown by an old chap how to bounce a round ball type ledger weight across the bottom using bread flake or crust on the hook, essentially looking back it was a form of touch ledgering with a mobil bait just holding bottom, the roach use to love the presentation
Peter Stone writes about doing this in his Legering book.
 
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