Part One - Specimen roach (Rutilus rutilus)

Mon 06 February 12


Alan with a stunning specimen roach

UKMA: What type of venue would you choose and at what time of year and what do you look for when choosing a swim when targeting specimen roach, giving details of preferred habitat in all venues (rivers lakes etc)

Alan Stagg: Most of my fishing for big roach has been on gravel pits as these rich environments often hold the biggest roach. The Oxfordshire pits are a prime example and they only allow roach fishing during the winter month. This helps give the roach a time of rest during the summer and autumn months allowing them to thrive on neglect. These venues also contain carp and the roach quickly switch onto high protein baits, which can only help them grow to specimen sizes. Often these venues are low in stocking density and I believe will challenge the record.

Another venue I have fished is a small farm pond in the south of the county, which totals 3 acres in size. The venue is stream fed creating a good environment for the fish. This venue holds a large number of roach with the chance of an outsized specimen. The two venues are very contrasting. The former holds a low stock amount of very big fish, which have accounted for my personal best fish weighing 3lb 8oz (pictured above). A venue which I have fished three times this winter and on each occasion a magical 3lb fish has graced my net. The second venue could be described more as bites water holding a large head of roach mainly averaging 1lb 12oz to low 2lb fish. Multiple catches are common on a venue like this.

UKMA: What tackle and tactics would you use and why, giving details of rods, reels, rigs and any seasonal variations when targeting specimen roach.

Alan Stagg: My tackle is very simple and I use what I think will give me the best opportunity of getting a bite and items that I know I can trust and will not let me down. The last thing I want is to wait 2 days for a bite to be let down my inferior tackle. My favoured set up is a helicopter rig, which provides the ultimate hooking ability. I would love to be able to float fish for big fish but the bites are so few and far between that it really isn’t an option.

My tackle consists of the following:
Korum Precision Multi feeder rods
4010 Shimano Bait runner reels
8lb Gardner Hydro Flo Mainline or 6lb GR60
4lb Gardner Mirage Fluorocarbon hooklengths
Korum medium float stops and mini anti tangle sleeves
Size 20 Swivels
30g or 50g Preston Quick Load feeders.
Size 18 Drennan Carbon Specimen hooks

When using this rig it is important to keep the hook lengths as short as possible to increase the self hook properties. I like to keep my hook lengths no more than 3 inches in length. I always store them on a rig board before using them to straighten the fluorocarbon ensuring they are perfect.
It is important when using this rig that an abrasive mainline is used. Casting large feeders full of maggots 50+ yards can test tackle to the limit. Rods need to be forgiving, as it is easy to pull small hooks from big fish especially at the net.

UKMA: What baits would you use and at what times of year would you use these baits when targeting specimen roach

Alan Stagg: White maggots are my favourite bait when targeting big roach. The white colour means they are very visible. I like to remove any sawdust or maize from the maggots and cover them in a generous helping of Sonubaits Super Crush Green ground bait. This is made from finely ground fishmeals. This method can work particularly well when carp anglers have introduced fishmeals baits though the summer and autumn months.

When fishing for multiple catches I will often recast regularly, maybe every 20-30 minutes. However, when conditions are cold and I am hoping for one bite on big fish water then it is a waiting game. It is not unusual to half fill the feeder and cast 2 or 3 times a day. Feeding times will often be short and only a sprinkling of maggots around the hook bait is enough to tempt a bite.

UKMA: Give an in depth guide to preparation of your baits, the techniques and additives you would use and how you would feed the swim at different times of the year when targeting specimen roach

Alan Stagg: Included in above answers.

UKMA: Do you have any personal tricks or tips that have been past on to you by other anglers or that you have discovered yourself, that would help improve an anglers chances of catching a specimen roach

Alan Stagg: My number one tip is to never give up. The best time to target big roach is in the winter months. Make sure you keep warm and stay comfortable. Feeding times will often be short and it is not uncommon when fishing the big fish venues to have one or two chances in a 48 hour or 72 hour session.

It can be beneficial to take note of the time you and other anglers around you are experiencing action. Doing this will allow you to define the feeding periods of the fish. Watching the water at dawn and dusk is key; the fish will often roll at this time giving away their location. Keep your casting as accurate as possible. Once you have found a hot area concentrate all the rods in a very tight area. I will often fish three rods on an area no more than 20 feet wide if it is producing.


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