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Posts Tagged ‘Roach on the Itchen’


I have recently visited the Lower Itchen Fishery on two occasions but only for the roach fishing.  At one time you couldn’t have prized me away from the big grayling that used to be commonplace here but sadly those days seem to have gone and the desire to catch decent roach has taken over.

The Itchen has become quite famous for the quality of the specimen roach that it produces.  It regularly throws up good 2s and there seems to be plenty of fish over the 1lb mark to be had.  As always, a well run fishery with a good river keeper, seems to be the key.  They manage the river in all of its seasonal moods very well and this encourages quality fish reproduction and a very healthy environment for them to grow big.

The Mill Pool

The Mill Pool

On our first visit here, which was just after our Welsh trip, I was advised by Jez Brown to target an area just below the main mill.  It did look ideal with water gushing into a pool having passed under the old Mill itself.  It created a lovely big crease and I have to say, screamed roach.  So I decided to just sit it out here all day and feeder fish maggots.  The trip was on behalf of the Barbel Angler website and owner Micky Holtom was one of the guys down to fish.  We met as usual at the Winchester services where for the price of a small Principality you can buy a mediocre breakfast.  I declined the offer to eat and opted for a coffee instead.  All in all there would be about 20-25 of us.

So as I said I set-up a feeder rod and fished a medium sized Kamasan Black Cap to a 16 hook and double red maggot.  Casting out regularly to build up the swim, I kept bait going in continuously throughout the day.  However the first cast produced the biggest roach of the day for me at 1lb 4oz.  I followed that up with about 20 more roach to just under a pound but later in the day a pike moved in and I think spooked the roach.  All I could get after that was very sharp bites that were unhittable.

1lb 4oz Roach

1lb 4oz Roach

As well as the roach I had quite a mixed bag really.  Small chub, dace, gudgeon and about 6 or 7 Bream to 4lb 12oz came my way, so I had a lovely day’s mixed sport.  It kept me busy all day and and I rarely had any period of no action of some sort.  Perhaps I should have moved once that pike turned up and despite the Pallatrax boys (JeZ Brown and Luke Ayling) trying to coax the pike out on a dead bait, the swim was never quite the same.

4lb 12oz Bream

4lb 12oz Bream

We all met back at the car park and it seemed some had done reasonably well.  Jez and the other boys had taken grayling to a fraction under 2lbs, with numerous other rods taking some nice fish to around that mark too.  Keith Speer stuck it out in his swim, despite the slow going, and was eventually rewarded with a lovely roach of 2lb 8oz.  Geoff fished a spot that I particularly like at the lower end of the fishery and managed a number of nice roach to 1lb 11oz but sadly lost a couple of better fish.  Around 8 of us retired to the White Swan public house for one of their excellent carveries before the journey home.

Geoff's 1lb 11oz Roach

Geoff’s 1lb 11oz Roach

It was another great day in great company and lets hope there are many more to come.  Thanks lads.

On the second recent visit I again set out my stall for the roach.  I targeted the area Geoff had fished the week previously and my intention was stay there pretty much all day.  Both Kevin and Geoff opted for the top end of the fishery hoping for a decent grayling.  The river appeared to be really pushing through with a touch of colour.  The flow was perhaps a bit more than we would have liked but we had to make the most of what we had.

It seemed to be a busy day.  There were quite a few booked into the LIF stretch and lots of guys on the fee stretch.  None of this affected me as the spot I wanted to fish is awkward to access from the other bank so I had this spot to myself.  The usual tactics were employed: Avon float, bulk shot, 3lb mainline.  I started with breadflake to a 10 hook and on one of the first casts I landed a lovely 15oz roach shortly followed by another.  I then lost a fish and the swim seemed to die.  I took a break and poured myself a cup of steaming hot coffee and watched the planes appear over the treeline as they made their decent into the airfield nearby.  The roar of the jets engines rang in my ears but I’m so used to it I find it, in a perverse way, an enjoyable distraction from the fishing.

The Eastleigh Spitfire

The Eastleigh Spitfire

I phoned Geoff and it seemed the fishing was quite frustrating upstream.  The flow was making things difficult and Geoff had either bumped off or lost quite a few good grayling.  Between him and Kevin they did end up with a few though to about 1lb 13oz I think, but it was rather slow going.

Keith Speer wandered down for a chat late morning/lunchtime and we chewed the fat over coffee for a while when we were joined by one of Keith’s fishing pals.  He had already caught a couple of nice roach going 1lb 14oz and 2lb 1oz, so the big girls were feeding.  Keith had only managed to find the chub but had already taken around 8 or 9 nice fish.  Later on Keith’s mate had a further 2 good roach of 2lb and 2lb 8oz, so what a tremendous result that was and I think Keith ended up with about 15 chub.

The Itchen

The Itchen

I carried on fishing and swapping baits from maggots to bread.  The maggots certainly produced more bites and I had several fish around the 1lb mark.  As the light faded I hoped that some of the bigger fish would put in an appearance but sadly they failed to show.  Geoff struggled for bites once he moved down into this area mid to late afternoon but Kevin got amongst the chub below the road bridge and ended up with 11 and a couple of small roach.

A decent grayling

A decent grayling

So all in all another pleasant day on the river and with just a short time to go before the end of the season, here’s hoping for a successful final fling to one and all.

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