20/04/2016 – Lochnaw Castle is the UKs leading specimen roach water and it produced my PB to date, a cracking fish weighing 2lb 11oz. My last trip to Lochnaw was in late October two years ago with my fishing mate James Champkin and although it was a successful trip we were subjected to some terrible weather. This time I was heading up the M6 in late April looking forward to a six night session in warmer conditions. After a gruelling ten hour journey I eventually arrived at the roach fishing mecca and set out to locate Kev who I had planned to meet prior to setting up. Kev is the man in the know at Lochnaw and I picked his brains for tips on location and bait. I settled in a swim called stair island that has produced some specimen redfins during past springs and targeted an area at a range of 60 yards. As soon as the bivy was set up the conditions turned and the warm air almost instantly turned cold as big strong northern gales pushed directly into stair island. Clear skies and cold northern winds was a trend throughout the session and it didn’t look good for the fishing.
I opted to use similar tactics as I did on my previous trip and fished three rods with short hooklinks in conjunction with a 35g cage feeder. As for hooklink material I used 5lb fluorocarbon fly leader which I have the upmost confidence in using. “5lb” I can hear the match fisherman cursing, but it is necessary for these roach not just because of the their size but Lochnaw has numerous rocks that can easily cut through lighter hooklinks. At the business end was a size 12 Drennan super specialist wide gape tied with a knotless knot and short hair suitable for a 10mm bottom bait. I considered my options for bait and decided to fully commit to the boilie approach with news from Kev that he notched up a staggering 280 small roach before getting through to the larger specimens and landing a stunning 2lb+ redfin. Although maggots were obviously effective fishing with them on three rods would be manic to say the least and I wanted to deter the smaller fish and hopefully get some sleep throughout my six night session. In the feeder was a mix of hemp, breadcrumb and some silver x roach groundbait.
The water temperature was bang on spawning temperature and I knew it wouldn’t be long before they were at their annual event. I kept on thinking about all the 2lb+ fish at the top end that could now be over the magical 3lb mark. Could I bank one of these magnificent creatures in such superb surroundings? Only time would tell.
The session started off slowly and before I knew it two nights had passed. It was freezing cold and the winds reached 60 miles per hour ripping my bivy pegs out and sending me into a state of panic. Its not an easy task to reconstruct your bivy in the dark, facing strong winds, all alone and after a few beers. As morning broke the wind eased and I completed some final repairs to my house before reconsidering my options. I didn’t feel that I was reaching the area that the roach would pass through to enter the back end of the lake. The wind was so strong that I could only manage a chuck of 30 yards and even wading out 20 yards I couldn’t hit the spot. I also made the decision to move if I blanked again that night and took a walk around the loch with Kev who showed me some production swims. I had a feeling that the fish were of the back of the cold wind and a few bays looked inviting but so did the area at distance from my swim which was partially shaded by the wind from a large island. it was time for a tactical change.
Looking to gain more distance I swapped the feeders for 2oz grippa leads. I had noticed some movement to my line when using cage feeders and I was confident that a combination of shallow water and strong winds were encouraging an undertow and moving the feeders. With this change I successfully reached the area and some confidence was restored. It didn’t take long before my left hand rod had a small drop back when the bobbin lifted sharply into the rod and the baitrunner began releasing line. It was more like a take from a carp then a roach. After a short but strong fight the fish was safely in the mesh and looking down I could tell she was a good one. She went 2lb 11oz on the scales and it equals my personal best for the species. I contacted Kev and he came down to take some great pictures. I was a happy man to say the least and decided to stay in the swim and continue with my successful method.
The next day passed uneventful and it wasn’t until Thursday when Kev joined me at lunchtime when I was to have some more success. We were sitting having a chat when out of the blue the bobbin on my left hand rod pulled tight and I coached another specimen into the waiting net. At 2lb 9oz I was again happy with the result. To celebrate my catch I poured myself a drink and relaxed in the stunning scenery that lochnaw offers. Following this I decided to put one of my rods out into the large area of water opposite the castle bank. As I was spombing out some bait I noticed something in the middle of the loch that was no duck. On closer inspection I realised that it was a deer swimming the distance of the loch and I was so amazed I had to consider how much I had actually drunk and confirm that I was not seeing things. I grabbed my camera and took some shots that turned out useless due to the lens not being suitable for long range photographs however you can make out the deer. Being all alone in the wilderness for six days hadn’t made me crazy after all.
On the last night of the session I managed a take on my rod in the large area of water opposite the castle bank. The fish was of a different calibre to the others and I’m sure it was a 3lb+ monster but the inevitable happened and after playing it carefully for a minute all went slack. The reality of what happened turned into a story of the one that got away and I was gutted. I packed up my kit in the morning and headed back home the 500 miles to Kent.
I just want to say a big thank you to Kev for all his help and will hopefully be back up soon. Cheers mate tight lines.