Winter is a wonderful time to be targeting rivers as they can produce some brilliant sport. Angler's Mail suggests you try these winter fishing tips for roach, supplied by big fish ace Pete Reading.

BIG river roach are not as common as they once were, but they are still around and worth fishing for on some rivers.

You need to know that your quarry exists before taking on a winter roach session, so you need to do your homework first on that score.

There are signs of a roach recovery on many rivers, and it seems that there are more two and three pound-plus roach being reported lately.

ROACH slow pool


River roach are very often found to inhabit the slow, deeper stretches just upstream of weirs, and slow deep pools elsewhere on the river are favoured spots. Some large eddies and slacks are productive roach swims also, but they hate boily water.

Locating roach on your river will be essential before you go after them, and they often show themselves by rolling at dusk. You cannot catch a roach that is not there, so make sure they are about first!

River roach will respond to the same feeding cues as barbel, which is why I am always torn between which species to go for in the warm coloured water after a winter flood.


Bread flake is the number one bait for big winter roach when the ideal conditions come into play, and very similar tactics to those employed for chub can be used, although with roach you may need to go a bit finer. Chub will take bread at all depths, but roach will respond better to a bait fished tripping along the bottom, and bread punch on tiny hooks can be a real winner.

I have done better using a cage feeder, with liquidised bread mixed with crushed hemp as feed, and a piece of flake on a 12 hook on a longish hook length, but that may be because of my ineptitude with the float compared to some!

ROACH prebait hemp


I also like to fish for roach in conditions which are not seen as ideal, and have had some very big fish on the maggot feeder, but have found that the longer hook length and a single maggot on a 20 has been very effective.

Roach will switch on to maggots with enthusiasm at times, and I am not afraid to introduce a lot of bait with a baitdropper and use a large feeder. I will also baitdrop hemp in the winter, and if you are planning a roach campaign it will pay to do a bit of prebaiting with hemp in your target areas.

Good alternative baits for coldwater fishing are worms, casters and even sweetcorn; I remember taking several decent roach one freezing evening on corn, after struggling on bread flake.

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