HOW about this for a timely catch of a super specimen fish....

River ace Mark Everard recorded the biggest roach ever in the annual fundraising match for the Avon Roach Project with this 3 lb 2 oz monster.

And Mark predicts plenty more specimens coming through as the Avon Roach Project continue to restocks the river and create new natural spawning habitats.

Professor Mark, from Great Somerford, Wiltshire, said: “I opted to fish Winkton Fishery on the lower Hampshire Avon, kindly made available by Christchurch AC.

“The word ‘match’ is perhaps too strong a word as these much-anticipated occasions are really a meeting of old friends and roach obsessives.

“After fog early on, we were blessed with howling gales and cold rain… oh joy.

“I was stood out on an exposed bank trotting all day, but the pain was all worth it both for my fantastic roach catch but also to support the great cause that is the Avon Roach Project.

“The big roach was caught ‘properly’ on bread flake and liquidised bread loose feed, trotting with a centrepin using a great big 5 gr Avon float to control presentation in the current and swirling wind.

“I had hoped to bring the prototypes of my two new Dr Redfin Signature roach rods – a 15 ft float rod and 10ft 6in quivertip that I have designed but sadly they just didn’t arrive in time.

“So I used my trusty old 1980s Shimano XMA 15 foot rod, even older Speedia centrepin and 4 lb reel line.

“My favoured black-painted masonry nail was used as bulk weight, swivel in place of a dropper shot, and my 2.5 lb hook link was tied to a Kamasan B520 spade end hook.

“Trotting the top carrier at Winkton, feeding liquidised bread on each trot down, I was able to Wallis cast out to a relatively weed-free line in mid-river, working the bait to bounce over the top of the submerged weeds.

“I had five roach and a surprise rudd from that swim.

“The 3 lb 2 oz red-finned beauty, the first fish in the session, sunk the float decisively and bounced hard against the rod tip.

“Like most good roach, it rolled almost straight away and the red-tinged outline clearly screamed roach.

“I played if carefully, having to navigate it through two weed beds, finally bringing it to net. It looked enormous, and in fact was!

“My two witnesses where highly credible – fishery keeper Steve Griffiths and local ace Mick Scarborough.

“It may not be my biggest Hampshire Avon roach, I had a 3 lb 6 oz 4 dr roach in 1992, but that was before or perhaps during the precipitous crash of Avon roach that led to concerns underlying the founding of the Avon Roach Project.

“Perhaps as pleasing was I had eight roach in all including a 1 lb 1 oz fish.

“My 3 lb 2 oz fish would have been older than the ten years or so that the Avon Roach Project has been going, but the 1 lb 1 oz fish and pretty much every other roach caught could have been fish raised by the Project, or their progeny.

“This is total endorsement for the vision, dogged determination and hard graft put in by Trevor Harrop and Budgie Price, and many others,” concluded Mark.

Huge fundraiser for Avon Roach Project

The Avon Roach Project’s fundraising match and auction day pulled in an impressive £5,500 as they seek to restore the river.

Avon Roach Project co-founder Trevor Harrop revealed: “In the early years of the event roach never featured at all in the catch returns.

“Now they are doing so in increasing numbers each year. Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?

“Another angler caught nine gorgeous roach to 1 lb 6 oz which is great news.

“A previously rather roach-barren stretch of river, now has a sustainable population of roach. What an achievement for the Avon Roach Project.

“As well as continuing to grow roach from eggs, the investment in habitat improvement continues.”

Latest roach work by the Avon Roach Project.

Latest roach work by the Avon Roach Project.

Trevor continued: “We’ve just completed the largest and most effective excavation of a huge fry bay at Sopley on the lower part of the Avon historically renowned for its roach.

“This is the latest in a number initiated by Avon Roach Project over the years and a valuable accompaniment to the rest of our activities.

“We are also spearheading an initiative to increase the effectiveness of gravel spawning sites in the Avon in partnership with the Environment Agency.

“Capitalising on our knowledge and experiences and our now proven track record we aim to improve vital spawning substrate on an annually rotational basis for other fish species like barbel and chub using the same simple and pure techniques and holistic principles.

“I would like to say a huge heartfelt thank you to everyone for the fantastic support for our efforts,” concluded Trevor.

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