It probably all started at the back end of 2012, when I read confirmation on the old Cemex forum that my mate Alan Cooper had agreed to purchase the famous Roach Pit down in Hampshire. I knew Al was keen on two of Cemex Angling’s portfolio they were selling off, Rockford and Roach down Ringwood way as it happens. Rocky the bigger of the two at 55 acres, and Roach being a more manageable 25. Around the time, Roach and some of the other local waters were coming under the siege of otters. Here you have some of the most prized fish in the UK being slaughtered and Cemex obviously uninterested in pumping money into a lake which is up on the market. Enter Alan……Within days of the agreement being made, and pretty sure before contracts were signed, Al and co. took on the mammoth task of trying to erect an otter fence around whole perimeter of the lake. To give you a bit of perspective on how treasured Roach – anglers from all over different parts of the south, dropped everything and jumped into their motors to get down Ringwood and just help protect these carp of a dying breed. Unfortunately there was 1 more victim, a lovely old mid 30 that was found before all the work got completed. But Roach was saved!
Flash forward spring of this year while ordering a bit of bait off Al (http://www.perfectiongroundbaits.co.uk ), and I mentioned possibility of heading over to the UK for a week to mark my 30th. Having fished Thorney Weir in the Colne Valley back in 2011, and knowing there was tons of lovely scaleys in there I hadn’t caught, that was where I suggested to Al I’d head off to. What came next left me dribbling, as the words came down the cellular network, ‘why don’t you do a couple of nights down Roach[long pause]….., then head upto Reading and do a few nights at the Long Lake.’ Stood in the middle of a shopping centre, I wanted to scream the place down!(a regular occurrence in there anyway so no one would of probably batted an eyelid!) Next job was convincing ‘herself’ to let me off for the week, but with a few Jedi mind tricks and a family break later the ferry was booked and paid for.
I’d love to say the time flew in, but I’d be lying. Literally counting down the days, work became busier, family life as busy and money was getting tighter! I was keeping In touch with Al, the lakes weren’t fishing great. Roach had only 6 bites in 5 weeks, and a couple of them were losses due to the heavy weed growth this year. Finally the night of the 20th of September arrived, the car was packed to the neck and I was off not long after midnight. The ferry was eventful, bodies lay snoring all around me but I was buzzing too much to get any kip. 6am dock, and I took off in the darkness out of Holyhead.
There had been a bit of a change in plan, I was doing the Long Lake first for two nights, then Coops was driving me down to Roach Tuesday morning. I didn’t mind what it was panning out to be honest, but this gave me the opportunity to call into my mate Rob on the way down. Rob has pretty much mentored my carping since it all began back in the mid 90’s so it’s always good to see ‘The King’. Quick sandwich, coffee,and after pinching a tub of tigers I was off for the final hurdle of the journey toward Reading.
Was just on 1pm when I pulled into the car park of CWA Fishery’s Long Lake. Coops was just packing the van after doing the night on the pit next door. Quick rollie and yap when he received a pic of a new lake record of 32.10 out the day before. The Red Fish, a serious fish, one that put on 5lbs in 7 wks. I needed to wet a line! We walking past a little 50 acre bay of the famous Sonning Eye(once home 2nd biggest mirror in the UK at 57lbs!), next we came to the pit Coops had been targeting this year( another 50 acre) and over a small footbridge to the left of it we came to the Long. What can only be described as little piece of heaven, tucked away not 5 minutes from Reading town centre and I got it to MYSELF!
Quick lap, baiting a few margin spots as we went until we came to a swim called ‘the barracks’. We hadn’t even been stood there a few seconds before a lovely coloured mid twenty launched itself not 25 yards out. A good starting point as any, and over the next few hrs I moved twice over the amount of shows occurring out in front. It was ridiculous, there was only 70-75 fish in 8 acres and I’d seen 60-80 shows! Throwing singles at the them was my first mistake as the night past uneventful. The next morning the wind swung round and the sun came out making conditions less than ideal. To be honest, I pretty much spent the day walking around baiting the edges and looking for an opportunity to arise. At one stage as I was lowering some corn off a baiting spoon onto gravelly shelf, when one of the biggest residents ‘lead head’ came up straight in front of the corn, turning away showing why it got the name sake. It had the width and head of a 40!!
6pm came and coops arrived back down after a day rolling bait to do the night on the pit next door but after the previous blank and change in conditions, he chose to drop in next to me for the social. We talked about all things carpy, and I drilled Coops on info and history about the vast amount of waters in a 20 minutes radius. I really was in my element! Turning in just before 11.30pm, I had two rods out 50 yards over a 3kg of Co2, the new bait recently released by PGB. Coops had casually lobbed his out a little further, again with about 2-3kg over the top and I was little surprised when he woke me around 7am to say he had one in the retainer. Happy days! Quick weight and snaps, and it turned out this one had only come out for the first time since stocking only 4 days previous. Anyway, it looked amazing and you could see why the Long Lake is going to be one of the top waters in the country within a short space of time.
Time for a quick pack up(cough cough…not in my lifetime), and off to the cafe for fry up before we hit the bait factory on the way to Roach. My time at the Long had been brief, even if I blanked. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed being at a lake so much in my carping life. The transformation of the pit since it’s been taken over two & a half years ago has to be seen to be believed, but we’ll get to a little more on that later….