More than 45 years ago I learned the secret art of cheese fishing – not for chub in a river but for roach and tench in a park lake! Brynmill Park, Swansea was the venue, home of small roach and cheese fish of wondrous proportions in the eyes of a teenager more used to catching 1oz fish!
Alas Brynmill Park no longer allows fishing but the skills learned from the gurus of the day – Alan Godrich and Paul Huxtable- live on. Poles were not available then, you could get fibre glass telescopic whips up to 6m, elastics unheard of, everything was rod and line.
Alan developed a method of catching the better roach using cheese just over his rod top in about 3 foot of water. A pointed stick float was dotted with strung out shot to an 18 or 20 hook and a piece of cheese was moulded around the hook so that it was soft and just covered the hook. Small pieces were moulded and rolled as loose feed, only half a dozen at a time, one after the other they were tossed around the pimpled stick, the process repeated every five minutes or so. Bites when they came were dictated by the size of fish! The bigger fish rarely submerged the float, usually a minute lift or dip were all you would get, occasionally just a ripple emanating from the tip of the float, the medium to small fish would just submerge the float. Bait was interesting, Cheddar was the favorite closely followed by Red Leicester for the roach, but Caerphilly picked out the odd tench although it was a sod to keep on the hook!
Today’s weaponry makes it far easier to fish cheese at a greater distance and when combined with a micro pellet loose feed can prove deadly- especially for bream! Most commercial waters these days are fed with pellet, either by the anglers or the owners as a supplement to the anglers bait. Fish become accustomed to pellet but can also become wary, particularly the silvers who often have to wait for any left overs from the carp. Cheese can score as so few people think of using cheese it becomes a new flavour/food for the pellet fed fish and will pick out the older and wiser (usually bigger) specimens in the swim.
So how do I fish cheese today? Depending on the venue, the depth of water will dictate how far out you need to fish. You are looking for a flat bottom with at least 3 feet of water, at Blacklands I am fishing at 8m in 6-7 feet (as the depth is constant) but I would not try cheese any deeper than this unless there was a large head of big roach present. The basic rules still apply, float pimpled, strung out shot if in a shallower swim, my rig at Blacklands has a bulk 2 feet away from the hook and 2 no 10 droppers to a 6 inch hook length of 0.10mm Shogun, with a 20 0r 18 barbless B911. Elastics are very much dependent, as always, upon the size of fish likely to be encountered. At Blacklands I tend to opt for a no 6 latex, but have an 6-8 hollow rig set up as well if the bigger skimmers or roach move in, although generally I tend to stay on the no 6.
I use two types of float for my cheese fishing, both homemade; the first is a 0.5g version of the “Roach” with a 1.5mm tip for those times when you want a delicate approach and may want to string the shot out later in the day,
the second is a long glass stemmed diamond body variant taking 1g with a 2mm tip. I use this second float when I am confident that there are skimmers around and want to get the cheese down fast. Pimpling the 2mm tip gives a good visual marker even in wind affected water while the long stem gets down past any surface tow.
I prime the swim with a handful of micro pellet and half a dozen “pellets” of cheese cupped in, this is left for at least an hour and is topped up with a similar amount every 30 minutes.
When I go over the swim I am expecting a bite within 5 minutes but this time the bites can be sail-aways if coming from bream or skimmers but the big roach give the same type of bite as all those years ago!