John Searl Roach Book Launch
By Mark Wintle

A year’s hard work came together when John Searl’s roach book, ‘Chalk Stream Roach – The Ultimate Challenge’ was launched at the Land’s End pub near Twyford, Reading on Saturday 21st November.

Following the success of his limited edition book ‘A Brush with the Avon’ published two years ago, John had the idea for a book concentrating on the famed big roach of the Wessex chalk streams. Realising that his own big roach experiences, considerable though they are, would not be sufficient to fill a book, John looked for other anglers to give this book a more varied stance. Knowing many great roach anglers in the locality, he was able to persuade some of them to write detailed accounts of their greatest days catching big roach. As a result, each contributor wrote a chapter of around 8,000 words.

The other contributors, including roach angling legend Dave Howes and all-round maestro Dave Steuart, cover the Hampshire Avon, Dorset Stour, Dorset Frome, Test and Itchen. Some of the writers are well known; others had their first chance to get into print. What is common across all those taking part is a tremendous track record catching big roach with a combined total in excess of 2,000 2lb roach and umpteen 3lbers.

John Searle’s new book on specimen roach fishing….

On the day, there were in excess of 100 anglers present including all of the contributors (apart from John Bailey who wrote the short introduction) – John Searl, Dave Steuart, Pat MacManus, Ron Smith, Dave Howes, Peter Wheat, Mark Wintle and Vic Beyer – plus many big names and roach enthusiasts from the specimen world including Len Arbery, Pete Reading, Dave Gawthorne, Pete Cranstoun, John Everard, Martin Salter, Bob Buteux, Barry Horwood, Joe Langridge, Pete Rogers, Stu Allum, Frank Guttfield and Peter Garvan. The co-authors were busy signing copies of the new book, and it was also an opportunity to garner signatures for other books written by those present.

If you’d like to get your hands on a copy of this unique record of Wessex roach fishing history a few copies of the leather-bound version (only 100 numbered copies) at £180 are still available, along with the standard cloth-bound version (900 copies) at £35 (both versions plus £5 p&p) from John at his shop, The Art of Angling, West Street, Ringwood, Hants – 01425 489087 or visit his website


The great and the good of roach fishing assembled for the launch of John Searle’s new book at the Land’s End pub near Twyford, Reading on Saturday 21st November.