After a week’s holiday on the Dorset coast, it was nice to get back to the lake I’m currently fishing for tench. Certainly, as the month of August is drawing out, I wanted to get in a few more sessions for tench before I move on to pursuing other species. I must admit that after a concentrated summer targeting Tincas, my barbel, chub and pike feet were getting itchy!
Here in the Midlands, this summer has been a very dry one; rain has been scarce, almost non-existent. Consequently, not only are the rivers running low, but also the level of the stillwaters has dropped. Upon arriving for my first session in this week’s article, I found that I was able to set up on what is usually the bed of the lake!
The receding water had left behind exposed land that had been thoroughly dried by the scorching sun. It was actually a bit of a luxury to set up on flat terrain rather than the usual steep slope in this particular peg. Although the rods were set up in the muddy fringes of the lake, I was very comfortable indeed on the one level.
Within half an hour I had a violent take on my right hand rod, with the rod itself flying out of the rest! There is a dense bed of weeds about two rod lengths out in the peg I was fishing, and it was for that the fish headed. By the time I finally came to land the fish, I couldn’t see it, as a massive clump of weed had gathered around the swivel and covered the fish as it hung down!
The fish itself was a decent enough weight, another of the lake’s many 4’s. This was the twenty- seventh fish over the 4lb mark I had caught this summer from the water, weighing in at 4lb 5oz. It was in good condition, and after weighing and taking a photograph, it happily swam off back into the lake.
As I returned the fish I caught sight of a small grass snake that was swimming into the reed bed to the side of where I was fishing. I don’t know about you, but it’s those moments that put the icing on the angling cake. Being at the water’s edge is being very much at one with nature.
Although it was another very warm day, with temperatures in the low 20’s, there was a lovely refreshing breeze that blew directly into my face the whole of the session. I know we complain about the wind more often than not, but on this occasion it was very welcome! As the afternoon wore on, even though the sun began to drop in the sky, it still generated a lot of heat.
Following the early fish I had to wait until the last hour for the some more action. The first fish to make the net was a foul hooked tench, caught in its pectoral fin. It was only a small fish, certainly not over 3lb, so I didn’t have any agonising feelings as I returned it. Imagine catching the fish of a lifetime, only for it to be void because it was foul hooked!
But following the foul hooked fish I ended the session with a couple of tench that were within an ounce of each other weight-wise – 3-12-8 and 3-11-8. It’s certainly getting darker earlier now, and by 9.00 p.m. I had packed away and was heading back to the car. By the time I got there, twenty minutes later, it was dark.
My second session, weather wise, was identical. The gentle breeze blowing into my face was again very welcome indeed. As I’ve done in all of the sessions so far this campaign, I began by baiting up with corn and dead maggots. The splashing of the large balls of groundbait packed goodies certainly doesn’t put the fish off, as many times I have caught fish almost immediately after casting in.
And so it was when I cast out this time. I hardly had time to pour a drink when the rod tip started to tap. It didn’t look a tench bite; in fact I thought it was another of the roach that on some sessions I have been plagued with. As I struck and felt the fish fight, it didn’t feel like a tench either. I thought I had hooked a really nice roach. At 2lb 7oz, it would have been an excellent fish. Only, it wasn’t, because it was a tench after all!
For the rest of the session though, small roach pestered me. As soon as the bait hit the bottom, the taps began, which resulted in sucked grains of corn on the hair. How I longed for a passing pike to put the ‘fear of God’ into those fish and scatter them to another part of the lake. But it wasn’t to be; I had to endure the constant cycle of casting and re-casting, just to get bait out.
I did manage a couple of tench though, the first was just under 4lb – 3-14-8 – and the last one was the smallest of the campaign, a real baby at 1-2-0! The attention of the roach meant that as packing up time came round, I was glad to begin the long journey back to the car. With just one session left for tench this season, I was wondering whether my final trip would see me go out with a bang or a whimper.
Well, to be honest, it was more of the latter than the former. The conditions looked good – a warm overcast day, with a nice gentle breeze. However, I have noticed that the size of the fish I’ve been catching have definitely been getting smaller as the campaign has progressed.
Therefore it came as no surprise to first of all catch a fish that was just 1lb 12oz. And for a while that looked like the only fish of the session. However, right at the death, as darkness was drawing in, I had a tench of 3lb 10oz that saved the day!
However, it’s been a good campaign this summer. As I have already mentioned, I have caught twenty-seven fish over the 4lb mark. I also caught nineteen under 4lb as well, so the average size of the fish was decent enough, particularly when it’s been a few hours evening fishing only. The only hardship really has been the long trek to and from the car park. But we can’t have everything, can we?
As I made my final journey back to the car I was grateful for the enjoyable sport that the lake has provided for me this last few months. It really is a case of ‘Farewell Mr Tinca, it’s been nice knowing you’. But now it’s time to focus on other species, namely chub, barbel and pike. It’s been a good summer, but now it’s time to enjoy the autumn!
Article 7, originally published August 2003. If you like then why not share? Thanks)