Groundhog Day Re-visited (tench article, entry 54)

The lake where I am currently fishing for tench is not likely to throw up any ‘monsters’ – in fact with most fish in the 4-5lb bracket, even the capture of a ‘6’ is a good tench for the water. But it’s local, so doesn’t involve lots of travelling, and I’m enjoying it. And above all, the latter should be the most important aspect of our angling.

On my first session in this article, I managed four tench, two were under 4lb (but still high 3’s) and the others weighed in at 4-12-0 and 5-4-0. I also had a few small roach and it was while I was bringing one of these in that I suddenly found myself connected with something much larger.

I knew instantly what had happened – a pike had taken the fish as it was being reeled in. It fought well for a few moments and I was expecting the predator to eventually let go, after all it wasn’t hooked but was simply holding onto the small roach. But like a dog with a bone, it was very determined to hang on, and so eventually I slipped the net under it!

It was only then that it realised what had happened, and its grip of a now mashed fish was released. The pike itself was about 3lb and happily swam off into the lake! I do like pike fishing, and once the summer is ‘out the way’, and my tench campaign comes to an end, I will be turning at least part of my attention to pursuing the species. But until then, I have plenty more tenching to do.

And so it was I returned to the lake again. It was a warm day with lots of cloud and a gentle breeze – good tench weather I thought to myself as I made my way to the peg I had chosen to fish. On this occasion there was just one other angler on the venue, which is quite a sizeable one. There are certainly no worries about getting a swim, as the lake is either empty or occupied by just the odd fisherman. That suits me to be honest!

Within half an hour of baiting up I netted the first tench of the session, weighing in at 4-7-0. Over a regular period of time I added fish of 5-3-0, 4-12-8 and a smaller one about 2 ¾ lb to ensure plenty of action to keep me happy. Then an incident happened that prompted the heading for this article.

I noticed a Gull making its way across the lake, high up in the sky. I could see it was a Black Backed Gull, but couldn’t quite make out whether it was a Lesser or Greater. As I concentrated on the bird, suddenly I had an almighty take from a fish that literally took the rod out of the rest and dragged it into the lake. Instinctively I jumped into the water and struck. My initial thoughts were a very big tench (contrary to the opening statement that there are no monsters in the lake, who really knows what lies beneath the surface) or perhaps a carp.

Anyway, after the initial excitement I found myself netting a fish that was just 5-4-0! Standing there up to my ankles in water in the margins, Groundhog Day had arrived once more. (If you read my Journal regularly you will know that this season I have almost had a magnetic attraction for water!)

And to round things off on this score, I did have a good fish towards the end of the session that took me into a dense reed bed. Unable to get it out, and very concerned about leaving a tethered tench in the vegetation, I waded out (knee high) and although I didn’t get the fish, I did retrieve the tackle intact – so no damage done. It was indeed Groundhog Day re-visited!

I once more made the journey on what has become a well-beaten track, to visit the lake for the third and final session of the article. The car park was surprisingly full, (which contradicts my earlier statement!) but I was still able to get the peg I wanted. On most venues, it is always the swims nearest the car park that get taken first – if you’re prepared to walk a little, you can always get a decent spot.

It was a sunny day and consequently a few people were walking around the lake. I did get a few ‘sky-line’ in my swim, but as they wouldn’t be aware of what they were doing, I didn’t have a problem with that. It’s when anglers, who should know better, do it that I take issue.

The session itself was very slow. Apart from roach that seemed to reside in the swim throughout, the only tench landed was a fish of 5-13-0. As I have caught a ‘6’ for each Journal entry so far this campaign, it would have been nice to have had another, but I’ll settle for a high ‘5’.

However, the trip did prove to be very entertaining – literally! I had noticed a large marquee in the next field and watched as a crowd slowly gathered during the afternoon. Then when a group of musicians turned up, I knew I was in for some music while I fished! They had quite a repertoire, ranging from ‘The Sound Of Music’ through to ‘The Lion King’ and taking in songs from musicals such as Grease and Oliver on the way. However, in all honesty I think I will stick with Tamla Motown as my preferred choice!

(Originally published July 2004)

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