Best tench of the year so far – twice (bream article, entry 252)

I knew that I was in for a tough session before I even got to the gravel pit. A casual look at the weather forecast of strong NE wind and heavy rain was all I needed to know as far as what lay ahead was concerned. But it will take more than a spot of adverse weather to keep me away from my ongoing passion with angling. I recently celebrated my 46 th birthday and as I edge on towards the big five-o, I am experiencing no slow-down whatsoever as far as enthusiasm is concerned. In fact it’s quite the opposite as I continue to thrive on a hunger for angling.

I did my best at the water’s edge to pitch up in such a way that the effects of the rain would be minimal, but due to the position of the peg in regards to the wind, that was always going to be an uphill battle if I was expecting to keep out of the full force of what mother nature was throwing at me. Whilst I usually leave the shelter till last, this time it was the first task once I arrived in the swim.

It had been dark for an hour or so when the first fish came. I knew from the initial run of line through the bite alarm that it was a tench, but it was only when it got to within twenty metres of the bank did it really come alive. In fact the difference was so marked that I wondered if a pike had latched on to it, such was the resistance. But there was no attached predator, just my biggest tench of the campaign so far.

By the time it had been weighed, photographed and released I was absolutely soaked. So much so, in fact, that I took off my fleece as it was very uncomfortable. I prefer to be cold rather than wet any day of the week and so even though I was still damp, the extreme had been removed along with the all-in-one suit. As the night wore on, I pulled the sleeping bag over my head and gradually drifted off into a sleep, from which I was woken by the sound of a bite alarm, just after midnight.

By now the rain had eased off, so it was a grateful angler that netted a bream. I managed to get more sleep following this fish, as the second tench of the session left it until 4.00am before taking the 10mm pineapple boilie that was fished just off the plateau that lies directly in front of me in this particular swim. The fame of the previous tench as the biggest of the year so far lasted just a few hours, as this one was four ounces heavier.

The fish was caught and returned to the sound of a reed warbler in bankside vegetation. This fishing session saw me tick four new birds for the year – common tern, house martin, swift and the warbler. The summer migration is now well and truly here as once the swifts start to appear you know that pretty much everything is as it should be for the summer. They have one of the shortest visits, as not only are they among the last to arrive, they are also the first to go. So if you have swifts in your area, enjoy them while you can, because before you know it, autumn will be just around the corner!

The second session of the week, another overnighter, was conducted in very different conditions. Not only was it dry but it was warm as well. So warm in fact, that I was able to keep just my Wolves shirt on right up until the sun set. Fishing at distance, as I am on the gravel pit, clothing is not an issue. Someone needs to tell the carp anglers though as they are decked out in expensive camouflaged, even though the majority are fishing in excess of sixty metres from the bank! But having said that though, I have no issue with whatever people want to wear. There’s nothing wrong with ‘looking the part’.

I again was able to fish my chosen swim and as per usual I catapulted balls of brown crumb, corn and dead maggots out to the feature. I have been through this procedure so many times over recent years that I could certainly do it without the aid of the marker float. But I never cut corners and so always put the float in place first. I want to know exactly where my bait is landing and with a vast expanse of water in front of me it is imperative that I eliminate guesswork and rely on the facts. When you cast out just once in a session, as I sometimes do, you need to know with absolute certainty that everything is as you want it to be.

I have been fishing one rod with corn and the other with pineapple boilie, and the latter is definitely out-fishing the former at the present. And it was to be the case on this session too, as the one fish caught came to the boilie, although I did later pull out of a bream on corn. The tench was another decent one, and as I am emphatically in the quality over quantity camp, catching just one fish, as long as it’s a good one, doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

Non-anglers can’t understand how I can be happy with just one fish after staying out all night long. They assume that the expectation level in terms of numbers caught is much higher than normal. But as a specimen angler I would sooner catch one 9lb tench than twenty 4lb’ers. Of course, not everyone would agree with me on that statement, but that’s the beauty of fishing – it can be to us whatever we want it to be.

You can be a warm-weather-down-the-canal-for-a-couple-of-hours angler or you can have the sort of dedication that makes people think you are crazy. But there is no right or wrong. Just as long as you enjoy what you do, that’s what really matters.

(Originally published May 2008)

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