Do your decorating – I’m going fishing! (tench article and video, entry 296)

Do your decorating – I’m going fishing!

They say that time flies, well as I loaded the car to begin a gravel pit campaign, that certainly felt very true indeed. It only seemed like five minutes ago that I was filling the car with barbel gear on the evening of June 15 about to hit the River Severn for opening day. And here I was, nine months later, wondering where the weeks had gone. One thing is for sure though, as much as I love rivers, I also love gravel pits. Plus canals, streams, ponds and lakes. I think you get the picture.



The ‘bad old days’ of the close season

Having first picked up a rod when I was just a boy, I can remember the ‘bad old days’ when March 15 meant no fishing at all for 3 months. Yes, there was sea angling and fly fishing to be had, but as I lived as far from the coast as could be in England, that wasn’t an option. And because I came from a non-car family, and not an angling one at that, even the possibility of getting to a trout venue was way beyond my bicycle range.

So sit it out I did. I used to hate it, and can remember reading the print off my Mr Crabtree book and re-reading my big pile of Angling Times’ so much I could almost memorise them word for word. But the more I read, rather than satisfy my desires, they simply made my yearnings increase for June 16. But that was then and this is now, and from the mid 1990’s the close season no longer has the blanket coverage that it did.

In the early days many vowed to not fish and I am sure that if angling internet discussion boards existed back then as they do now, then they would make some of today’s heated threads appear very tame indeed!



The gravel pit in March

Do your decorating, but I’m going fishing

But one by one the overwhelming majority of anglers have embraced the new opportunities to fish. And more importantly, the almost apocalyptic prophecies of fish stocks being wiped out due to no break simply hasn’t happened at all. I heard an angler on the radio the other day defending the river close season by saying the reason that stillwaters have survived is only because they continue to be stocked.

Well, all I know is that the venues I fish are self-sustaining. The year-round fishing has no affect on them at all. There aren’t masses of dead fish that need to be replaced. I do smile at some of the arguments put forward for keeping a close season. The best one is so we can do our decorating. If you want to do some DIY then go and do it, but don’t bring fishing into it, the two are not related.

I will always respect the law on the close season, as I did all those years ago. And that’s why I am off the rivers for 3 months. If you want a break, take one. But don’t expect me to join you!





Tip of the week


Now is the time to get the tench gear out. The temperatures are on the rise and the fish will be feeding.

Whether it’s a gravel pit for the occasional big fish or a pond stuffed full of small ones – enjoy it. That’s what it’s all about.


More interested in ‘nuisance’ fish

Back to the gravel pit, and this was the 6th year on the trot that I have had a spring campaign on the venue. It’s not an easy place to fish, as you will read over the next 3 months of Angling Journal entries, but when it does throw up something, it will invariably be a good one. The mild spell meant that the carp anglers were already on the pit, but my favoured peg was free.

I gave it a go initially because it didn’t get that much attention from the carpers. In fact the ones that do fish it use it more as a base to put their boat-driven baits elsewhere. So that suited me. As the only dedicated overnight bream and tench angler on the pit I could do my thing without muscling in on prime carp swims. Plus I didn’t want to be in a carp hotspot anyway. Whilst I admire the dedication of the anglers, I’m more interested in ‘nuisance’ fish myself!



A nice tench to kick off the campaign

A single tench in two nights

I’ll share more about rigs and so on over the forthcoming weeks – this article has been taken up largely with my thoughts and musings on the close season – but suffice it to say that I caught a single tench just into dark on the second night. And as par for the course it was a nice one as well. I fished a venue a few years back where I caught large numbers of 4-5lb fish and occasionally a 6lb’er. But I would gladly exchange that for less quantity but the opportunity to get amongst bigger tench. I’ve had several nudging the double-figure barrier from this water, and considering it’s not a ‘recognised’ venue, that’s pretty impressive. But I do put the time in. For example on this opening session of the campaign I did 40 hours (with 2 rods, that’s 80 rod hours) for just the one fish. Not everyone’s cup of tea. But then again, you can always do the decorating instead!



Click on the icon for this week’s video clip


The week ahead

It’s back on the gravel pit for me next week, where I will again be doing a two-night session. Whether I catch tench ot bream, I’m not that fussed, either will do me.

(Originally posted March 2009)

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