Forty and still going strong (tench article and video, entry 300)

Forty – and still going strong

Depending on how you look at it, reaching the age of forty is either the start of better things to come or it’s all downhill from then on. Well having reached that milestone myself already, as far as I’m concerned, it’s definitely the former. But what about the big 4-0 in angling, as this was my fortieth session of the year! It sounds a lot for the middle of April – and it is – but I have made a lot of very short trips to the local canal pursuing the perch. And it’s amazing how they have clocked up the sessions. But on this occasion I was going to the other end of the spectrum, as I was about to embark on a three-night visit to the gravel pit I have been fishing lately.


Fishing a new swim


As it was an extended stay – plus rain was forecast – I packed my bivvy as opposed to the usual Fox Evolution shelter that goes with me. My bivvy is a Trakker 2-man Armo and is pretty substantial in terms of size, and so with many of the swims being quite tight on the venue, I really needed my first-choice peg to be free. In six years of fishing there I have only ever known another angler in there twice, and could you believe it, it was occupied this time round.

But it didn’t bother me. It’s an open water and other anglers have as much right to be on there and fish where they like as I do. So I simply carried on another 100 metres and found that choice number two was free. It is a nice flat, grassy open swim and so from the angle of pitching up a bivvy, it’s perfect. But what about the fishing potential? That’s what it’s all about really isn’t it, because at the end of the day I am an angler not a camper.


I was very pleased to catch this fish


Making a map of the bed

I set up my marker float and using a five ounce lead I started to cast out and draw a map of the bed of the pit. With so much open water in front of me, the last thing I want to do is ‘chuck it and chance it’. With three nights ahead I wanted to know exactly what was out there. I cast out and drew the lead back every few feet before releasing the line, allowing the marker float to reach the surface. By measuring the line that was let I was able to draw a map in my A5 notebook that accompanies me on all my angling sessions. I’m always writing things down, as far as I’m concerned it’s good if you can store information in your mind but even better if you can get it down on paper.

What I really wanted was to find that the area in front of me was flat with a lovely plateau rising forty metres out. However that wasn’t to be.It was an undulating bed, with depths beyond the margins ranging from 10 feet to 14 feet, but more crucially, nothing that stood out as an obvious feature. I studied the map I had drawn up for ages before I finally got round to setting up the rods. Where would the fish be? Where would their feeding route take them? Would they bear north at that slope or would they continue to feed the rise? Lots of questions that needed confident answers!


Two hours later and tench number two


The fish come together on night two

Anyway, after great deliberation I eventually settled on a spot 8 rod lengths out, fishing a gentle slope that went from 10 feet down to 14 feet. I baited up a second area in the margin, just beyond the drop-off, although by the third night I was putting both baits out to the slope. The first and third nights threw up blanks, but the second one produced the goods, two very respectable tench. I put a lot of time in, yet the only two fish of the session came within two hours of each other.

Apart from the fish, the only real excitement that I had was when a mouse ran into my bivvy in the middle of the day. I tried everything to get it out, and in the end had to empty the bivvy and force it out with a towel. I don’t mind mice but I draw the line at having them in my living quarters with me. As for the rats, well they were out in force. That goes without saying on this venue.

Rain, rain and more rain

After a long period of relatively dry weather, the rain made up for its absence with a performance that would have had gardeners celebrating. But it meant that I was pretty much confined ‘indoors’ for the session. I was able to watch the birds though from inside and saw my first house martins of the year, as well as numerous sand martins, barn swallows, oystercatcher and several singing chiffchaff. It was a slow session on the fishing front, but being in a new swim and one that didn’t have stand-out features at that, I was a happy enough Easter bunny. Yes, I’d have liked another two fish, but the same number the other direction and I’d have been a blanker.

This week’s video

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(Originally published April 2009)

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