I felt like a chicken on a spit! (tench article, entry 102)

There are many non-anglers that believe all you need is one rod, one reel with line on it, a few bits and pieces and that’s it – a sort of ‘one size fits all’ approach. But of course, for those of us that do fish, we know that reality is very different. That’s why – and certainly for those of us that take our fishing seriously – we amass a whole selection of tackle as the years go by. And the reason is not that we are magpies, but that modern day angling enables us to be very specific when it comes down to the business end of our pastime.

That’s why we have to think about each session, so that we are fishing with the right tackle for the job. On my current tench campaign I’m fishing with 8lb reel line and 7lb 6oz hook lengths. Although the size of the fish don’t necessarily warrant that, the fact is that I’m fishing close to natural snags such as lilies and dense reed beds, and as soon as a fish is hooked, that’s where it heads for. My reel line is Sufix Synergy, a brand I’ve been using for a long time with my philosophy being, ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’.

I’m using Reflo Powerline for the hook lengths, and whilst I only use it at this weight (as opposed to Sufix which I use in all strengths above 8lb) again it’s been a good line over the three seasons that I’ve been tench fishing with it. On one rod I am fishing hair rigged corn and for that I have opted for size 8 Drennan boilie hooks, whilst on the other I’m fishing corn direct on the hook which is a Drennan Super Specialist size 10. So there you have it – don’t say I don’t give any information away!

My first session this week was heralded as the warmest day of the year to date. It was also one that the weather forecasters said would bring thunderstorms and heavy rains – as some tragically found out for themselves in many parts of the country, especially North Yorkshire. Where I was, I could hear the storms all around, but as they were very localised all I got was a good soaking of rain. And as the air temperature had been low 30’s, that wasn’t a bad thing at all.

Fishing-wise I continued with my slow start to the season by catching just two tench, and both of them were just under the 4lb mark. But as I’m getting as many sessions in as possible, I was back on the lake a couple of days later. And what a contrast compared to the previous ones. In three trips I managed just five tench, but I almost doubled that on the fourth with nine fish, and in fact would have passed it had it not been for the couple of hook pulls I encountered.

So what was the difference? Well, nothing as far as I could see. I was fishing the same spot, with the same tackle and using the same bait. But isn’t it that unpredictability – not knowing what is around the corner – that spurs us on as anglers? It just wouldn’t be the same if we knew in advance how many fish we would catch, what time we would catch them, and their precise weight. Thank goodness for the unknown!

And to finish the week off I was back out on the Thursday for a final session, hoping to catch one of the elusive better quality fish that do inhabit the lake. I couldn’t have chosen a worse day weather-wise to do it either. It was an absolute scorcher with no wind at all and the surface of the lake was like a mirror. Sitting there angled on the bank, exposed to the full force of the sun, I felt like a chicken on a spit!

But thankfully, the tench were still feeding (I caught seven), although they were mostly in the high 3’s to high 4’s bracket. I did catch one though that registered as a ‘5’. It was actually the best fish of the week, and underlines the fact that the venue is fishing well below par, and certainly not a patch on last season. I was catching 5’s every session with the odd ‘6’ thrown in for good measure.

Still, I’ve given myself another couple of sessions to see out the mini-campaign, so hopefully I will improve on the current situation. But either way I am enjoying the fishing there, as it is a beautiful place, and that is what angling is really all about. You could catch monsters every week, but if you’re not at peace with your venue, then you’ll never be truly satisfied. As the old adage goes, ‘fishing is more than just catching fish’!

(Originally published June 2005)

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