Pushing the magical tench mark (tench article and video, entry 302)

Pushing the magical tench mark

There is a character in the Bible by the name of Methuselah, who is recorded as being the oldest person ever, reaching a grand old age of 969 years. Not wishing to get involved in theological debate about the literal interpretation of the Bible, so therefore taking it at face value, I often think I need to live to be that age just to do everything in angling that I want to. My head is full of plans, targets and ambitions – all desperately clambering over each other to make it to the top of the pile and become a reality as opposed to just another want on a long list of desires. Single species anglers don’t know how easy they have it, where the only choice for the dedicated barbel angler is which river to fish, or even which peg. But in spite of all that, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Back to the gravel pit


And this week’s deliberations saw gravel pit tench fishing at the top of the agenda. After a week on the canal last time round after roach, I was really looking forward to getting back to the windswept venue. If I could only use one word to describe a gravel pit it would have to be ‘windswept’, as it conjures up my own experiences. A vast area of water with a SW breeze racing across it; close your eyes, open them again and you could almost be on the seashore with the tide coming in. But great for tench!

There weren’t many anglers on the venue this time round, so swim ‘option b’ wasn’t needed, and I dropped into my first choice peg. Although the forecast was dry, I had brought my Armo bivvy as it is better for longer sessions. Doing a two-nighter I had also brought a chair and a bivvy table, as the extra space makes life that little bit more comfortable. But I wasn’t in the same league as the home-from-home carp angler who made three journeys to his swim, due to the mountain of gear he had.


Not quite a double but a great fish


Drennan, Fox and Sufix

If you watch the accompanying video, I talk about the rig I used on there. The reel line was 8lb Sufix Synergy, a brand I have used for breaking strains from this weight upwards for several years. I am of the opinion that if it isn’t broken then don’t fix it. Hooklength was Drennan Double Strength, again a confirmed favourite; although being a gravel pit it does need to be checked regularly, as well as the main line of course. A 1.5 ounce lead is enough to cast out to the area I was fishing at and also to create a bolt rig effect. Hook was Drennan Boilie, size 4 on one rod and size 6 on the other. The baits (artificial corn and yellow rig foam) were popped up, aided and abetted by a Fox SSG weight that has a stretchy rubber band so that the line is not damaged.

I always cast out with small PVA bags of pellets as well. Not only does this give that little bit of an extra attraction around the hook bait, but it eliminates tangling. As my baits may be out there for some considerable time I need to have full confidence that everything is in order. The venue is difficult enough as it is without making it impossible. I was fishing by 4.15pm, which a month or so ago would have been approaching dusk, but now is some hours away from even the onset of darkness.


A lovely shot of a speckled wood


A brace of tench and a lost carp

I caught a couple of tench on the session, both of which feature on the video. The first one was caught at 1.30am on the opening night (it sounds like a Broadway show) with the other being my first daytime tench this spring. I knew from the fight that it was a good fish and until I actually saw it in the water I wondered whether I had hooked a small carp. It was then that my pulse notched up a few extra beats per minute as it looked like I could have my first double from the venue.

But it wasn’t to be. As you can see from the photograph it’s both a long and substantial fish, so I’m sure you can understand why my hopes were raised. But I certainly wasn’t deflated. Far from it in fact, it was a lovely fish to catch. The day I get down over a big 9lb tench, I think I may need to step back and re-think! I had one more fish on, right at the end. This time it was a carp that took off like an express train and left me reeling in a broken hook length.

Nature is well and truly woken up

As an angler who also takes more than a passing interest in the natural world around me, it’s been very noticeable this last few weeks in particular just how things have come on in leaps and bounds. I saw my first speckled wood butterfly of the year, and it certainly wasn’t camera shy as it happily posed for some great close-up shots. Up until recent times it was very much confined to southern England, but the slight increase in overall temperatures (global warming?) has seen it gradually push its range northwards. Even if you aren’t into butterflies yourself, I’m sure you will agree that it is a beautiful creature.

This week’s video

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(Originally published May 2009)

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