With tench like these, I’m not complaining (bream article, entry 194)

After perch fishing on the local canal, this week it was back to the gravel pit and the bream. I do tend to be really focused and whilst that has many advantages, sometimes it can have a downside too. And a perfect example of that was my pike campaign that I started the year with. In spite of struggling big time, I persevered and doggedly pursued the species again and again.

I’m not suggesting that sticking with something is a bad idea, far from it, just as I wouldn’t say that we quit a campaign the moment we get our first blank. But there has to be a balance somewhere, after all fishing is first and foremost about enjoyment, and there’s nothing like the odd fish now and then to keep the joy level topped up.

Therefore, after the lessons learned from piking I have decided to be more flexible, and in practical terms that means instead of being so focused and fishing for just one species at a time, I will switch more frequently. Therefore, at the moment it will be bream and perch that occupy my angling time. And with bream taking up at least a two-night session, it also means that I can fill in the odd half-day or less here and there with a visit to the canal.

But this week, as I have already written, it was back to bream. Arriving at the pit it was a beautiful day, and by the time I got to the peg, I had built up quite a sweat. Therefore it was quite a relief to know that the long walk had finally come to an end. It certainly is a ‘kitchen sink’ job when I do anything longer than an overnighter, and without doubt one of the heaviest individual items is the canister of water. For two nights I usually take about 13 litres, and the return journey is substantially lighter to say the least.

With the sun still high in the sky and hardly a ripple on the surface, I cast out, put the rods on the pod and prepared a meal. Therefore, halfway through a plate of red-hot chilli, imagine my surprise when the left rod suddenly came alive and line started to gently give. With a number of tufted ducks and coots over the baited area, initially I thought one of those had taken the bait. However, as soon as I struck I felt a fish, and at the same time knew it was a tench.

It was a decent enough fish, as you can see from the photograph. And although my target was bream, I wasn’t complaining in the slightest, after all I had caught something. With the venue being hard at the best of times, it’s always with a certain sense of relief that I slip the net under the first fish of any session. And within the hour I was doing the same thing again, this time to a larger tench.

As I wrote in my diary, this was ‘An excellent start to the session’, but I left my comments at that, as I know only too well that what looks like a session of a lifetime can very easily fizzle out. So I didn’t want to tempt fate by declaring something grand. As it happened, that was a wise move on my part! The rest of the night did not even develop into a single bleep on the indicator, and the blank between my 6.15 pm and 9.00 am diary entries says it all.

As per usual, the next day was quiet. Although I have taken bream at noon with the sun high in the sky, the pattern on the venue is quite orthodox as they usually come out in the hours of darkness. But I still make the most of the time and do some birding, albeit static as I can’t go wandering away from the rods. But with goldeneye, shovelers, gadwall, oystercatcher and bullfinch to name just a few, I certainly had a pleasurable time.

And talking of pattern, it was approximately the same time as the second fish the afternoon before when I once more had a take. With the swinger hardly moving, and having to tighten up to even get a response, this was a typical bream bite. And as I struck and reeled the fish in, if I were a betting man I’d have put money on it being my first slab of the campaign.

Well, it’s a good job I am not a gambler, I’d have ended up out of pocket, because as I brought the fish to the net I saw another tench in the water. I really was a surprise to me, I was absolutely sure it was a bream; the bite was a bream and the fight – or lack of it – was a bream. Yet it was a tench, and another good one.

And just like the first night, the second one also proved to be quiet. Apart from the rat that is. It was so bold that it kept coming right to the shelter before it eventually took notice of my arm waving and bolted. Then a few seconds later it would be back again. My mind went back 30-odd years, when as a kid I used to have a gat gun. In fact I even did an Internet search when I got back home, but the £25 price tag put me off. Then again I do encounter rats on a regular basis so maybe I will get my money’s worth…

Eventually though I drifted off to sleep and by the time I woke in the morning, the rat had long gone back to its hole in the ground, and I leisurely began to pack away. It was an overcast and damp morning, but at least it wasn’t raining. However, my mind was more on the fishing – six nights so far and yet to catch a single bream, but with tench like these I’m not complaining.

 (Originally published March 2007)


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