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For regular readers of my Angling Journal you will be aware that I have fished a particular lake in the last few weeks or so for both perch and carp and in the process have connected with some decent tench. Even though my tench fishing in recent years has been confined to a spring gravel pit campaign, the lure of targeting them on this relatively new (I only started fishing it late last year) venue was a temptation I simply couldn’t resist. Although I make my plans in terms of where I am intending to fish in the forthcoming weeks and months, nothing is set in stone. I find the benefits of organisation are many, but the flexibility to switch and change is important.
With the lake being wide, deep and long and the tench pretty much nocturnal feeders, not much changed really from my carp set-up and approach. It’s not like a small pool where you can fish with a float rod a length or so out in six feet of water at dawn or dusk. Therefore as I set my rods on the bank sticks after casting out, it looked like I was carp fishing. And even underwater that was the case, with 2oz leads fixed between two beads and a power gum knot and a short braid hook length to size 4 and 6 hooks and hair-rigged baits, I was to all intents and purposes a carper, see photograph one.
Fishing about three lengths out in 14 feet of water I baited up with brown crumb and ground cereal to the ratio of about 4:1. To this I added dead maggots and sweetcorn. In with the water from the lake went a measure of corn steep liquor. I put the bait out by hand spreading it over two areas each about the size of a small living room. There are various thoughts about baiting and how accurate you need to be, and I think that there is no hard and fast rule. This fits into my thoughts recently shared in an article on subjectivity within angling. In other words, there’s difference between a fact and an opinion.
Baits were double giant corn shaped boilies on one rod and a standard corn shaped boilie on the other, popped-up with a piece of yellow rig foam. Both were placed in corn dip and cast out with a PVA bag of pellets. It was the latter that produced the only fish of the session, the tench that you can see in photograph two above. It went some on the take and continued to go even more in the fight. So much so in fact that for a while I thought I was playing a carp. Now that would have been ironic! When after perch and carp I caught tench, and now I was after tench I had connected with a carp. As it was though, I eventually slipped a tinca over the waiting net.
Due to the windy conditions I had set up my old Fox Evolution shelter as opposed to my Trakker one as it is much more flexible when the wind really picks up. However it isn’t as waterproof, and by the time morning came round I was well and truly soaked. With water dripping in everywhere my pillow and sleeping bag may as well have been dipped in the lake. I think many an angler would have been thinking ‘What on earth am I doing here?’ whereas I was just planning my next trip! As someone who fished right through the last winter (and the one before) when just trying to find some open water even on rivers was like looking for a needle in a haystack, a bit of rain in the summer is hardly going to bother me is it really?
My second visit to the lake couldn’t have been different though weather-wise. It was a scorching hot day as I made my way along main, but rural, roads listening to some David Ruffin as I travelled. It was in fact the ‘Who I am’ album that accompanied me on the journey, with repeat button ensuring I had a few plays from it. I remember it first time round in the mid-70’s, doesn’t time fly? It contains the track ‘Walk away from love’ although my favourite David Ruffin song is also on there, ‘Heavy love’. And that was quite appropriate as I pushed a barrow load of gear around the venue once I got there. Apart from food and water and of course bait, I take as much stuff with me for one night as I would for a week. The rods, shelter, sleeping bag and so on are all needed whether for a few hours or a few days.
With the days getting longer and longer it was pushing 10.00pm before the sun started to fall over the horizon, as you can see in photograph three above. You can also make out the winged insects as they danced in the fading light of the day. After being hunted by swallows, house martins and sand martins all day, not to mention any fish should they fall on the water, dusk saw several common pipistrelle bats feeding through the night. It’s a hard life being a bug when everyone wants a piece of you. My bait approach was as per the first session regarding hook baits and I just omitted the dead maggots in the groundbait, so apart from that small detail everything was the same. I show my rig in the video and mention that I will go into that in more detail.
My main line was Sufix Synergy 10lb, which has been my regular line for some years. It hasn’t let me down and I always work on the basis that ‘if it ain’t broke then don’t mend it’. As you will see from the video clip I used back leads. These are Korum ones, they clip over the line after casting and the rubber coated material used means they slide very freely along and well out into the water. The braid hook length was Drennan 10lb Super Specialist Sinkbraid and the hooks Drennan boilie size 4 for the double giant corn shaped boilies and size 6 for the regular corn shaped boilie and rig foam bait. All very simple really, my philosophy is keep it that way to begin with and work from there if needs be. Fine tuning means that our fishing should always be evolving anyway, but why complicate things when they don’t need to be?
I was expecting something as dark drew in, after all why go fishing if you aren’t confident? However, my bite alarms remained silent and as I lay there ready for action, apart from the various bird noises around, the only man-made sound was my BlackBerry switching off at midnight. I guess I wasn’t long after, as undisturbed I drifted off. I was shaken from my slumbers though about 3.00am as a single toner alerted me to the fact that something had picked up the giant corn and was heading for as far away from the spot as possible. However on the lift, I found myself reeling in nothing more than a tangled hooklength. These things happen sometimes, but on a water where I’m not looking at many fish during a session, would I get another bite of the cherry?
I needn’t have worried though as a short time later, again on the giant corn, I had a similar run. Like the tench on session one I again thought I may be playing a carp, such was the fight. However it wasn’t but the fish that you can see in photograph four. As you can see, it was a cracking fish and certainly worth being woken up for, as I had once again dozed off. I don’t always weigh my fish and even when I do I don’t often declare the weight. One of the questions that I am always asked is ‘How big was it?’ because sadly we live in a society where we have lost sight of the value of an individual fish because we become obsessed with size. Yes it was a good fish, you can see that from the photograph, but the message I am always trying to get across is judge any fish by the venue not by size alone. A 4lb fish from one pool may be of more value than say a 7lb’er from another.
One thing I did notice though was how the glorious day a few hours before had transformed into a misty, damp night. Although it hadn’t rained, my sleeping bag was pretty damp as condensation water had steadily dripped through over a period of time following the setting of the sun. A few hours the other way though and another wonderful day was on the agenda. But it’s not about us, rather the world of the fish that is important. And they weren’t affected by anything as I had another run on the giant corn once again, and once more I thought it was a carp. But no, for the third time in this article it was a tench that I netted, and that’s the fish in the final photograph above. As you can see, another decent fish.
For some anglers catching three fish in two overnighters may be considered a failure or at the very least a waste of time. After all, as I am sometimes told via YouTube comments, ‘I can catch three fish in five minutes’ or words to that effect. But of course, as any specialist angler will know, it’s not about quantity but quality. The type of fishing that I do is most definitely a challenge and dedication and perseverance are essential ingredients that have to go into the mix. It’s not for everyone, of course, and that’s the beauty of angling. It can be to each and every one of us what we want it to. As for me, I have found my niche and I’m more than happy and contented. I prefer three quality tench in two nights from a challenging water to twenty small fish from a less demanding one in an afternoon. But that’s just me, as far as I’m concerned it’s each to their own and whatever floats our bait boat. But that’s why, for me, two nights plus three fish equals a result!
If you followed the video and wondered what the birds were that put in an appearance they were in order: mistle thrush, mute swan, grey wagtail, male reed bunting and jackdaw. The wagtail and the bunting together was special, in fact I was filming the former when out of nowhere came the latter. And you may be thinking about the clip of the fish and the alarm noise. I noticed a small group of tench in spawning mode, and even though it was by then quite sunny and I couldn’t see well, I pointed the camcorder and hoped for the best. Some of the shots didn’t work out but the one where they came so close in they connected with my line setting off the alarm did, so that’s what that is all about. (Published July 2 2011)
Watch accompanying video by clicking on icon above