The ones that got away – and the ones that didn’t (Tench, entry 514)

If the young lady in last week’s entry thought two nights on the bank was a holiday, I don’t know what she would have made of my session this time round. With a run of free time in my diary, I loaded the car and set off for five nights on my Midlands gravel pit venue.

My bait preparation including boiling two big saucepans of hemp which was then flavoured with SBS corn steep liquor. On the bank I added sweetcorn and groundbait (SBS sweet fruit), moulded it into small balls and fired it out to a plateau in eight feet of water. It was six feet last year but the level of the pit has risen substantially.

I baptised my leg
I baptised my leg

One of the first things I did on arrival late evening was to baptise my leg up to my knee. And a proper full immersion job as well, not a sprinkle. Note to self: It was Jesus who walked on water, not Peter. Well he did for a while, then he sank. Fortunately it was the hottest day of the year to date and in no time at all I was dried out.

Fishing 3x corn-shaped popper boilies (SBS), I cast out and waited. I was awake till well after midnight before I dozed off. The next time I entered the land of the fully living was about 7.30am with the powerful early morning sun on my face. With some rain predicted for later in the week I had pitched up with my Trakker Armo bivvy, but had the front open in shelter-style.

Bivvied up for five nights
Bivvied up for five nights

I’m a great believer that even though the odds may be against you, as long as your bait is in the water you have a chance. And that theory was proved correct when, in the middle of the day and in bright sunshine, one of my alarms burst into song. Just a few notes at first, then a continual scream. Bringing the fish to the bank I knew it was a good tench, the only question was, how good?

Well, you can see the fish in the photo and while not a monster as such, for a male tench, it’s pretty decent. Enjoying the sunshine, I took a few photos, released the fish, re-cast and settled back to continue the waiting game. This venue certainly requires patience; if I get one fish per 24 hour session I’m happy.

Off the mark with a good male
Off the mark with a good male

All the other anglers in the syndicate fish for carp and they’re even more elusive. It’s not an easy water. Some might get one fish per year, others maybe a few more. But if you caught one every ten nights you’d be doing well. So my tench hit-rate in comparison doesn’t sound too bad. And when you consider the size of the fish I catch, I’m more than happy to sit it out.

Balls of bait ready to go
Balls of bait ready to go

Night two could have been a good one, instead I stayed on one tench. As darkness fell I had a fish on, but after a few moments I encountered the curse of anglers everywhere, the dreaded hook-pull. I even had another bite of the cherry at 3.30am but this time there was nothing at all on the strike.

Mind you I heard the first bird of the dawn chorus at 3.52am. Surrounded by all manner of warblers and finches, it was the humble blackbird that got us underway. What do I do on a long session? Well on this occasion, at mid-day as I sat with a cup of tea and a Famous Five book, I had another run. It was a very, very good fish but somehow it managed to get snagged.

Second tench of the session
Second tench of the session

I always take lost fish in my stride, just that this one took a few more paces to accept. The good thing though is I know the fish was able to swim free so once it shed the hook it was back to square one. By now, just halfway through the week, I had worked out the heading for the entry. Not that I wanted to dwell on negatives, just stating facts. As I recast I thought to myself, I really need a fish on the bank now.

Little did I know how my wishes would be granted with a double portion of helpings. I was joined in my peg by a pair of mallard that had left the water to enjoy an afternoon snooze in the sun. As I lay there I thought it would be a shame to disturb them if I get a run. That’s exactly what happened though, as at 3.00pm on the dot I was lifting into a tench. After my previous experiences I was just so happy to get it in the net.

The second of the fish that came together
The second of the fish that came together

No sooner was it unhooked and rested while I set my camera up, the other rod went off. Fortunately I use a big, deep landing net, plus I had deep water off the bank, so I was able to net the second while the other was at the bottom. I took the photos, recast, put the kettle on and felt very happy in the knowledge I had gone a long way to burying the earlier disappointments.

It was certainly an afternoon for good fish because at 4.00pm I found myself playing and netting the fourth of the session. The lost fish were becoming distant memories. I also found my marker float rod to be tangled with something, which once I brought it in was the stuff I had lost earlier in the snag. All intact, minus the fish, which was great.

The fourth fish, another afternoon one
The fourth fish, another afternoon one

On this occasion I was writing my Angling Journal entry as I went along. I do them on my BlackBerry and then email them to my laptop to have the photos inserted, tidied up and finally uploaded. As I was now progressing nicely on the word front, plus I’d already had a few fish I decided to split the session into two entries.

I am right up to date at the moment anyway and I do like the freedom of a week to play with, so it worked out fine. So if you want to find out how I get on in the remaining three nights then check out next week’s entry. Hopefully I’ll be amongst some bigger fish. But as I’m writing this bank-side and ‘live’ even I don’t know at this moment in time.

White dead-nettle in full bloom
White dead-nettle in full bloom

The natural world is now coming along nicely, it’s hard to think that just a few weeks ago we were still in the grip of wintry conditions. Around my bivvy I had lots of white dead-nettle in bloom. Unlike their more common namesake, these have no sting, hence their name. Amongst the numerous birds the highlights were a pair of oystercatcher and a singing skylark.

If you like my blog entries, why not share them on social media? The links are below. I know that many people do each week by the numbers count, I just don’t know who they are that’s all. So if that’s you, thanks! It’s always nice to feel that someone appreciates what you do enough to share it with others. (Published May 18 2013)