It’s that fine line again (Tench, entry 515)

The decision to split my five-night tench session into two blog entries about half-way in coincided with a change in conditions. The bright sunshine and dry weather of the first half was replaced by a cooler, wetter and extremely breezier second period. And that was why I had set up in my bivvy, as opposed to a shelter, which I normally use during the warmer months.


As far as the fishing itself was concerned though everything was as last week’s entry. And I got off to a good start when I had a dusk fish as darkness descended on night one (or three depending on how you see it!). You can tell it’s cooler because I’m wearing a hat and a fleece as opposed to just a tee-shirt from the previous days.

Early morning on the gravel pit
Early morning on the gravel pit


Hopeful for the rest of the night, the only action I had was from a rat that kept getting too close for comfort. I’m sure if you’re a dedicated night angler, like I am, you’ve got plenty of rodent tales to tell; I know I have. It was on this gravel pit a few years back I woke up to find one on the pillow next to my face! A few seconds later I may have been dreaming I was being nibbled by a rat. Except it wouldn’t have been a dream!

Off the mark with a dusk tench
Off the mark with a dusk tench


The next day the wind picked up to problem levels, making fishing at range extremely difficult. Even on the bank I was up against it, with everything from my pod blowing over to the landing net deciding to go for a swim of its own. The gravel pit is a big venue and as the wind increased the waves had white tops. I had just finished one Famous Five book (session reading material) and started another. I felt like I was on Kirrin Island!


You can see my rig in the photo below. My mainline was 12lb Ultima. I do usually go for 10lb maximum but as my reels were freshly spooled after carp fishing I kept them. Hooklength was Drennan Double Strength 15lb, which is the highest I’ve ever gone on this venue. With lots of abrasion on the gravel I’m not afraid to use what to many might seem over the top tackle. Remember, this isn’t a nice genteel estate lake. Fishing over bars and humps takes its toll.

Constant blue lights due to the wind
Constant blue lights due to the wind


The lead is 1.5oz and fixed with a Drennan stop, which soon gives way in the unlikely event of a break. The system over the swivel is a Greys top and tail rubber, which since I started using them last year, I’ve become a fan. Hook is a size 7 Big T Raptor and a shot gently pinched on the line anchored the 6″ hooklength as the 3x corn-shaped boilies towered above it.


On the subject of tackle in general and line strengths and hook sizes in particular, many anglers tend to think in terms of low they can go in terms of finesse. My thinking is the opposite – what’s the highest/biggest I can get away with. Anyway as the night drew in I was just thankful that the severe winds had died down. The torrential rain I can live with, that doesn’t affect the actual fishing. So although still breezy it was just nice to be able to fish properly.

The gravel pit tench rig
The gravel pit tench rig


Although the occasional severe gust came from nowhere, in the main it was a very quiet night, certainly as far as the fishing was concerned. I had the rat out and about again though. I would make a noise, it would run off, and then a minute later it would be back. In the end I gave up and just left him to it! As morning broke on my final day I recast and put just a few balls of bait out.


This isn’t an easy venue and whilst I don’t catch many, the ones I do are of a good size. It might not be to everyone’s taste, doing long sessions for just the odd fish, but I’m more than happy to put the time in. That’s the great thing about angling, it can be to each of us whatever we want it to be. Far too many anglers have a judgemental spirit and they criticise others basically because it’s not their style of fishing that’s all.

A peep at the venue
A peep at the venue


On the subject of other anglers, there is one question I am continually asked and that is ‘Where were you fishing?’. Occasionally I will reveal exact location and mention details, as in the case of Kinver Freeliners, where there has been prior agreement. But normally, other than general stuff, no specifics are revealed. There are three reasons for this.


First, many waters I fish have a ‘no publicity’ rule anyway. Second, I feel a certain responsibility to the other regular anglers on the venue. I get five-figure views every month so if only a tiny percentage turned up it could crowd a small place. It’s not fair on the anglers who are already there. Third, self-preservation! It’s not selfish to protect for yourself either. Especially if you catch a few nice fish there will be those who want the swim details.

Bedding down for the final night
Bedding down for the final night


The final day was quiet, with the only recasting due to the weed around the line. The previous days storm had obviously stirred up the bottom, and even though I was using backleads, it was impossible not to be affected. With loose weed drifting, inevitably some would get caught on my tackle. But as I made my last late evening cast I was hopeful, as I always am, that I would get a fish.

My friend the mallard duck
My friend the mallard duck


During the course of the session I had become quite friendly with a mallard, motivated I must say on her part by the food freebies I would throw. This started on the water, progressed to the area round my pod. Then she got confident enough to spend time outside my bivvy before finally coming inside. Given a few more days I’m sure I would have got her roosting on my sleeping bag with me!

The final session itself was quiet, in fact I dozed off at dark and woke up with the sun. No fish, but I did hear my first cuckoo of the year, as well as watch five early morning common terns as they fed over the quiet pit. Just the one fish to record in this week’s entry, as I often report. And as I often say, it’s that fine line between ‘success’ and ‘failure’. It’s always nice to be just the right side of it as well. (Published May 25 2013)

Check out my angling website HERE