Mixed Fortunes

27/28th April
I was back on the tench trail. A good friend runs a carp syndicate which I intend to give some serious attention as it has produced some really stunning scaly mirrors to high thirties. For this session, though, I was scratching an itch I’ve had for some time in trying for the water’s very elusive and apparently modest tench population. The reason for my interest is the fact that among the handful of good tench that have fallen accidentally to carp anglers’ boilies is one fish last season that weighed in not far short of eleven pounds. That is a giant fish from anywhere.

I went armed with traditional tench fare, four pints of casters, two pints of live red maggots, a gallon of deads, mini halibut pellets, sweetcorn and a bucket of hemp. In discussion with the regulars, it seemed that those tench that had been caught had all come from a very small area at the far end of the pit from the car park, where a shallow area of about five feet runs out some forty yards before dropping sharply into twelve feet of water. Everywhere else on the pit sees over ten feet of water within a rod length of the bank.

What I hadn’t appreciated was the distance to the far end of the water with a loaded barrow which, despite all my manoeuvrings, required two trips to transport the gear for a comfortable two day stay. By the time I had the swim sorted I was well and truly knackered. I’m 67 now and realised at that moment that tench fishing at this particular water would probably not be a long term affair, not with traditional volumes of bait anyway. It will be worth tackling with small boilies in the future so there is far less weight to carry.

In the event, the area I was intending to fish was occupied by two carp anglers, so I had to move even further round the bay and eventually settled on an area with 9ft of water ten yards out, gradually falling away to twelve feet at forty yards. With no other features apparent, I opted to fish at thirty yards in 10ft, and proceeded to introduce eight Spombs of mixed goodies into three areas. The intention was to top up with two or three more over each rod every few hours. That done, three rods were cast into position, all three being feeder rigs using Kamasan Black Caps. One carried two hair rigged Enterprise buoyant rubber red maggots to a size 12, the second hair rigged buoyant rubber casters and the third a true bottom bait of two natural maggots directly on a size 14.

There is really not a lot to say. Despite diligently recasting my feeders at least every hour and regularly refreshing the swim with bait, I never had a fish in nearly 40 hours of fishing. The only action I saw was a heavy roll over the feed just as the light was fading and a slow lift of a couple of inches on the left hand rod at dawn, which never developed into anything strikable. All in all it was a highly disappointing session and by the time I’d sweated blood again getting the gear back to the van I’d mentally crossed the water off my list as one warranting attention as a big tench venue! It’s a gorgeous water, but when I go again it will be with carp in mind. If a big tench hangs itself on one of the rods I’ll take it as a welcome bonus.

4/5th May
After the great first carping session at my local water two weeks earlier, I’d decided to return for two more days in the hope of getting a fish nearer to 30lbs. With the water being very local and only available in daylight hours it would also be a nice change not to be sleeping out in a bivvy.

I duly arrived at the official opening hour of 6am and moved into the same swim I’d fished on my first session, from where I could place baits in close proximity to the fringes of an island at about 60yards. The first act was to fire out fifty 14mm baits to each of two areas (there is a two rod rule), which would be topped up with a further 20-30 baits after every fish or missed run. The hookbaits consisted of two 14mm baits on the hair and every cast was accompanied by stringers carrying a further six freebies.

Over the two days, I fished from 6am until the designated leaving time of 9pm and the fishing was simply brilliant. Suffice it to say that I ran out of bait both days. On day one, my final tally was six carp landed, all good doubles with the best a corking common of 18lb 8ozs and I also suffered three hook pulls, which I put down to the barbless hook rule. Day two was even more hectic, with ten carp landed. Again, all the fish bar one were good doubles to 17lbs, the exception being a cracking mirror of 23lb 14ozs. There were also two fast runs missed for no apparent reason.

In my searches for fish to beat my personal bests, which is my usual motivation, the water certainly does not have the potential to beat my current best of 44lb-2oz and therefore is one that will be used only for the occasional fun session. Having said that, the fish all fought like tigers and it was a nice change to be having my string pulled frequently by good carp, rather than consistent blanking in the hope of a superheavyweight from a rock hard water. The new venue will be a great confidence re-builder after tough sessions.

Off to Horseshoe next week. Let’s see if the tench are any kinder down there!