May 26, 2020


It's been so long since I had a morning tench fishing. There's just not that many tench waters around here and as my mind spends longer thinking about carp the lovely tench get's lost in the rush for a thirty pounder. But a stocking several years ago has begun to prove fruitful. The little pool was home to some plump roach and perch but they have been brushed aside by age or predation and the fingerling tench are coming on well. Time to try it out.

Apparently these fish are right out of Mr Crabtree's folklore in that they feed very early in the day then switch off and disappear. I didn't fancy a mega-early rise so took the softer option. I gained an hour in bed by bivvying up next to the lake overnight so I could enjoy a lie-in till about 4.45 am. The night was warm, the owls loud and, what I presume to be a juvenile owl left in a tree nearby, whined about it all night.

Cane decided that the first bird song was breakfast time. He was a little put out by the reply and settled for another hour or so until my phone ruined a perfectly good dream. I was quickly out of bed and scanning the baited swim for activity. There wasn't so much as a single bubble.

A coffee had me up and about and a single grain of corn sat below a very old and favoured float. I'd given it a coat of varnish yesterday as so much paint is missing. I sat and gazed at the little red point in the water - absorbed, content and eager.

At last, a slight bob and the rod is trembling in my hand awaiting the next movement. It came in the form of a slight lift and I struck into a solid weight. However, it immediately yielded and I was into the gnarliest male bream ever. It was adorned with spawning tubercles over its entire body and felt like a slice of concrete. However, it was a blank saving fish and was lovingly slipped back.

Soon after - another bite and I am connected to a feisty little fish that, as it rose in the water, looked as if it was made of coal. In came the darkest tench I have ever seen, small but beautifully marked. This was followed by another dark fish with slightly more green on her flanks. I thought it was going to be a busy morning however, despite seeing some bubbles here and there including some that looked very Crucian-like, I didn't get so much as a twitch.

The moment had passed and that 'dead' feeling came over the water. I mused myself by feeding the female Mandarine duck and her four chicks. They were very nervous of me yesterday evening but  now they were content to take seeded bread and corn.

I popped over to the carp lake and had a wander. I found a few fish milling about and the tiger nuts I threw into a corner were soon being truffled up by a carp. But, by the time I had eaten my breakfast, sorted some gear and wandered to a suitable ambush point, the mood on here also changed. The only fish I saw were now basking in thick weed and I got the distinct feeling that they were having a post spawn rest.

I decided they deserved their day in the sun and will return in a week or so - hopefully after some rain.

May 17, 2020

Scraping Off The Rust

I stopped along the track and attacked a few fallen branches with my saw. Path cleared I reached my spot and quietly got out of my car and breathed the fresh, cool air absorbing the vista of greens and blue all enveloped in a myriad of bird song.  I was back.

I'd walked the lake the other day and had spotted a number of fish so I approached today with a plan or two up my sleeve. I decided to forgo the temptation of an overnighter and just reacquaint myself with my dusty tackle, tackle that had lay idle for six months.

I baited a couple of spots with a few boilies and a handful of pellets. There was muddied water on the shallows where feeding had and was taking place - confidence was high.

Fortunately I'd come with reels already loaded with good line and rig tubing already threaded, unusually for me I'd even tied a few rigs. Why is it that whenever I look at my pre-tied rigs they never seem attractive? But I found one that was just about passable and headed off for the distant swim.

One hundred yards away from the car I dropped the gear and returned for a some leads - I knew I'd forget something - and saw a fish bosh out over the first baited spot. 'You be patient', I mused, 'I'll get to you later.'

Swim one is a favourite stalking spot. I've previously had them from just a yard or so off the bank but as most of the feeding was on the opposite bank, I  decided to fish a little further out on a patrol route. In went a pva bag of crushed boilies and a few pellets, the ever effective wafter on the hair. A few freebies scattered about and it was time to sit back.

The breeze picked at the line and gave me a few bleeps but a heavier stick as a makeshift bobbin sorted it all out. Ten minutes later there was something truffling near my bait.

Alas that excitement abated and the water cleared. I knew I was still in with a chance but the head gremlins started questioning if my bait was visible or stuck in some weed, or missing.....? you know the score, always questions. I was almost ready to concede and recast for another half hour.  I'd only been fishing for thirty minutes or so but wanted to get to the other swim for what is usually a productive period of the day.

My doubts dissolved as the water again muddied around my feed, it was apparent that several fish were greedily competing around my bait. Despite being poised and in the starting blocks, the inevitable bite still took me by surprise such was the speed of the taking fish. I saw it's grey back belting off to the left and the stick on the line flying off to the right. I bent into it as it raced past a large, snaggy branch protruding from the water.

I was able to turn the fish and saw it, a nice mirror, dark and chunky, as it rolled on the surface. It came obediently toward me but the wrong side of that snag, all went solid. I slackened the line and waited, watched and pondered. Had the fish still been there I would surely have seen movement in the shallow water but no, it had done me. I heaved the branch some way toward the bank before the line parted. Ah well, plan A bust, on to plan B

I flicked two rods out in my second swim, sat back and fully expected some action. I discovered just how long my abstinence had been when I had a head scratch moment wondering how to turn an alarm on. Err, that big silver switch may have something to do with it - numpty.

By now my lad was fishing elsewhere on the lake but all was quiet. I looked in a few regular holding areas and nothing was on show. The desire to land a fish seemed somehow unimportant, I wasn't even annoyed when I lost the one earlier, just a little irked that it had taken off left as opposed to straight out which is the norm. No, this was a day for being there, re-grounding the soul, enjoying freedom and a change of scenery in this most difficult and trying time. The horrors of deadly virus seemed a million miles away - but I wore gloves whilst opening the gates - crazy times.

The lake stopped talking to me, I felt my efforts had run their course and decided to leave it for next time. This left Neil to the peace and quiet of an idyllic world. He had the lake to himself for the time being and, having endured lockdown with kids and home schooling, his agenda was peace and quiet first, fish second.

I shall return soon and maybe I'll get a fish. Do you know what? I really don't mind if I have a few blanks, just being there was enough.