The weekend arrived and the kids were having a sleep over at their grandmothers house giving me an all too rare opportunity to spend a night fishing the Marsh. I spent Saturday afternoon getting stuff ready; bait, gear, food, drink... and it was early evening before Shelley and I arrived at the lake. Unfortunately there were several Carp anglers already fishing and all of the swims I'd had in mind were occupied. I had a quick chat and learned that very little had been caught of late, Carp or Tench. Either that or they're all playing their cards close. I was forced to fish the same spot where I'd spent my first trip to the lake a fortnight previously. Add to that another cool forecast with a northerly wind and I wasn't confident, not at all. In fact I was almost resigned to the fact that I wouldn't catch. That didn't matter however, I needed the break from routine, I needed the fresh air & countryside and I needed to be fishing!
After lugging the gear round it was time to get everything ready for the night. I daren't set Shelley up with the whip too soon as that would invariably mean I would be constantly unhooking fish and wouldn't be able to set anything else up. I quickly tackled up my own two rods; an open ended feeder/bolt rig, baited with maggots both fake and real was swung beneath an overhanging tree. Groundbait was a green concoction made by 'Lake Wizard' to which I'd added crushed Hemp, maggots and corn. I also chucked a few balls of groundbait in a line at right angles to the bank. This line ended at the bottom of the marginal slope and it was here that my second bait was placed. A chod rig baited with a popped up strawberry boilie and a PVA bag of mixed pellets was dropped into position. My line of groundbait (incidentally a Rod Hutchinson idea from “The Carp strikes back” published in the mid eighties) was topped up with about a kilo of mixed pellets and I was fishing.
Looks the part
I couldn't avoid setting the whip up any longer and before very long Shelley was happily hoisting in a procession of Rudd. These were swung right into my chops to be unhooked and returned while Shelley giggled. In between I managed to set the bivvy up and get everything sorted out for the night. At one point Shelley dropped a Rudd back in the water while she waited for me to unhook it, only to jump and shriek as a Pike nailed it to save me the job. Shelley gave up fishing when it became difficult to see the float, I recast and re-baited both rods around 10pm then sat back in my chair with a glass of wine. As it grew dark the sky came alive with bats, I can't ever remember seeing so many whizzing through the air. They seemed to head straight for us then veer away at the last second. Nature is pretty mind blowing at times. The temperature fell quickly and all too soon the only comfortable place to be was tucked up in the bivvy.
For over twenty years the only night fishing I have done have been in the flat, largely tree-less landscape of the Fenlands. I cannot remember the last time, or indeed if I've ever fished a lake in a wood before. Therefore the volume of the dawn chorus came as a bit of a surprise to me! Here the trees are very thick, very tall and very old. A perfect habitat for a variety of songbirds and wildfowl all of which gave a high volume performance which roused me at around 4:30 am. I staggered out of the bivvy, answered the call then recast and rebaited both rods and topped up the groundbait after a fishless night. A mist hung above the water as the sun brightened making a beautiful scene before me. However there were no Tench rolling and no signs of life in front of me so I decided to retire to the bivvy once more and rest my eyes a little longer.
By 7am the sun shone brightly and I was up and at 'em once again. I'd had a couple of liners during the dawn period, one on each rod, but no proper takes. Fresh baits again, kettle on then I sat back with a brew and tried to wake up. I looked around the lake and noticed all the Carpers seemed to be packing up. I sneaked a few Rudd out on the whip and caught a couple more, slightly bigger ones on the feeder rod but despite the occasional patch of bubbles the Tench weren't playing. It's disconcerting as I'm sure fish are responsible for the fizz but they never seem to hang around my baited areas for long. Soon Shelley woke up, we enjoyed breakfast and the early morning sun before starting to slowly tidy away the gear. While doing so I had a proper take on the feeder rod at long last. I dropped what I was doing and for the first time this spring I bent into a fish that pulled back. Surely this was my first Tench of the year?.............It's very rare that I'm disappointed to see a Pike on the end of my line but...I could see a nice sized Rudd in the fishes' mouth and when this was shaken out somehow my hook remained attached to the Pike. I was determined to land the bloody thing and duly christened my new landing net (courtesy of DLST, see link at the side) despite it biting off the feeder link and eventually trashing the hooklength as I unhooked it. Although it was vividly marked the Pike was a tatty looking specimen of about two pounds that looked like it had strayed too close to a big sister at spawning time.
And that was that. Another trip passed, relaxing in lovely surroundings but I still hadn't banked a Tench. My title of 'the worlds worst Tench angler' remains intact but fishing really IS great and it's only a matter of time............