The early morning start went out of the window and I woke up feeling distinctly rough so pottered about the house, slowly getting things ready before setting off for the lake around midday. What little wind there was came from the north west so I parked at the far end and went for a wander around the windward part of the water. A Woodpecker passed in it's dipping flight, it's light green plumage and red crest dazzling in the summer sunlight. Here there are two swims and both looked good. The second one was the one I'd fished last week, here a Carp bow waved and the surface seemed alive with Rudd. With nothing else to go on I decided to settle in here for a 24 hour session.
It took two journeys to hump all my gear from the car to the swim, by which time I was sweating and breathless. I was in no hurry to start fishing and began by having a careful plumb around the swim. Beneath the rod tips there was eighteen inches of water which gradually sloped down to eight feet beneath the overhanging trees about fifty feet out. Next I put a bit of bait out. Five cricket ball sized lumps of groundbait, laced with goodies, chucked to the overhanging tree on the right. This was topped up with about 25 free offerings – 10mm boilies. This brought a group of ducks scuttling over and made baiting up the tree to the left difficult. Here I intended to lay a carpet of seed mix but the ducks were intent on intercepting as much as possible. I quickly learnt that ducks don't like spods and after blasting them with the aforementioned article a few times they buggered off, allowing me to bait up by hand.
Next I set up two boilie rods. On the left I fished a 10mm boilie balanced with a piece of fake corn and a PVA bag full of pellets attached. On the right I replicated what had caught the Carp the previous week thinking; 'if it works for carp it'll work for Tench'. This was a chod rig and pop up boilie, once again I attached a PVA bag full of pellets and chopped boilies. On both rods I used watch leads so I could mould on a bit of groundbait if the PVA became fiddly in the night. I also set up a float rod to fish beside a small bed of lilies in front of me. I didn't use this straight away as I knew the Rudd would make life difficult and I also had a bivvy etc. to set up so wouldn't be able to give it my full attention. I realised that having baited up with a spod, I'd cast out a chod then rested my rod on a pod. How odd? Oh God! Stop!!!!! Who comes up with these names? BTW Yes I have a pod, it's cheap cheerful and just the job for the few occasions each year that I need to use it. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
I slowly got my camp organised and tuned the radio in to listen to the cricket. I whiled away the afternoon dozing in the sun and listening to the radio. England lost the match but had already won the series, any win against the Aussies is something to celebrate. There were occasional patches of bubbles appearing in the swim mostly over the right hand rod. I also had the odd bleep and tap on the rod tip, mostly on the left hand rod. As the sun began to sink in the sky I began fishing with the float rod but as expected the Rudd, trying in vain to eat the fake corn made things difficult at first.
At around 8.30 pm, having topped up the groundbait on both boilie rods; a load more seed mix to the left and five more big balls of groundbait on the right. This brought the ducks back, bloody things. I imagined them in a Chinese pan cake with some of that sweet Hoisin sauce .... I put fresh boilies on both rods with another PVA bag on the left hand rod and groundbait moulded around the lead on the right. I settled back and cooked my usual fishing fayre of sausage and bacon sandwiches and enjoyed watching the sun set. The surface was alive with Rudd and every now and then they would scatter as a feeding Pike smashed into them spectacularly. I had an urge to put a livebait out but no, that can wait...
At 10pm I could still clearly see the float and the first bats of the night were swooping low. The Rudd were still topping but the Pike were fed and settled. The bird song slowly diminished and the drone of distant traffic could now be heard. At 10.25 bubbles began to appear over the left hand rod. It had gotten too dark for the float now so I wound it in. A few minutes later I had a twitchy pull on the left hand rod signalled by five or six bleeps on the alarm. Ten minutes later I had a repeat and struck thin air. I was sure this was take and not a liner as I was using back leads to pin everything down. At around 11pm I tried to settle down in the bivvy for a bit of shut eye but the pulls on the left hand rod continued. Eventually I tightened the line up and fished the bobbin right up close to the rod. I figured the fish I was after would hook themselves and give me a positive bite which would rouse me from the bivvy. I suspected Rudd were responsible for these little pulls and taps and just wasn't interested. This prevented any further disturbance and I was able to get some rest for a while.
The dark hours passed uneventfully, except for the odd bleep on the alarms which shocked me awake and had me bolt upright, heart pounding. Then I would gradually regain my comfortable resting position and resume dozing. However at 3.15am, with the hint of a new dawn in the sky. Incessant bleeping on the left hand rod roused me again and I staggered out of the bivvy. I gradually woke up finding myself attached to a fish with a bit of weight but no real fighting power. I soon dragged it into the net but wasn't sure what I'd caught. I suspected a Bream but it could be a monster Rudd?? It was a Bream. This was interesting, my first of the species from the water and the first I'd heard of. I'd assumed there weren't any in here but I was obviously wrong, another vital link in the food chain, interesting. This Bream was not particularly huge but had it been daylight I'd have weighed it. However it was dark, I was tired and I couldn't be arsed. The Bream was returned, the rod re-baited and recast then I returned to the bivvy and to slumber.
At 5.30 am I was up again. I re-baited both rods and topped up both spots with a bit more groundbait. I tried to get the float rod out again but was thwarted by a duck swimming into the line and then deciding to take flight. The duck was unharmed but my float ended up in a tree. Having retrieved this situation and tackling up again a tree got in the way of my cast and I had to do it all again. Eventually I got everything sorted. This morning seemed quiet, there were fewer Rudd around and although I caught a couple on the float rod they weren't the pain that they can be. There was very little bubbling today either, as much as this phenomenon can be frustrating it kind of gives me confidence that fish are around at least. Around 7am I was contemplating another hours shut eye when a load of fizz around the right hand rod caught my attention. Nothing happened so fifteen minutes later I wound the float rod in, turned up the alarms and crashed out in the bivvy once more.
By mid morning I was awake again but had had enough. I slowly packed up and lugged the gear back to the car. The trip had been disappointing from the fishing point of view but my mind really needed to switch off and to lose myself by the waterside had been wonderful. I felt both relaxed and refreshed. It's high summer now so I don't know how much time I'll be able to spend at 'The Marsh' over the next few weeks, probably not as much as I'd like. I suppose I've done nothing to lose my crown as the “world's worst Tench angler” but at least I've caught one. From what I've heard this must be one of the smaller Tench in the lake but still a big fish to me. All together I've caught seven different species from the Marsh and more importantly thoroughly enjoyed myself fishing this little tranquil oasis set amidst a world of madness. I have other priorities for now but I'll be back!