Monday, 11 April 2011


We've had 3 days of clear skies, sunny hot weather, with temperatures in the high teens, even surpassing 20*C at times. It's unseasonably warm at the moment but before we know it we'll get some more normal wet grotty April weather . There's no doubt that this weather will get the Tench and Carp moving so I was keen to get out and at 'em, The only potential problem was preparation, would I have time to swap my Pike set ups for Tench rigs? In the end I did but only just. On Thursday night I bunged a load of gear in the car then I tackled up two rods and some rigs.

Work dragged and I couldn't get off until 1800 so the early evening was a mad rush. I called in at home quickly, put the bait in the car, wolfed down a pizza then head off to 'The Marsh' for the first time this year. For once there were a few other anglers about and it was highly unusual to see the swims that were occupied all involved a walk. The car park area was free, OK car park it is then.

I had a plan, I baited up with the seed mix, making a line of about 10 metres at right angles to the bank. The idea behind this was that any fish moving through the swim would have to encounter this line of bait. This was not my idea, I read it in Rod Hutchinson's “Carp strikes back” nearly thirty years ago. Hookbait was a good quality 10mm boilies + fake corn fished on regular hair rigs – Coretex hooklengths on heli rigs, with hemp in PVA bags. One bait was fished close to a reed bed in the margins the other was cast to the end of the 'line' of bait.

With two rods out and the swim baited and light fading fast I turned my attention to my camp for the night. I erected my cheap & cheerful bivvy, organised my kit then set up my brand new bed-chair. Believe it or not this is the first proper fishing bed-chair that I have ever owned. I've always made do with makeshift crappy stuff and just got by. I've been night fishing for over thirty years but never before in such luxury.

With everything organised I settled back for a much needed chill out session. The Marsh is a hard water but I was confident that my approach of using the seed mix and a good quality boilie would put me in with a good chance should any fish visit my swim. Now it was simply a case of relaxing and hoping the Tench agreed with me. By now it was dark, bats streaked through the air above me and the sky was decorated by a crescent moon and a sprinkling of stars. Nothing much happened throughout the evening, well to be precise, nothing at all happened. I decided to get into my kip bag for an early night. My most recent experience of night fishing had been in the boat, tonight I would experience unprecedented levels of comfort!

Despite the opulence of my accommodation I didn't sleep particularly well. Sadly I wasn't disturbed by any fish, only a few bleeps on the rods during the dark hours. I awoke at 0510 and rebaited both rods then topped up the line of seed mix before getting back in the bag. I was happy to find that after 9 hours on the silty lake bed the boilies still smelled good. I still felt confident that should any fish visit my swim in the dawn period then my methods would do the job. Once more I settled down to slumber.

Awake again at 1000, this time I was disappointed that nothing had happened in the period of the day that I expected to be the most productive. I got up and decided to switch methods on one rod. I rigged up a small method feeder with a short hooklength and a popped up boilie. This recast regularly, plopping it into different parts of the swim, mostly around some emerging lily pads. The other rod was kept the same and once more I topped up the line of seed mix. This was the beginning of another lovely sunny day. A bit of ripple from a North Easterly wind rippled my swim. By and large the 'marsh' was still wearing its winter clothes; brown reeds and skeletal trees but the signs of spring are there. Buds in the bushes and emerging greenery all around, spring is definitely well under way.

At 1130 I was concentrating on frying breakfast when the bobbin on the close range rod climbed quickly to the rod. I was hovering, waiting for it continue but the line slackened and the bobbin slowly fell back. A liner? A few minutes later I had a repeat performance on the same rod, would it keep going?....sadly not. Previous experience on this water has seen ream as the culprits. I left it for fifteen minutes then recast.

By midday I was beaten. I slowly tidied up, leaving the rods till last as usual. A blank session to start my spring season on the 'Marsh'. I had plenty of these last year, hopefully I've learnt enough to put things right this year. Those big Tench are out there.

Two days later I was back at the Marsh again, this time in the company of my son Isaac. A few weeks ago I'd acquired a Pike rod for him, his very first rod of his own and today was the first time he'd actually used it. The weather was warm, bright and sunny with a temperature topping out at 20*C in the early afternoon. I know the Piking police would have me crucified for fishing in this kind of weather and nowadays I do very little warm weather Pike fishing but this was different. I was taking my son fishing and I don't give a rats arse what anybody else thinks!

There was no early start, it was a leisurely 0930 before we arrived and settled into a nice roomy swim with the fresh westerly wind blowing into our face. First job was to rig Isaac's rod up with a Mackerel fished on a float leger rig. Second job was to teach him the mechanics of casting a fixed spool reel. All his Pike fishing to date has been done with lures trolled from a boat or when he was really young I'd do the casting for him. All the other fishing he has done has been with a whip so today, aged 8 ¾ he learnt to cast and I'm delighted to say he learnt quickly.

Once he was settled I put out a couple of Tench rods. A balanced boilie/fake corn was fished with a PVA bag full of hemp and cast along side a reedbed to my left. To the right I fished another boilie on a method feeder cast towards a snaggy area. This left the middle of the swim wide open for Isaac to practice casting! The feeder rod was recast every half hour or so but the left hand rod was pretty much left alone. I also rigged up a waggler rod fishing corn and shared this with Isaac.

To cut a long story short we didn't manage to christen Isaac's new rod with a Pike, in fact the fishing was slow all round. I had a couple of short pulls on the method feeder but that was it as far as the Tench rods went. Even the waggler rod was slow but in the last hour we did manage to catch a few Rudd each, one of which went on the Pike rod but to no avail. We did enjoy a large fry up and just after noon and after filling up with sausage sandwiches we packed up in the early afternoon. Another slow session from a fishing point of view but time spent with my son is priceless.

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