I hadn't had the time or opportunity to go fishing for far too long! I didn't really have the time this weekend either but I needed my fix. For days I've been feeling unwell, 'sinusitis' isn't very nice, headaches and congestion, keeps me up at night. Somehow I managed to drag myself out of bed and down to the Marsh for an early morning after the Tench.
I arrived with mist still rising from a lake bathed in weak morning sunlight. A Green Woodpecker laughed as it flew across the water, was it trying to tell me something? For once there was just one other angler at the lake, this would have been normal twelve months ago but alas no more. I settled in a swim on the Northern bank with the southerly wind in my face. To my left is a large reed bed, I cast a method feeder baited with a pop up boilie in front of this and on a second rod another pop up with a PVA bag of pellets close by, at the bottom of the marginal shelf. The plan was to leave the pop up in place but recast the method feeder every now and then, depending on how things went. On a third rod I float fished sweetcorn beside a bed of lily pads close by. This area was baited with a few free offerings of corn plus a couple of handfuls of mixed pellets every now and then.
It was a beautiful morning, sunny with a comfortable temperature and a nice breeze in my face. The Marsh is now in the full green of summer, trees, reeds and lilies, dotted with yellow flowers just opening. I'd deliberately avoided putting out large quantities of groundbait, just little piles of feed that could be topped up as and when, if feeding fish should happen to wander through the swim. Unfortunately I didn't get through too much bait today, just a couple of half hearted pulls and the occasional momentary dip of the float. I'm still struggling to get my head around the Tench's habits in this water, more so this season than last. Twelve months ago, even if I wasn't catching I'd often see tell tail signs, fish rolling or bubbling, not so this year.
I keep hearing the same thing from other anglers on the lake; “Tench fishing is slow this year...” and apparently this season it's worse than ever. I also keep hearing anglers complaining about the number of Otters around these days, maybe the two topics are linked? I saw an Otter at the Marsh a year ago but I've never seen any evidence of wide scale fish kills. I haven't known the water long enough to make comparisons to years gone by however. Last week there was a report on local TV news about habitat improvements designed to make life easier for otters in the Fenlands. Hot on the heels of this followed calls by anglers, (TV 'star' John Wilson included), for action on the 'Otter problem'.
A decade ago it was the Cormorant that was getting the blame for all the ills in angling, in many cases this was for good reason too. Nowadays anglers like to point the finger at immigrant anglers fishing for food and most recently the Otter. We do like to have a ready made excuse for poor fishing but in all cases there is an element of truth. What we need is real evidence as to just how bad the perceived problem is in reality but this type of information will always be difficult to collate.
On balance I think there could well be an 'Otter problem' but calls for a cull are misguided. We'll never win over the opinions of the non angling majority if we start shooting at anything with fur and a face (except perhaps Bill Oddie). Maybe for a few years angling will have to take the hit and face the pain of 'Otter damage' but surely nature will find a balance eventually and Otter numbers will even out? Some fisheries will be forced to erect fences to keep the otters out, this may be expensive but must be seen as an investment. As things stand now, for my liking there are too many Otters about on the waters I fish, I'd like to see their numbers reduced but there's nothing I can do about it. Is the reason I can't catch those bloody Tench? Who knows? It's a bloody good excuse though!
Time passed too quickly, the other angler fishing was already packing up and I hadn't seen him catch anything. I kept looking at my watch, hoping time would slow down but it had the opposite effect. All of a sudden the alarm was sounding and a bobbin was jumping, something was making off with the boilie on the method feeder. I wound down to no resistance but there was something on the end...surely not? Yes, another bloody Roach! Another anti climax, I couldn't help but laugh!
The river season starts in an hour or two but right at this moment I have no plans to fish moving water. I have a bit more free time coming up so will stubbornly continue to pursue those elusive Tench for a week or two.