Sunday rolled around and I had time to fish but the forecast was rotten; wet and windy through the morning which made me decide to wait till it had blown over before setting off. I tend to think these are pretty good fishing conditions but I couldn’t drag myself out of a warm bed to set up in the wet. No drama, there’s a test match going on which will absorb me through the first part of the day. Things don’t go to plan; the weather takes longer than expected to shift, it’s a struggle for England in the cricket and other distractions have my mind scrambled. I need my fix of fishing now more than ever.
I eventually arrived at the lake in the late afternoon to find I had the place to myself. After a quick recce I set up in a swim I’d never fished before. I’d chickened out and had the wind on my back, would I live to regret it? The swim looked nice with lilies on both sides and a quick plumb around revealed about five feet of water. By 1600 I was fishing with two rods; a feeder drooped alongside lilies about ten yards away on the right and a float rig fished close to the pads on the left. Groundbait was the Expo mix again and on the hooks I fished sweetcorn as I didn’t want too much bother from small fish.
There was still a bit of drizzle in the wind so I had to break out the oval brolly for only the second time since I’ve had it. The rain soon fizzled out but I was glad of the shelter from the still fresh wind. I’d packed the radio and my mind was absorbed in the cricket so time passed quickly but there was no sign of any fishy activity. I was beginning to wish I’d brought some maggots to save the blank at least. I kept dropping the feeder on the spot every half hour or so and fed a small ball of groundbait with every cast on the float rod. Float fishing should be a delicate business with light, carefully balanced tackle but my set up bears little resemblance to this. I use an eleven foot pellet waggler rod sold by Middy. A small Shimano reel with 8lbs line straight through to a large size 16 Matrix feeder rigger hook. Float is usually some sort of waggler, locked with float rubbers. Random bunches of shot below it with a no. 6 about 9” from the hook. Nothing subtle about any of that but there is no point hooking a fish and losing it in the weed.
Around 1800 a large Tench rolled out in open water so I repositioned the feeder for a while but I began to see signs of a fish in the areas I’d baited. I was in two minds; do I stick to my original plan or fish where the Tench had rolled? An old friend wandered round for a chat and he advised me to stick to plan A. As the light began to fade so the pads began to shake as fish of some sort moved through them. Twice the float sailed away and both times I struck thin air, it was turning into one of those days.
At 2130 the float sailed away and this time the rod hooped over. For some reason I had the anti reverse on and as the fish powered off I quickly fumbled to release it and give some line. For a moment I’d been sure I was about to lose it due to this feck up, imagine that after all those hours of nothing! It’s just as well these rods bend through to the butt. Luckily the fish powered off into open water away from the lilies and I was happy to let it tire itself out there. There are a few Carp in this lake and I hoped I wasn’t attached to one, something large and green rolled in front of me! It tried its hardest to bury into the lilies and the Norfolk reed to my left but I managed to bundle a nice sized Tench into the net!
The hook was stuck well into the bottom lip and took some budging, it would not have come loose during the fight but you never know that at the time. It was a male fish and the scales revealed a pleasing weight, from memory I’ve only ever caught one male bigger than that. There were scars on one flank which I suspect were caused by a close encounter with my least favourite mammal… Bloody hell I’ve actually caught a Tench!! I fished on for a while but the fading light meant my eyes played tricks on me, I kept feeling sure the float was moving but it never was I packed away with just the one fish under my belt but it was my first Tench of the season and the first from a new water. I’d like to think that this is the first of many and I will soon lose my status as the world’s least successful Tench angler or are the odds on an England test match win better?