The forecast said it should be the mildest night for a fortnight and I had it all planned, I would be up before light and by the lake by the crack of dawn. The Tench would be sure to succumb to a tempting, wriggling bunch of red maggots, I couldn’t fail… Unfortunately the Purple Princess had car trouble; the exhaust was laying on the drive so my master plan had to change. I would have to drop her at work on the way to the lake and if that wasn’t bad enough I would have to pick her up again afterwards. Not only would I miss the dawn period I wouldn’t be able to fish through dusk either!
By 0845 I was finally fishing with two feeders baited with red maggots and a third rod float fishing corn in the margins. The morning was gloomy but mild with a fresh south westerly wind pushing into the bay. It seemed pretty good conditions for a spring Tench but I absolutely wasn’t feeling it, I had zero confidence and after forty five minutes I’d had a bit of a rethink. The float remained in the shallows with a little groundbait and a handful of corn. One of the feeders was swung out underarm and dropped on top of the shelf with a bit of corn and one red maggot on a strong 16 hook. I hoped these two rods would give me a chance of any Tench having a late breakfast. On the other feeder rod I went all out for Roach and continued to cast about twenty five yards to the bottom of the shelf. On this rod I switched to a short four inch hooklength with three red maggots on a size 18.Hours passed without the slightest sign of a fish but I was content sitting in my little clearing in the woods which was warm and sheltered from the strengthening wind. For company I had the birds; a Robin joined me for a while as did a shy Wren and Blackbirds came and went. Once again the birdsong was constant and at this lake, undisturbed by the drone of traffic. The water was busy with fowl; a pair of Swans guarding a huge nest, squabbling coots, a pair of Shelduck and Grebes who seemed to be catching as little as I was. As for the fishing well I was obviously doing it all wrong but with the gear and bait available today there was little else I could do. It would be a few weeks before I could return and the weather would likely be much warmer then. I began to mull over how I would fish when I could get back to the lake wearing shorts and a tee shirt…
Around 1400 my float slid purposefully away and even more surprisingly, I was actually looking at it at the time. My luck continued as I managed to pick up the rod and set the hook. After a bit of wriggling and splashing I managed to bring a good sized Roach to hand! It was a nice fish but not as big as those I’d caught recently but I decided to weigh it and was surprised when it pulled the needle round to just over a pound. I got the float back out there with a little more loose feed and was about to settle down again when the longer range feeder rod beeped a few times. It seemed like a few fish were about so I set about rebaiting both feeder rods. Cue a series of mis-casts and other cock ups!
I hoped for a little feeding spell but it didn’t happen but at least I wouldn’t be going home empty handed. I sat back in my chair and settled into a kind of relaxed semi slumber broken only by recasting the feeders every fifteen minutes or so. It’s a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon!
Around 1530 the alarm on the longer range feeder rod sang and the spool started spinning, another bite out of nowhere and once again I even managed to bend into a fish. The ripping take could only have come from a Tench but the bend in the rod said otherwise. A big silver shape materialised and I ever so carefully inched it towards the net. My too heavy tackle soon had the job done and I peered down at a Roach that was clearly a good deal bigger than my first. I felt pretty certain I had my third PB Roach of the spring and at 1.12 the scales agreed. I even decided to set up the self-timer for a proper trophy shot which came out surprisingly well! I’m usually crap at photographing the smaller species.
Once again I sat on the edge of my chair expecting a flurry of action but sadly it didn’t happen. Maybe if I had been able to fish till dusk I would catch a couple more fish but I was running out of time now. Normally I’d pack away as slowly as possible, making the most of every minute and leaving the rods till last but today dark clouds and annoying drizzly rain saw me clearing up and away quickly. It had been a strange day but a productive one just two proper bites and two proper Roach!
The weather is warming up at last and its certain the roach will spawn very soon, meaning our best chance of a whacker has passed. Both Rich and I have taken our opportunity with a handful of 1lb+ Roach and PB’s for both of us. The fishing has been almost alien to us but we’ve managed to learn and stumble along. What is most pleasing is we have done things our own way, caught fish from a swim that no one else has even talked about. We haven’t jumped on any bandwagons and have only used the grapevine to avoid other anglers! Now the water is warming up its time to think hard about catching Tench!