Monday 30 May 2016


May should be a really productive month for a Tench angler but it never is for me, no different to any other time now I think about it.  For some reason I never seem to have much time in the spring, there are too many other distractions and this month had been very busy.  However the weekend was here and an afternoon come evening opportunity presented itself.  I didn’t really fancy the big lake or more to the point, I fancied fishing the new water as although I’d had a look around I hadn’t yet dropped a line in it.

So on a sunny, warm and breezy day I launched a punt and set off.  The aim was to explore and hopefully catch a fish or two so I armed myself with a pellet waggler rod, some groundbait, maggots and corn.  I paddled around peering into the water, dropping in here and there and fishing for a bit.  For company I had the Purple Princess wielding a new camera as well as TMS on the radio, for once I enjoyed hearing the opposition batsmen doing a little better and extending the match a bit.  England will win on the fourth day though. 

I knew the water could get very weedy and it certainly showed a lot of weed of all varieties.  I also spotted a tiny Pike in the weed, no more than two inches long a perfectly camouflaged miniature predator.  My approach was to find clearer areas and drop a bit of bait in, along with my float and bait.  Then I sat back to see what happened.  It was nice to just chuck a float out and catch what came along just as I did as a kid, doing this led me to being addicted to angling for life.  I can’t remember ever fishing like this from a punt before though.

I fished about five spots in all and caught fish in all of them; mostly Rudd along with a couple of Perch and one solitary Roach.  I didn’t see sight or sound of any Tench but I did see a good sized Carp slurping down emerging flies.  I enjoyed the intimate fishing even though I felt I was totally useless at it!  I waited for the sun to set before paddling back with plenty to think about.  It’s a really nice place to spend time and working out where and how to catch the bigger fish is just the sort of fishing I enjoy.
Following on…
I couldn’t be arsed getting up early in the morning with a cold Northerly wind blowing so it was not until 0745 that I rolled into the car park.  I opened the boot and realised I’d left my muck boots behind, that could be a problem.  I had a quick scout around, there was one area in particular where I’d been meaning to try, and today I would have the wind on my back.  The area looked inviting but without wellies I couldn’t fish it safely.  I ended up in a more familiar area which looked okay but meant I’d be hiding behind the oval with the wind in my chops.

The weekend had been around 20 degrees but today it was down to about 15 and felt cooler under the gloomy skies.  Not a day to be sitting out staring at a float so I began with two feeder rigs; one dropped about fifteen yards down the slope in seven feet of water, the other just a couple of rod lengths out where I baited up with a bit of seed mix, some maggots and some corn.  The close in rod was cast infrequently but for the other I kept braving the blow to keep the feeder going in.  When I did venture out of shelter it was nice to see the big lake in almost full summer bloom.  It’s changed a lot over the last two months.  The resident Swans now have a family of five young to look after, the Shelduck were still around along with a pair of Grebes that must have a nest nearby.  Once again there was constant birdsong all day but stuck behind the brolly I didn’t see much of it.

After a couple of hours I decided to change the close in rod to an inline lead with a tutti boilie and fake corn hair rigged on a short hooklength, I topped the area up with a bit more groundbait.  Then I sat back with a cup of tea and TMS on the radio.  The wind was forecast to increase throughout the afternoon and I would be happy under shelter with the radio.  On the fishing front things remained quiet as did the cricket; England only managed one wicket in the morning session and into the afternoon a decent partnership built.  As the wind increased in the afternoon session so did the action, England picked off the wickets and was set seventy something to win.  The fishing had seen nothing of note happening so as England’s innings began I started to tidy up.  A gust of wind rattled the brolly and knocked the radio over, I picked it up just in time to hear Cook pass ten thousand test runs.  I was home in time to watch the last few overs and the winning runs on tele.

Despite the traditional Pike season coming to an end PAC members have been busy tackling poaching in Essex and Yorkshire (please click the links below).  The shocking truth is the EA just don’t have enough enforcement officers to go round.  The ones they do have are stretched wafer thin and just can’t cover the ground to do the job.  The environment agency do not give anglers value for money, they just tax us.

Talking of PAC the very latest Pikelines magazine arrived a couple of weeks ago and it is the best for years.  Several well written articles by top Pikers in a beautifully laid out mag but you don’t expect anything less from new editor Stephen Harper.  That’s just another reason why every serious Pike angler should be a member.  I may be biased, bollocks I am biased but I think Pikelines is the best Pike fishing magazine there is.

I have a subscription to Pike & Predators magazine too and this usually has a right ol’ mix of articles; good bad and indifferent.  Editor Neville Fickling always writes something interesting and there are good articles from other authors every month.  There is usually someone reinventing the wheel, sometimes in an attempt to sell tackle and usually there are a couple of thinly disguised advertorials.  I wonder how much does Mick Flanagan pays to advertise his business every month?  On the whole the mag is a pretty good read.

Friday 6 May 2016

Two out of two

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!

Sunday 1 May 2016


April has been frustrating, just when it seems like spring is approaching two weeks of winds from the north and east made it a cold horrible month.  Fishing time has been limited and I’ve only managed one further visit to the big lake.  I tried to hedge my bets again, tackling up hoping for Tench or Roach but managed neither.  The only bite of the day came in the near dark as I was packing up.  What I have to decide is what do I want to catch most, Roach or Tench?  I know I have a chance of the silvers in the spot I fancy for Tench but there are probably better areas.   Apart from that I’ve been out and about, walking and exploring, looking for signs and clues.  Fishing new waters is a buzz, it’s given my fishing a new injection of enthusiasm. It’s frustrating that my calendar is really full this spring and I don’t know how much time I’ll be able to spend at the lake, not enough that’s for sure.

The angling world has been saddened recently by the deaths of Dave Kelbrick and Jan Porter.  Both men were not only fine anglers but more unusually both were universally liked.  Dave was best known as a Pike angler and was particularly renowned as a lure angler.  Jan was initially famous as a highly successful match angler who in later years became an all-rounder, fishing for anything that swam.  I met Dave just the once, enjoying a pleasant chat at the PAC conference a few years ago.  He and son Luke were warm and friendly just as people who know them far better have described.  I had the pleasure of Jan’s company a couple of times, once spending a full day with him and he really was my kind of bloke; kind, generous and funny.  We found we had things other than fishing in common too.  RIP Dave and Jan.