Two weeks has passed since my first tench session of the year. I was excited to get back to the venue, full of anticipation of what was to come. Whether that involved catching some tench or not, I felt a lot better about the choices I had made in both rigs and bait. Here I was back again and with fresh eyes, renewed anticipation and some natural bait, I set about finding a swim.
It was around midday and for the first 30 minutes I just watched the water. I was looking for any signs of fish, and though not the best time of day for this, a little time dedicated to it can often throw up some clues. It had been a chilly night with temperatures hovering around freezing and with no fishing giving their presence away I settled into a swim that was on the back of the chilly wind. With rain forecast later in the day I went about making sure I would be staying dry when it started to fall. Next up a quick lead around and I found a reasonably clear patch on a little plateau in around ten feet of water. To one side of it there was a patch of light weed. Perfect. So what rigs would I be using today? I wanted a set up that would give me option to fish on both clear and slightly weedy areas, so instead of the inline feeder rig that has accounted for thousands of tench, I went for a helicopter set up. This way I could vary the distance from feeder to hooklength depending on what I was fishing on.
This is how I set up the rig for fishing over a small bed of particles and maggots presented on a clearer area of the lake bed. The anti tangle properties of the helicopter rig gave me peace of mind and the ability to use a short fluorocarbon hooklength would give me good hooking qualities. Its worth pointing out that I can also vary the distance from the feeder to the hooklength, very useful for gauging how confident the tench themselves are feeding. For fishing to the side of my main feed area I set up a rig I would normally use when fishing rivers. A simple semi fixed setup created by Jan Porter I believe. It involves a tail rubber being push over a swivel or similar and the bomb being pushed over the tail rubber. Not by much, just enough to withstand the cast. If set up correctly you will usually find that the bomb comes free when the fish bolts and becomes free running. If the weed was very thick then I would use a whole different set up anyway.
As already said this rig was cast to the side of my main feed area and the feed, in this case casters, would be introduced via small PVA bags. The hooklength was a little longer on this rig to allow the bait to rest on top of any weed should the bomb itself rest in the weed. The choice of casters over maggot in this situation simply so they don’t crawl away into the weed. I have a feeling this rig will pick up the bigger specimens but only time will tell. After two small Spomb loads of maggots, a scattering of hemp and some pellets had been fed, I picked up my feeder rig and duly made the first cast of the day. Was there any tench out there, any big tench out there? I knew the water was capable of producing them but in all honesty I would be happy just to make contact with a few red eyed fighters.
Five hours passed. In that time the weather had turned for the worse. As the rain hammered down and the wind grew, I plodded on, casting both rods every hour to make sure there was some feed going in. The water was fishing hard. It had the previous day too. I really wanted to catch at least one fish just to give myself some confidence. The size wasn’t an issue it was more a case of breaking my duck on the water. Around 6 o’clock out of the corner of my eye, I saw a fish roll in the margins. I couldn’t honestly tell if it was a tench or a carp. No sooner had my eyes registered the movement, the fish was gone, leaving only concentric circles. I couldn’t ignore it though so as quietly as possible, I introduced a little bait in the area I’d seen the fish. I carefully flicked out a rig, the bomb rig as it happens, with a dead red maggot and a fake grub as hookbait. The landing felt cleanish, and I hoped the hookbait wasn’t hidden from view. I was casting blind after all. The minutes ticked by, and with every one I felt my chance of a fish dwindled. Until an hour later, the rod tore off at a terrifying rate, and I was playing a very angry fish. It turned out to be a tench of course, and I was over the moon with it.
A male fish weighing 4lb 14oz. A pretty average fish really but with it being my first ‘proper’ fish from the venue and after the poor run I’ve had the last few weeks this fish means more to me than I ever thought it would. This is why I love fishing. Who would have thought a near 5lb tench could bring such enjoyment. Well it did and it renewed my confidence no end. At least for now I know my bait and rig works so its just a case of waiting for some consistency in weather, both in the temperature and wind direction. Then its up to me to find where the fish are and go about catching them. I can’t wait and I can’t think of a better place to be spending my time.
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Until next time,