The swim had been plumbed and fed with a few small pellets and grains of sweetcorn. I’d brought some worms with me too, for the hook, should I need a change of bait. I was confident that today I was in with a real chance of catching my first tench of the year. The day was a mild one, though the rain kept threatening to fall and at times, did so. Altough sheltered from the chilly wind by the tall trees surrounding the water, I still made sure I was fishing on the back of it. Whilst setting up I had seen a good fish roll. Quite what it was I was unsure having only seen it peripherally. In all honesty I would say that it was more of carp than tench. Still, fish were moving and active, and as I went about making the first cast my spirit was high. A little past nine o’clock.
It got me thinking. We humans are ruled by time. A constructed idea of time that is. One of clocks and calendars. Seconds ticking by. The natural world doesn’t live by those constructs of course. Plants, for example, are brought out of their dormant state by increased light values and temperatures. So too are other animals, including fish. The plant in the picture above (which I’m reliably informed is called Bugle) always seems to coincide with the tench waking up on this venue. A week or so ago they were still curled up inside green shoots and the tench were nowhere to be found. Now the Bugle is staring to take on its vibrant purple colour those sleepy tench may just be rubbing the sleep from their eyes. Its interesting to think that these visual clues and patterns are all around us. Ones specific to the water you are fishing on. It’s just a case of spotting them and joining the dots. Of course, it all might be purely a coincidence, but if its something that brings that extra bit of confidence, then why not take note.
I’d settled into a feature filled area of the lake. With overhanging trees, reed stems and fine strands of weed dotted about the lake bottom, it seemed a perfect habitat to find a lethargic tench spending some time leisurely searching for breakfast. After half an hour of fishing I had a tentative dip of the float tip. A line bite. No doubt caused by Mr Tinca brushing the line with one of his fins. And again, a definite downward movement of the float, only this time it broke the surface and sank from sight. I struck and briefly connected with a substantial fish. I say briefly as all to quickly the hook pulled and I became unattached. I wasn’t best pleased. A trail of bubbles traced the direction the fish had bolted away in. I had more than likely just lost a tench. Or maybe it was that carp I’d seen? Expletives may have been uttered as I reached for the flask.
Over the next two hours I drank a fair few cups of tea. All the while trickling in pellets and sweetcorn on a little and often basis. A jay flew back and forth on numerous occasions. They are a lovely coloured bird and I can’t recall ever seeing one so close up. The ever elusive woodpecker could be heard from somewhere in the dense forrest and a robin came to visit hoping for a few worm offerings. The only offering sent my way came from the clouds before a slow and deliberate bite materialised late in the afternoon. Just as the rain began to increase in its intensity. It didn’t have the surging power of a tench and this time I remained in contact with the fish. A bream was the lakes consolation prize to me. A chunky and pale fish. Full of spawning tubercles. A most welcome fish in any case. The bream in this water have a habit of turning up anywhere, sometimes just feet from the bank, and seem totally unaware that they’re supposed to stay in the larger expanses of water. Still, who are we to write the rules on what fish can and can’t do. They just ‘do what they do’.
The bream was to be my only fish of the day. In fact it was the last bite of the session too. I was by now well and truly soaked by the heavy rain but it had not managed to dampen my spirit. As I slowly emerged back out from the engrossing world I had been immersed in for several hours, and began to pack away, a tench rolled in the next swim. The equivalent of a tench raising two fingers at me. Perhaps. I like to think it was more more of an invite to try again, next week.
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