The spring that fed in at one end of the lake had coloured up the water significantly in the few days I’d been absent. The excess water ran swiftly over the sluice at the other. It certainly seemed to have stirred things up a bit. In the time I had been here I’d seen a few bream roll and even a patch or two of tench bubbles. So when the float showed it’s first sign of movement it was almost as if it had to do so. The days story somehow already written. All I needed to do was go with the flow. The float bobbed nervously before sinking slowly, allowing me plenty of warning to time the strike. The rod curved into shape. A plodding, lumbering weight signalled I was almost certainly into a bream. Upon netting the fish I realised it was a fish I had definitely met before. A blind, scrawny fish and one that would win no prizes in a beauty contest. An old warrior, if you will, and I was most pleased to know it still graced the lake. Alive and ‘well’.
It’s probably the smallest bream here with most being upward of 5lb and it certainly wasn’t the tench I was after. I still treated with respect though and made sure it was unhooked, rested and returned with minimum fuss. Many people scoff at bream but when the tench are not biting, I will happily catch them. Time to feed the swim with a little more bait. Who knows how much had just been mopped up by that hungry mouth. Above me the blue sky began to overtake the grey. A lot quicker than I anticipated and I hoped the bright conditions forecast would hold off for an hour or two yet.
Over the next half an hour the rig was recast several times. I was using sweetcorn and casters as bait, fishing the former as hookbait. On this occasion as the rig settled there was a sizeable line bite. Dragging the float downward but not under. I’d left plenty of the tip visible for just this reason. Otherwise its hard not to strike at them. A case of sitting on your hands and making sure. After several similar indications the float once more slid away confidently. Another lumbering fight ensued only this time the weight felt much greater. I took my time, guiding the fish through the swim and towards the waiting landing net. A long and broad bream surfaced in front of me. Pin point netting was needed as the fish only just fit into the frame. I was sure this bream was the biggest I have ever caught from the venue.
And so it turned out to be, at a few ounces over eight pound. I was chuffed to bits. Time for a few very quick pictures before slipping her back in the next swim. Then for a cup of tea after once more topping up the swim with some freebies. As I waited for the tea to cool, I had a wander. The abundance of life in the marginal weed went some way to demonstrate how much natural food there is in the lake. Pond skaters, water boatmen, tadpoles and more water snails than you could shake a stick at. Such is the rich larder at the fish’s disposal, I am surprised they can be tempted at all with paltry offerings of sweetcorn and week old casters. I’m very glad they do occasionally fancy a change.
Over the next few hours the day grew into a beautiful sun filled one. The temperature rose. The sky became a deep blue canvas for an occasional white fleck to pass over. It did little to help my cause but that wasn’t such a problem. I just had to just go with the flow, I remembered. I took off my hoodie and resigned myself to catching nothing more than a few rays. Of course, I fished on, still with an optimism that had no right to even exist. What is it that drives fisherman to sit it out when all past experience says ‘go home’? Sp when the float sank from view, quite literally out of the the blue, I had to make sure I wasn’t imagining it. The curve in the rod confirmed reality. This was certainly a fish. A powerful one too. Those bullish yet smooth runs that could only belong to one species. The one I had been setting out to catch, yet so far this season, had failed miserably in doing so.
Once the fish was in the net and unhooked I took a few moments to appreciate how wonderful tench are. Solid yet sleek. Tastefully vibrant. That little red jewel of an eye. Their absence certainly makes my heart grown fonder. It was time for her to return home and indeed for me to do the same. I certainly didn’t push my luck. No amount of last casts would have made the session any more complete. An old friend, a new venue personal best and the first tench of the year. Three is the magic number.
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