By Andrew Kennedy
As Spring lethargically
began to take it's hold, my latest session had me in two minds. Should
I try for some early season tench, or go for some late season pike?
I opted to take tackle and bait with me to target either species.
There are two different lakes I fish, within a couple of miles of
each other. One holds both tench and small pike, whilst the other
holds pike of specimen proportions. I decided to head in the general
direction of these lakes and see what conditions I found when I arrived.
I arrived at the first venue at first light and as I approached the
gate, I noticed a dark figure scurrying across a field in front of
me. It was a badger! One of my favourite British mammals, and one
which I have seldom seen in the wild. This sighting gave my confidence
an early boost and gave me feeling that the day might turn out to
be a special one.
I had a good walk around the three-acre lake before I set up any tackle.
It was a cold morning and it just didn't feel right for tench fishing
yet. After spooking a few fish in the margins, which I presumed to
be pike, I headed back to the van to collect my lure rod. I tried
everything from floating frog-imitations to sinking shad-style crankbaits,
but couldn't get as much as a follow in the early morning gloom. After
an hour of fruitless lure fishing, curiosity got the better of me
and I headed to the other lake to see what awaited me there.
By the time I arrived at the second lake, the day was brightening
up. I first tried lures, before returning to the van to collect my
bait rods and cool-box. On the walk back to the van, something caught
my eye on the trunk of a bare tree. On closer inspection, I realised
I was looking at a treecreeper - a bird I have wanted to see for some
years, but never witnessed in the wild before. By the end of the day
I'd spotted at least eight of these elusive birds, which I found quite
I returned my two deadbait rods and set them in very shallow water
against some marginal reeds. I had to stealthily approach the reedbeds,
avoiding stepping on dead twigs which littered the ground. One of
my baits was presented freeline, dropped just below the rod tip, poking
over the reeds. The other bait was float-legered further along the
reeds. It took a little over an hour to get my first run, which I
wound down to and struck quickly, only to be met with little resistance.
Run missed. A further half an hour or so passed, before the freelined
bait was picked up. Once again I struck quickly, but failed to connect
with the pike. With two missed runs I was getting a little worried
that I had either found extremely finicky pike, or extremely small
ones. When the freelined bait was taken again a little while later,
I paid out line to the running fish for around fifteen seconds, before
winding down and finally feeling the familiar head-shake of a hooked
pike. Before long I had the fish, which weighed around three pounds,
to the bank. Despite letting it run a little longer, the fish was
still only hooked with the trailing treble. I flicked out the hook
and returned the fish with minimal fuss.
By this point, the sun was very high in the sky and surprisingly warm.
Consoled by the fact that I hadn't blanked, I decided to leave the
pike and have a try for a tench, back at the first lake. Upon taking
a walk around the water, now bathed in sunlight, I spotted several
small groups of double-figure carp cruising the surface layers, seemingly
searching for food. I was supposed to be searching out the tench,
but stalking big carp is always extremely tempting! So I rigged up
a rod with 5lb mainline, a small blob of floating putty and a size
8 hook; then I grabbed a tub of worms and tore the crusts from my
sandwiches. Surely these carp, wallowing beneath the surface film,
couldn't resist a natural bait such as a worm? Evidently they could!
Despite my best stalking efforts, with various bait presentations,
I could not persuade a single fish to feed. After spending a couple
of hours pursuing these very wary fish, I decided to cut my losses
and try to get a tench swim going before it was too late.
Prior to my stalking escapade, I had the sense to pre-bait a couple
of swims with a mixture of minced prawns, micro pellets and brown
crumb. I had chosen a peg with a shallow shelf, on which I would fish
the lift method, and a deep trench, where I would feeder-fish. The
reason I used minced prawns is that I was testing out some new prawn
imitations, made by Enterprise Tackle. I was also testing the brilliant
new Stonze system hook. More on those in a future review.
I topped up the swims with a little more loosefeed, cast out, and
sat back in my chair, looking for any signs of feeding fish. The swim
where I was fishing worm on the lift method, was constantly being
invaded by swans who could just reach the bottom and managed to devour
the majority of my loosefeed. Some bubbles coming from the deep trench
caught my eye. I increased the depth my float was set at and cast
the worm out to join the imitation shrimp in the trench. I had nothing
resembling a bite on either rod until the sun began to set behind
I was caught daydreaming when the baitrunner on my worm rod burst
into action! Startled, I lifted the rod and struck into a heavy fish.
The tench of a lifetime - I thought, as I brought it to the surface
quickly and easily. As it neared the surface, the fish found a new
lease of life! At first I thought it had been seized by a huge pike,
as it careered towards the far end of the lake, taking at least 40
yards of my 5lb line. I managed to exert enough pressure upon the
fish to turn it's head, which prompted it to swim parallel with the
far bank at tremendous speed, towards a sunken bush. I reeled as fast
as I could to keep up with the fish, and managed to steer it away
from the snag just in time, but the fight was far from over. Soon
I was at full stretch applying maximum sidestrain, as the mystery
fish tried to snag me under a tree on the next peg. Luckily I managed
to ease the fish into open water, where the last few minutes of the
battle took place. When a large, gasping head broke the surface, I
knew my "tench" was actually a fighting fit, double-figure
mirror carp. As I slid it over the net I breathed a sigh of relief.
At 12lb 7oz, the
carp was by no means a monster, but the fight was extremely memorable.
Considering my carp fishing nowadays consists purely of a few stalking
sessions and the odd opportunistic capture, I considered this fish
a welcome distraction to an otherwise uneventful tench session. The
tench would just have to wait until next time...
Good fishing to you all
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