So much for pike fishing. After a reasonable start everything went rapidly down hill. If I didn't blank completely, as in get no action at all, I got dropped takes (I never get dropped takes) and the one better fish I connected with fell off almost at the net. It was unbearable so I gave up. The constant rain through March didn't encourage me either. April is always a bit hit and miss for any fishing in my experience so I thought I'd wait until spring arrived in fine style before getting the rods out again.
In mid-April I was starting to get some enthusiasm back and decide that I needed a pair of tench rods, having sold my last set and not wanting to use my Interceptors now I've become a born-again fan of ten footers. 10ft 1.75lb Stalkers seemed like the best choice. Traditional through action, slim and light. At this time of year pike rod orders have quietened down and I often get the urge to try some non-standard builds for my personal use. So what to do to the Stalkers?
Go minimal. Not having tried the American Tackle Vortex guides/rings/eyes, call them what you will, a set of light rods seemed a good chance to give them a whirl. While I was at it I messed about with ring spacings and came up with a new Rover pattern of seven plus tip to suit the through action. Wanting an equally minimalist looking handle I went through a lot of dry runs eventually settling for a 16mm reel seat with shrink tube and Duplon 'bits'. A Delrin butt cap finishing the handle off. Built up with dark grey thread holding the rings in place they looked pretty smart.
There was just one thing nagging me. They felt a bit undergunned. Tying leads to the end of line run through the rings and waggling it about making short casts in the back garden 1.75oz seemed a bit much. 1.5oz was more like it. Only one way to find out if this was a false perception. Go fishing!
It took a while for the weather and my spare time to coincide, and when it did I almost didn't bother, but yesterday was perfect. One of the warmest and sunniest afternoons for an age, with only a light wind blowing. Not only would I give the new rods a whirl, I'd go fish a new venue that I've walked round a few times. Unfortunately it's a platform job, which meant the pod had to be dragged out. With some maggots bought earlier in the week along with a bag of halibut pellets and a tin of long past its sell-by date sweetcorn I had plenty of feed for a short session.The rigs were simple enough. One rod had a helicopter feeder set-up, two fake casters being the hook baits. The second rod had a running leger armed with two grains of fake corn. Guaranteed tench catchers!
The swim I had hoped to fish was occupied so I had to have a look round. The one I chose had emergent reeds to either side and a layer of scum the prevailing wind had blown surrounding the platform. It was only a week or two since I last walked round the pit but it had turned to pea soup in that time. I wasn't over-happy about that.
A quick handful of casts with the lead rig to get an idea of depths near the reeds and I was ready to get set up. Feeder to my left, leger to my right. catapult out freebies over the top. Set the bobbins. Sit back and wait.
The sun reflecting off the gentle ripple was in my eyes. It was time to get the sunglasses out. I had nearly left them out of the rucksack when paring down its contents but reasoned they didn't weigh much. I was glad to have them with me.
There was quite a bit of fishy activity. Certainly fish could be seen swirling and an odd bigger splash heard. The bubbles coming up in front of and to the sides of the swim might have been tench too. Then I started getting knocks and rattles on the feeder rod. It wasn't long before the rattling rod top didn't stop and I lifted into a fish which turned out to be a hand sized rudd. Until it broke surface I hadn't a clue what it was as visibility was nil. One rod christened. Back out with the rig and more freebies
The next take was a series of pulls followed by slack line. As soon as I felt the fish on the end of the line I knew it was a tench. Jagging about and constantly changing direction. It plainly wasn't very big, even on the light rods it was no concern, but the little bugger wouldn't go in the net. Mainly because of it's erratic swimming around, and also because I couldn't see where it was!
I can't remember catching a tench under four pounds since 1982 when I last caught tench from the local canal. Maybe I've got spoiled over the years, but a two pound tench, no matter how pretty it looks, doesn't do much for me these days. Still, I'd caught my target species, and things could only get better.
Another fish fell for the casters. A third species, if a roach/bream hybrid counts as a species. Possibly scraping half a pound it had to be netted - along with a load of the floating scum and twigs. The scum was a mix of algae, small twigs, willow fluff and other tree debris typical of this time of year.
All this action happened in the first hour of my session. As the sun stopped dazzling me I could see there was a tremendous hatch on, the shuck also adding to the floating scum. Whatever the fish population is in the place they won't be short of food.
I was planning on stopping until nine thirty but the activity to the rods had dried up when the surface ripple began to die away and I was starting to wonder if it was going to be worth it. Recasting was getting tricky as the scum was starting to reach past where my lines entered the water. And even getting close to where I was positioning the feeder. I sat it out, occasionally catapulting out a few more offerings over both rigs.
At ten to nine the corn rod was away. Again I could tell it was obviously a tench when I picked the rod up. Again it did the silly swimming in circles under the rod tip thing. It didn't feel much bigger, but it was pulling harder, if that makes sense, and I suspected it of being a male. I wasn't wrong. Just for the hell of it I weighed the little blighter. Two and a half pounds of chunky, cheeky tench.
I clung on until the bitter end for no more reward. Both rods christened, if not well tested, had beaten the new tackle jinx for once. I tried a few longer casts with them at packing up time and I have to say that an empty 30gm feeder was bending the rod into the butt on the cast. Until I hook something with some weight behind it I'm reserving judgement on the Stalkers. Doing my usual back garden line tied to a hook on the garage wall tests they do feel like there's a bit in the butt. If another session on the new pit doesn't give them a proper work out, even a four pounder would do, I might take them to a carp puddle! They're a popular barbel rod though, so maybe it's just me?