Off to the shops for some grub, call in for some maggots on the way home, then isten to the finish of the Test Match and leave for tinca territory. By lunchtime I was getting itchy feet. By two the cricket seemed to be heading for a lacklustre draw. By three-thirty I was on the road. Packing the car has become a well oilied routine now and everything slotted into place nicely.
|Loaded for tench|
The sun was shining when I arrived but although the air temperature was high the south-westerly was taking the heat out of it. With the wind having swung right round since my last session something made me consider fishing the opposite end of the lake. A swim I had often thought about fishing was free, and it would give some shelter from the wind to my encampment. One night and a morning here would be pleasant, and might teach me something. I was a bit stuck in a rut fishing the same old swims. Keeping mobile had been successful for me before and it was time to drag myself out of the tenchy doldrums.
|Set up and waiting|
A quick plumb around revealed a clear lake bed over the drop-off, and a nice depth too. I had hoped to bait up by catapult as it's a bit quicker than using a spod, but the wind was blowing the bait off course and restricting my range. So the spod it was - even though an under-arm swing was all I needed. The rigs were the same ones used on finishing my last session. With them all cast out it was time to get settled down.
|Spot the fakes|
Even before it went dark a young rat was scurrying around. It wasn't accompanied by any adults that I noticed. The winter does seem to have thinned the Rolands out. But I'm sure they'll be breeding quickly and it will be situation normal soon enough. When I looked out after dark I saw the rodent a few times. It kept itself away from me, which was good fortune on its behalf as I had my traps with me!
At dusk there had been a prolific hatch of insects which first a multitude of swifts and martins took advantage off, the feasting continuing by the faint moonlight as bats took over. The wind eased and I spent an undisturbed night, waking around three thirty to the start of the dawn chorus as the sun tried to light the sky. The usual Nutrigrain bar was eaten to give me an energy boost, washed down with the day's first brew. That ritual out of the way I was willing to get up, spod out some more feed and refill the feeders. Then it was back into the doss bag!
It had turned seven and I was sat on the edge of my bedchair contemplating a recast when the right hand bobbin hit the deck, just starting to rise as I picked the rod up, wound down and leant into the fish. It felt heavy from the off but despite the weight it was soon on the surface, rolling to reveal a deep flank before starting to fight. It looked a good 'un. In the net at the second attempt and it really did look a good 'un, two buoyant red plastic maggots dangling from the middle of her lip. On the scales and I was well chuffed. The first tench of the year had been a while coming, and now I wasn't bothered if I didn't catch another! The photos were my first serious attempt at using my DSLR for self-takes, and didn't quite go to plan. But I got enough decent shots to suffice.
|First of the year|
The rest of the day was uneventful. The wind swung a little more to the west, a few showers came and went with great speed. I had a few recasts, moving one bait around the swim on the off chance. It was quiet on the fish front.
|Showers and (less than a minute later)...|
After tea had been eaten and I'd spodded out some more seeds and dead maggots tench began to show. A couple rolled, one slapped its tail on the surface. None were over my bait though. Then at quarter to eight the middle bobbin dropped back fitfully. This fish didn't feel as heavy, but had more speed. I thought for a while it might prove to be a male, but it wasn't. Just a feisty female which shed some spawn in the weighsling, looking a bit thin around the back end, suggesting she had spawned. Then it was back to inactivity for the rest of the evening and all of the night.
Around four I repeated my morning rituals before settling down to resume my slumbers with freshly filled feeders sitting on the gravel. Although a few tench had shown early on when it was dull, it was completely out of the blue that the middle alarm stuttered into life before sounding in earnest as the sun beat down. This was another fast moving fish that had reached weed. Again I suspected a male, and again I was proved wrong. Like the first fish this one didn't look to have spawned, but wasn't as 'chesty' as some tench get before they drop their eggs. Another victim for the in-line feeder/plastic caster combo.
|Another one fooled by plastic|
I had a couple of hours to go before the time I had set myself to leave. My confidence was high. Misplaced confidence. I would have liked to stop another night as I reckon more fish would have shown up, but I wasn't too disappointed to be leaving. It would probably have been dusk before anything had come along again.
My concern now is that the tench might all spawn before I can get back again. I guess I'll just have to give it another shot to find out.