The matter of short sessions on the lake has for me been a pragmatic one, with my initial angles being not particularly productive, and I can now in hindsight see how poorly aimed they may of been. Big quantities of noisily deposited bait needed long periods of time for the fish that know it's there to come back in on it. Paradoxically smaller more precise deposits seemed too little to attract any interest. Or so I thought! Whilst on my last visit lift float fishing amongst the weeds in the edge of the lake, I watched a shoal of five tench both small and large, move around my swim through the clear water. The first thing that struck me was how five fish could actively move around my line which cut diagonally through the water and not register there presence on my float at all; and secondly - and far more interesting - was their behaviour. Not at one point did they actually get their heads down hard on the bait, even though they were obviously aware of it being there as it seemed to hold some attraction for them.
I watched in sheer wonder as they picked up odd offering here and there. I racked my brain to fathom this feeding out. Now before I throw out any bait I always first plop either a ball or a handful into the edge of any water I am fishing just to see what how it goes down, how it looks on the bottom and what happens to it over time. Referring back to my earlier deposit only a foot from the edge I noticed something I had not clocked before. The tomato sized ball I had dropped in had, after a few hours, broken down fully into a small carpet as I expected, but in doing so had left a three inch deep crater lined with bait in the silk weed that covers the bed of the lake.
This was a epiphany, and after trying my rig in the same area I realised that the six inches from my hook to the heavy pinning down weight was in fact nowhere near long enough, and when the weight landed in the weed the bait was pulled into the silk weed or to within a very short distance of my mainline. On this occasion two modifications to my rig helped me wheedle out a fish. The the length from hook to weight was lengthened to ten inches and I also changed my normal shot to a blob of tungsten putty which I flattened to help it stay on top of the weed. Both worked well in the edge.
Away from the lake I applied this theory, plus the way those tench fed, to my method rigs and concluded that unless my rigs landed in a clear patch it was highly unlikely, given the trajectory of my entering rig, that my bait would end up visible at all, and given the browsing nature of the tench at least maybe if they weren't rooting around hard they were never going to find my hook bait.
So I made up two new rigs which employed longer eight inch green mono hook links with a highly buoyant bait on the hook, which should be able to find its way above any silk weed and float above the attractive ball of free bait just above.
I couldn't wait to try this new theory out and short evening session seemed the perfect scenario to do so. Being out on summer nights is one of the true pleasures of fishing. The mosquitoes that swarm around the lake are not. Just setting up I could feel their beady little eyes staring at me as they pondered which part of me to stab with their proboscis.
Eventually after casting both rods out I sat back nestled between two reed beds to settle down with fresh bottle of insect replant. Upon spraying onto my face the smell hit me like a blast from the past, evoking the memory of my folks going out for the night and the smell of mum's perfume as she kissed me good bye at the door. As nice of a memory as that was, smelling like the perfume my mother wore in the late eighties is not that nice for a thirty five year old man who has a bank side reputation to uphold. To make it worse I still got bitten anyway!
The floral sent emanating from the reed bed did not deter the fish either, and soon enough a run bleeped into life as a respectable old looking bream picked up my bait.
As I was not putting any amount of bait out I regularly recast the rods into different areas in the hope of trying to land on or at least close to some fish to maximise my chances of capture. Only moments after repositioning both rods, another one was away; this fish dithered not and the bobbin slammed into the alarm ferociously. Not only do tench and bream bite differently, but they fight in very different ways. The bream just try to resist being pulled in by turning sideways, whereas the tench make massive kiting runs, keeping low right until they are under the rod tip. This was certainly a tench. Sure enough the round dorsal fin broke the surface just before the net was slipped under it.
Sadly after this fish the skies turned very black and the summer rain hammered onto the surface of the lake, seemingly ending the session instantly. I have seen little evidence that the tench feed that well once the light has gone, and considering their proclivity towards just browsing I wonder if they favour sight feeding over sniffing out food.
Though two fish a theory does not confirm, it does seem to have made a marked difference to the fortunes of my short sessions so far and is something I will stick with until my now lake obsessed brain thinks of something else as I continue trying to fathom those murky depths.