I don't mind admitting that just lately I have been biding my time a little, and now after much waiting and biding the weather has finally come around enough for me to start some tench fishing. And it's about bloody time too, as by my reckoning it's nearly a month later getting to this point than it was last year. I was beginning to worry I might develop a severe case of the DT's if I couldn't dig in after the doctor fish soon.
As warm blooded life forms that exist in an environment where the temperature changes quickly, I think we often struggle to relate to our cold blooded neighbours trapped in an aquatic world. Living in the thin air with warm blood means that we can appreciate the rise in temperature quickly as it increases, whereas our slimy friends under the water probably wont's see any marked change for days as their more viscous environment takes much longer to heat than ours. Where I think we struggle to relate is when the sun shines, warming our environment, we automatically assume that the water too has risen by however many degrees on a par with our own. This quite often ends up in the situation I am sure many anglers found themselves in this weekend just past, where they assumed the time was here to abandon slowly, slowly, catchy, monkey in favour of the 'have all this munga and get on my line' approach.
This past week the temperature had climbed by ten degrees, the sun now shone and every type of media in England ran stories heralding the arrival of Spring. Maybe if one of the weekly angling publications gave a crap about more than just filling their pages with adverts they might of ran a headline along the lines of 'Springs arrives! But the water is still cold so don't go mad lads!!!'
Even knowing the water was still cold, tench had to be my quarry for a couple of sessions this weekend, because luckily one of my favourite tench waters wakes up very early and good sport can be had at least three weeks before most other tench venues really get into the swing of things. It was with that in mind that I cashed in my one remaining lieu day so as I could spend an entire day on the banks of this early starter, and try and see how the land was lying now the belated spring had sputtered into existence.
To be frank I thought I had arrived before the fish had woken up as over the course of the first hour tales of woe from other anglers were conveyed to me. Add to that the generally silent nature of my bite indicators and the way my bobbins hung lifelessly and I was getting a bit concerned, as I knew if the fish were in the mood it quite often happens pretty quickly here. I just needed a little sign of interest to calm me down...
What joy just two bleeps can bring! Most times a single bleep means very little, on a windy day blame is easily associated to the waves for two bleeps, but on a calm day two bleeps means so much more than one. So with those precious two bleeps my entire demeanour flipped and confidence was restored. Something was there and it was inclined towards my hook.
I left it alone more than long enough, the whole time wishing it would tear away until so long had passed that I had to check the rig for some kind of failure. I held the hook up to the sky to check it was OK before I pulled it over my thumb nail and just as the sharpness grated through my nerves the other indicator sounded as the light bobbin jerked up an inch or so. That was enough for me to drop one rod and strike the other one in one fluid movement.
One hour and forty minutes in and my first tench of 2013 made its way in a rather subdued manner towards my net. Whether it took fifty yards for the fish to wake up or it was trying to lull me into some false sense of security was anyone guess, but as it neared the bank it went berserk and fought for easily ten times longer than it had taken to get it to where it was, until finally it passed over the cord and ended the winter for me. Though outwardly calm and smiling inside my head a raucous fanfare was under way in rejoice of this most important fish for me of the year for me.
The next fish turned out to not be a subtle as the first. Baz had turned up with carp in mind and was setting up just down the bank and it was while chatting with him as he unpacked his gear that my right hand rod went into what can only be described as meltdown. It was one of those moments when your bite indicator goes from silent to single tone instantly, and then I seemed to be running on the spot like a cartoon character trying to reach the rod.
Another lean female on the mat looked in great condition apart from some strange red patches which seemed stained into her skin. They were nether raised or open and did not seem to be detrimental to the fish. I wondered whether they were something to do with what they had been eating, but apparently it is something called red pest which is supposedly a harmless bacterial infection, according to Baz.
I had to wait four hours for the next spell of activity and this lead me to believe that the fish could well of been feeding in short spells. The first of which coincided with the air temp going into double figures, and the second I suppose could be attributed to the time it takes for the first lot of food from the mornings feeding to be digested. Hence hours later the action began again after a hint of enquiry and a bit of wait another dithering bite emerged and third but pale female found the net.
It was me that was dithering this time as I packed away. Baz had just left and I should have been going but as per normal I had got to that everything I could packed away and now I hung around just in case. It turned out I was right and just before I pulled the rods a forth fish took the bait. This one though smashed the lake up surging all over the shop and that can only indicate one thing. A mental little male tench to finish.
I returned Sunday for another crack but this was a different day all together White horses rode over the lake and just setting up was a hassle with the wind coursing down onto the deeper bank where I was intent on fishing. I could of set up under the wind, but to do so I would of had to fish the shallower bank and the idea of trying to make long casts towards the deep water with the wind intersecting my cast seemed sensless. So I fought it out with the wind in my face.
The thought that this was about to be a total nightmare occurred to me as the first rod I had cast out repeatedly bleeped as I tried to cast my second. That was until the indicator made a few too many bleeps to be wind. The still un-cast road was gently stowed on the rests before I picked up the first and struck into my first fish of the day. The line had hardly settled and I was into a fish. It was the smallest one of the whole weekend, but you can imagine that it kind of got me thinking I was about to bag up.
Five hours and one dropped run later I sat wind whacked and flabbergasted at the lack of action. I had spent the whole morning being as proactive as possible. Some baits were left in situ for long periods whilst others where recast repeatedly and with much aggravation from the wind in an attempt to try and locate fish.
It wasn't until noon had past that I hit a tentative pick up and felt visceral insanity that could only mean I was attached to another small male tench. He pulled out all the stops but happily my well tuned rigs and set up seem to be doing very well from the off this year and have so far left me six for six and culminated with me landing this minter.
Nothing massive came my way but this weekend proved to be a great warm up. Right now I have one hundred percent confidence in my rigs using the method feeder and I hope the same can be said when I change them for maggot feeders in a few weeks time. As for the tench, they all seem to have come through the winter no worse for ware. Unlike me who has piled on a few pounds scoffing starchy stuff in the cold they seem relatively as lean as they should be after such a prolonged cold spell, and it wont take them long to plump up as I hopefully slim down a bit.