Summer fishing for me is all about tench and crucians. Occasionally carp take my fancy and the river calls me away, but for most it's all about warm early mornings, hot summer nights, bubbles around floats and the sticky smell of sweet corn on my hands. With my tench and crucian mojo now in full swing it was a happy coincidence that a trip south to the Marsh Farm fishery with my good friend Martin Oxley had come around. It's been a few years since I originally went and it was Martin's first time but both of us had high hopes for this little trip.
With baking weather predicted for the day the pair of us set off south about as early as I like to be out of bed, to make the gates of Marsh Farm for opening time. Our organized start and clear journey saw us first in the queue with half an hour to wait before the hallowed gates were opened to let us onto the well manicured banks. It was actually very quiet angler wise and after paying our day ticket fees we had the choice of most of the Harris Lake to choose from. Picking a peg on this lake is not an easy prospect with so much choice on this occasion. In the end we headed for a pair of end swims where the wind had blown most the flotsam off the lake and several tench were obviously rooting around, judging from the fizzing along the scum line.
From the off I stuck by my plan which I had pre-formulated prior to coming down; bait a tight area close to a feature, fish an over-sensitive rig on that spot and hit even the slightest movement of the float. For a proper tinca head like me, Marsh Farm is a winner even if I didn't catch my target crucian as the tench are actually the pest fish in this lake. Literally you can observe them approach your bait by watching the small patches of fizz rising intermittently ever closer to your hook bait. This was exactly what happened pretty much immediately after I cast out for the first time. Three or four different fish where quickly homing in on the bait before my Drennan antenna float rose gently up out of the water and I struck. This tench cleared the swim in two violent charges back and forth over the baited area and scattered its compadres far and wide.
It seemed as the morning ran on that the all the fish seemed reluctant to stop in the shallower water we were fishing at the end of the lake. My swim had been devoid of fish since that first tench had smashed the place up and the obvious lack of fish had me itching to move to new pastures. Martin though had had several crucians roll on his spot and was keen to press on with his swim. After a quick recce up the bank I located a swim with a large lily bed tight on the right had side of the swim. The sun was now high in the sky and baking down and this cover seemed the best option to keep the fish going.
A couple of exhausting yomps later me and all my kit were settled in the new swim and fifty inches of umbrella was erected to offer me some shade from the savage rays. The plummet revealed a decent depth just the other side of the pads and a tempting mixture of ground bait, pellets and casters were potted out to the edge of this feature. It was a perfect spot as there was little more than eighteen inches from the rod tip to the edge of the pads and this enabled me to fish as if I were using a pole while using a rod and this was something that would soon come into play.
It wasn't an easy afternoon given the steamy temperatures but there were bubbles rising intermittently from my swim and I was certain a crucian might well slip up. The bottom of this swim must have been different, that or the tench feed differently here as I wasn't getting any tench fizz at all but every forty minutes or so I would receive a very tentative bite, that every time seemed to be a crucian , but always resulted in a screaming reel and a chunky tench battling it out with me all over the swim.
I might not have been getting anywhere near the target for the day but as far as I am concerned catching tench on a float close in is about as much fun as you can have on this fair isle on a day like this in my opinion. The condition of these fish as well is a credit to Godlaming Angling society as everyone is perfect and fighting fit, which considering the popularity of Marsh farm is a real feat. The size of the fish I was catching was pretty mind boggling too, with an average of four pounds plus and some easily over six pounds. Even without any crucians involved just travelling down to Marsh Farm is certainly worth it when fish like this are on offer all over the complex.
I never did catch that crucian from Marsh farm, but a few days later I was back on the crucian hunt in my home county of Warwickshire. This time I was fishing the lunar scape crater that is Snitterfield reservoir. Traditionally Snitters, as many people call it, holds a stock of old stalwart crucians that have lingered in its depths for years. A little while ago the controlling LAA began a stocking program. At first a few native fish were extracted and a small number of young born of them were released along with their parents back into the pool, but more recently an injection of new blood was added and batch of spritely newbies were added and I was keen to go back and see what was going on with the crucian population.
Having heard of large bags of crucians being caught I was hoping it wouldn't prove hard to tap into the golden vein. Snitters never changes much apart from the fish populations which seems to go up every year. I used to use maggots when fishing here but nowadays maggots can't even get halfway down to the bottom there's that many fish. Unusually this venue has a habit of producing small tench. These tiny bars of soap were introduced along with the most recent crucians, but unlike other venues where small tench just disappear until they are over a pound, these tiny green menaces have been caught constantly since stocking. The little buggers do great impressions of crucian carp by giving tiny lift bites and circling fights. Between the tench and the silvers I couldn't keep a bait in the water long enough for a crucian to find it.
I persisted though and pushed on fishing through the tiny tench and silvers until finally not long before I had to leave the float did a little lift and I struck into a lovely little crucian that was quite literally ten times smaller than the last one I caught, but certainly was the speck of gold I'd been after.