Spawning Means a Switch to the River

So with the on-set of the traditional fishing season I planned my regular trip with my mate Craig to Frensham Big Pond. Fishing the ‘first night’ of the season for the Tench is something we have done for many years and we have had some real bumper sessions in the past with the Tench being relatively easy to catch; if in the mood.

However, this year the weather has been hot leading up to the 16th and with the water temperature slowly rising it meant the Tench had other things on their mind.

The reeds that line this beautiful lake offer perfect sanctuary for spawning fish and as the sun slowly rose over the Surrey hills they started to explode into life echoing the sounds of crashing fish going about their business.

In the next couple of hours the spawning activity increased and with that our spirits dropped. This normally spells the end of any fish feeding, but one of Craig’s rods burst into life and he managed a nice plump 6.02 lb Tench followed shortly by a low 5 lb fish. However this proved to be the end of any further action and we decided that it was best to let them be and come back for a go later next month.

A nice plump 6 pounder for Craig

Not wanting to give up so easily, and anyway, with the river season now open we decided to give our local River Blackwater a go. After a spot of lunch and change of tackle it wasn’t long before I was flicking out a piece of bread flake on a light ledgered set-up to any passing Chub that might be on the look out for an early season snack. The secret to this type of fishing, as I have mentioned before, is to travel light and keep very stealthy. Wearing polarised sunglasses makes spotting fish easier and it wasn’t too long before a couple of Chub came to the net saving a blank on the day.

Saving a blank on opening day

A week later three hours on a different section of the river was enough to give me my fix. Again the weather was hot and clammy, but I managed to find some Chub under a tree sheltering from the rays. 

Small gap between the weed

Switching from bread flake to pellet produced an instant bite that snagged me in the low lying branches of the tree. Retrieving my terminal tackle and replacing the damaged line gave the swim enough time to settle. I was sure there was another chance. This proved to be the case as the tip swung round within seconds and this time I managed to guide the Chub into the waiting net. Although smaller than the one I lost earlier I was still happy with the end result.

Happy with end result

Time is Right but Time is Tight

It’s happened again. Same time every year. I start off with every intention of dedicating more time to my spring fishing but the reality is, time has beaten me again!

You see, in my line of business, this is the busiest time of year and coupled with some family milestones in May and June, it has meant time for fishing has been tight to say the least.

Anyway, after that little moan I can recap on what has happened in the last four weeks.

The last days of April saw me spending a few hours on my local gravel pit after the Tench. This has been very enjoyable over the previous few weeks and this day was no different.

Setting up in a narrow swim fishing Maggot Feeder on one rod and Method Feeder on the other, I managed two fish. 

Maggot Feeder with Worm Hair Rig
Method Feeder with Mini Boilie
Four Pounder to the Worm Maggot Feeder
6lb 12oz Tench

Both caught using worm hair rigs with maggot and chopped worm in the feeder. Fishing no more that one rod length out meant I was also able to loose feed a few maggots accurately over the the spot.

Mid May saw my mate Craig and I head up to Oxfordshire on our annual visit to fish for Tench at Linear Fisheries Hardwick Lake.

This is always a very enjoyable couple of days, mainly focused on the social side of fishing, but always serious about catching one of the lakes largest Tench. This year was a little more challenging than usual but I managed a Tench to 7:08 lb and Carp to mid double. Losing what felt like a bigger Tench in the weed was frustrating, but when faced with fishing this type of weedy gravel pit, loosing the odd fish can happen.

Carp are always possible so tackle has to be up to it
Target Species 7lb 8oz

Tackle and bait selection was similar to the approach used at my local gravel pit and I will write a separate blog about this in the near future.

Needless to say hair rigged worm with chopped worm and groundbait in the feeders was the winning combination again.

The last few days in May found myself and the family travelling down to Cornwall to celebrate my mothers birthday. It was an opportunity to get out on the boat and dust off the lure rods. Again, the window of opportunity was small and the boat was full but we did enjoy ourselves getting into the Pollock. Sadly no Bass were located, but it was very enjoyable to see Henry get the first fish of the day. This set the tone for the next couple of hours.

Henry starts off the fun with first fish
Pollock All The Way
Great Day On The Boat

With the 16th of June only round the corner I am looking forward to getting onto the rivers and hope that my busy work and social calendar opens up for me!

Time For Tench

As the days gradually get longer my attentions switch to Tench. So equipped with feeder rods I head to a local a gravel pit lake that holds some of the intended species. 

One of the modern ‘problems’ of fishing for tench this way means that there is a chance of Carp being caught. They tend to be the dominant species in most gravel pits; well certainly in my area of the country. 

Now I am not averse to catching the odd carp, as Carp fishing made up nearly 100% of my fishing for over twenty years. But it does mean your tackle has to be strong enough to cope with landing them, especially if a lot of weed is present. This means most of my gravel pit Tench fishing is angled for using a pair of 1 3/4 lb test curve rods and 4000 size bait runner reels loaded with 10lb monofilament. 

Typically in April the water temperatures are still quite cool and I generally opt for a minimal feed option, as opposed to an all out heavy partical approach. This means Groundbait Method feeders with hair rigged mini boilies or Maggot feeders with hair rigged maggot or worm. These feeders are fished in-line and cast every 20 minutes to start with and then, after a couple of hours, every 40 minutes. This means there is enough feed in the swim to attract and encourage the Tench to feed, but not too much to fill them up and bring the Carp in.

Arriving at the lake at just before 7:30 I spent 20 minutes looking for signs of fish, such as rolling or bubbles. There was a little Carp activity around and eventually saw what I thought was possibly a Tench rolling 30 yards out in one corner of the lake. Then another was spotted shortly after the first sighting giving me enough confidence to try the corner swim for the day.

Before setting up the tackle I prepared some groundbait for the feeders and put the kettle on. I was settled and fishing within 30 minutes and counting down the time before a recast.

I wasn’t expecting early action as it can normally take some time to get enough groundbait out there and it can often be difficult to get a bite at all at this time of year. It wasn’t until after midday that I started to get the odd line bite indicating that something was in the swim. Shortly after 2 pm the right hand rod bite indicator rose to the rod but and the line tightened to the baitrunner. I lifted the rod into a fish and felt the tug tug of my first Tench of the season.

First Tench of the Season

My first Tench of the Season was a 4lb 8oz male caught on a white popped up mini boile with Groundbait Method feeder.

Pleased I had got off the mark, it wasn’t long before I was into another one. This time 4lb 2oz and another male fish to the mini boilie. Then 20 minutes later the left hand rod indicated a fast take on the worm rig. Just as this was being netted the other rod registered a bite and I found myself into another Tench. As mentioned earlier being prepared for Carp meant that I had a Carp landing net also set up and it was this that was used to land this second fish.

Two at Once 5lb 7oz and 4lb 10oz

Sitting back in the late April sunshine I was enjoying another cup of tea when the boilie rod indicated another bite. This proved to be another male Tench of 5lb 4oz. Again, just before 6pm and this time on the worm rod, I was into what felt like a heavier fish. This was confirmed on the scales at 5lb 15oz. A great way to finish the day.

5lb 15oz A Great Way To Finish The Day

So, for the record, six Tench to just under 6lb. With the two biggest falling to the worm.

Great start to the Tench season. Can’t wait to return.