Monday, 21 May 2012

Big Pit Tench - A Burning Itch

The tench pit has finally awoken and the tincas are moving and feeding. A couple of weeks ago now, Martin had a fish, and then in the next few days reports came in of more serious catches made, tench banked in the kinds of quantity and quality that made a return the next Friday evening a certainty.

The bright orange belly of Martin's tench

I was less concerned about banking lots of tench or even large tench, just more concerned about breaking through and actually landing any fish whatsoever, be it bream or tench, and of any size. My fortune here has not been so good lately, in fact this lake, though I love to fish it, has never once been kind to me. Last year I made four trips catching just two fish. This year so far I have made six trips, lost two really heavy fish, but banked none.

There's nothing especially unusual about runs of blanks when fishing pits, is there? You may turn up and fall straight into the right peg on the day and land seven or eight fish, or land in the next swim along from someone else who's busy emptying the slot machine, while you go utterly fish-less. The fish can be that localised, all gathered upon some feature or other, and not moving off till they are all caught should someone chance upon them, or going uncaught should no-one pitch a bait exactly where they are to find them out.

I like that. The unknowable nature of large gravel pits is alluring. However, the experience can become something of a hair shirt, should a run of missed opportunities and small disasters befall the angler who's decided to tackle them but keeps returning for more punishments of the same kinds. My shirt itched like mad. I had to burn it...

We shared a spacious peg and I chose the right hand side of it. Sharing pegs is an interesting experience. Invariably, one angler has all the action whilst the other goes without. Even when I was a boy, which was when I always seemed to be sharing with someone (and then with one, two, three, or even four others!) it was always one who got the majority of the bites. One always had that sweet spot, the place where the float would land and dip every time, and all the friends would crowd into that sweetspot, inch by inch, till it was a fluorescent thicket of bobbing floats. Then it would all go quiet, and we'd blame the fishes departure on the rising sun.

Martin baited up a spot fifty yards out, but I chose to fish both closer and further, to find fish there knowing that should Martins bait becoming a site of interest, that I would simply cast on top of it too, like any boy would. However, if his left hand side should be the sweetspot, then I was knackered, should my right hand side prove itself, then he was knackered. Such are the risks of sharing a swim.

The principle pleasures are that you get to chat incessantly. Which is a good thing when things are very boring otherwise. The principle difficulties are that a hectic session with powerful fish tearing about within yards of the bank, can quickly become a cats cradle of tangled lines and crossed rods. I remember last November sharing, what is really a one man peg on the local canal, with Andy Lewis, Danny Everitt and Lee Fletcher at my 50th birthday zander match. We caught now't on eight rods between us all, so it wasn't a problem. It was hilarious though!

Almost warm, dirty grey and breezy. Perfect weather...

Nothing happened for ages. Then Lee Fletcher turned up on a recce after work accompanied by his mate James. Both fish the pit weekly in the tench season. So it was once again, four in a peg. When my buzzer sounded out on a liner, everyone visibly jumped toward the rod. Boy anglers...

Always fishing.

The first run came to my right hand rod just before dark. Hoorah! But I was careful not to pussyfoot about this time, and had that tench, near bank, in short order. In he came, and over the wire he slid to the safety of my capacious net. At last, a fish from this from this bloody-minded pit.

Another another run came shortly after but this time the hook pulled early. It wasn't till we were just about to pack up that I recast for the last time and as I was hanging the bobbin, noticed that it wouldn't stay still.

I thought I'd managed to catch the line under my foot or on my clothing, but then it became clear that line was spilling into the lake as a fish tore off with the bait. Tench number two was hooked, and duly banked. Terrific. That was the end of my bad fortune.

A seventies-style-serious-specimen-angler-special. Look down lovingly upon the precious fish, as if it were the baby Jesus himself you're holding up for all to see. Avoid flash, look serious.

When I got home I downloaded all the pictures. Hilarious stuff! Flash on modern compact cameras is a disaster when taking pictures in complete darkness. You can't see a thing in the viewfinder so it's a bit of a guess where the subject is, so lots of pictures are badly framed with bits cut off. The damn things flash before they flash too, which makes people do one of two things. Stiffen up, or apparently, nod off. I'd far rather the flash just went off unannounced and I walked around blind for five minutes after, but with a half-decent shot in my pocket.

I love the smell of tench in the evening. Smells like...victory

Well, neither tench was especially large, but both were very welcome indeed. And about bloody time n'all! I burned my hair shirt too. It's there as a little pile of ash, back of swim, where dog walkers can tread it into the mud. 

Good riddance to it, itchy thing.

PS. Martin returned next morning whilst I went hunting silvers up the cut, and he had a further seven fish off the bait laid down the previous evening. Nice work!

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