Monday, 17 June 2013

Canal Tench — Unglorious and in Vain

From whatever age I began to fish for tench I've always held that the first day of the season, the 'Glorious Sixteenth,' must be reserved for them and them only. Whenever that age was, it was very long time ago and in those days the close season really meant something to anglers because they couldn't fish at all and so the end of it truly was cause for celebration, not just a long past-its-sell-by date marking the end of a rather eccentric but typically British silly season. 

The only reason we can't fish rivers March through June is because of the hilariously absurd catch twenty two situation where scientific evidence is required to scrap that license exclusion but cannot be got because anglers must fish rivers at that time to provide the evidence but are not allowed to. So far as I'm concerned the term 'close season' no longer has currency because the season for coarse angling continues throughout the year without stop except where the water moves of its own accord. A nonsense — and if anything nowadays it is the 'non season.'

Anyway, I digress before I even begin. I still do go tench fishing to this very day on the sixteenth of June. Yesterday was no different but the squally weather was horrible for tench fishing how I like it (which is dead still and flat calm) at midnight of the fifteenth so I decided instead to go when the weather seemed to be heading for perfection, which was midnight of the sixteenth. 

I cast my line at the last second of the day and shouted 'Hooray!' but unlike the past when a whole lake would erupt with cheers and fireworks and whatnot, there was no one around to share the moment with but Oscar the dog.

It was a beautiful quiet night though and inky black too because the street lamps of the lane behind were extinguished for the first time in memory and thin high cloud masked the moon and stars.

I expected bites immediately, but sat there expectantly watching the dull red glow of a handmade night fishing float for the first three hours without so much as a sniff of one. I knew they'd come though, they always do where I was fishing.

Just before dawn the red tip finally made its way under, I struck into what I really thought would be a tench, steeled myself for the cut and thrust, but got only flap and plod. Nevertheless bream are often followed by tench in the dark hours, and so I cast back to the same spot and sat back to await the first tinca of the new 'anti-non season.'

The bite when it came came fast. Just seconds after I'd sat down I was up and at it, but once again, a slab. Ah well, this wasn't the plan at all. Sure enough, the next cast barely had time to cock before it was away and under. I felt the same sluggish resistance for a second and then it was off the hook.

Sunset at sunrise on the Coventry Canal

And that was pretty much that. The bites ceased as suddenly as they'd come — three in the three minutes it takes to land and unhook two bream and lose a third, but only three in the full six hours. I stayed on to see if light would bring the tench around but they never showed. My 'Glorious Sixteenth' was nothing but wholly unglorious and in vain.

Not that it matters much nowadays when there's another day as glorious, tomorrow...

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