A Heady and Cold Start to Spring

A Heady and Cold Start to Spring

After a terrible winter, health and computer problems plus the technical problems with the site, there has been an annoying but unavoidable gap in my diary entries. Hopefully, that is now behind us and so I am starting again as from my first spring session last week. I shall be reporting fortnightly, starting with the last two weeks of April.

With only one day to fish, I decided on a trip to a water holding some very big tench with the intention of fishing in a traditional manner with large lobworms coupled with a method feeder. I had decided on this approach for two reasons. First, I hadn’t intended to be fishing last week as I had work to do at home but when the opportunity came for a day off it was too good a chance to miss. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get maggot at such short notice, which is my preferred approach for spring tench, but I had a plentiful supply of good lobs in the bait fridge. It would be a good opportunity to revert to a method that has caught me lots of very big tench in the past. Second, the water holds a great bonus in the shape of perch of a high average size. If the tench didn’t fancy my lobs, the perch might.

I was in place at the crack of dawn and set up three feeder rods with Stonze weights on the point to act as method ball holders, above which were short four-inch hook links of 8lb Gamma fluorocarbon to size 8 The Hook fished in helicopter rig style. The hooklinks were adjusted between interference fit rubber beads so that the bait would sit adjacent to the method ball. The mix was my favourite Bloodworm and Maggot Crush, mixed with water containing plenty of molasses as well as a pint of dead red maggots from my freezer.

The start to the session was frantic. I had just got all three baits cast and was preparing the first cup of tea of the day when I heard a strange buzzing sound. Quickly, I realised that it was a baitrunner going ballistic; I had neglected to turn the alarm on! With line whistling off the reel I struck into a heavy fish heading offshore at a rate of knots. It didn’t’ take me long to realise that this was a big perch and not the tench I was targeting but as it approached the net cord I had thoughts of a possible four pounder. Just as it sagged in the mesh, another rod was away and I quickly put the net plus perch safely in to the margins to strike into this second fish. Again a big perch was the culprit and I soon had two lively specimens in the landing net together and chaos all around me. When it was sorted, the fish were confirmed as 3lb 9ozs and 3lb 13ozs; what a cracking brace of fish to kick off the new season with.
After that frantic opening, which demonstrated the value of being there at first light, things went quiet until mid-morning when I somehow missed another screaming run on the middle rod. Another two peaceful hours followed and then, around midday, I was playing another big perch, which pulled the scales to 3lb 7ozs. What a day! Three perch over 3lbs makes for a great day’s sport in anyone’s language. It could have been even better, though, because in mid-afternoon I inexplicably pulled out of another good fish; it had been a very different kind of bite though, with lots of dithering before a slow drop back. I never saw the fish, however, so am left to speculate as to what it was. Hopefully, I hadn’t lost a big bream or tench.
That was the end of the action, although I only fished until just on dark. For an off the cuff session it had been a roaring success and no mistake. I just love big perch.

Perch brace 3lb13 and 3lb 9

Clonking perch of 3lb 13ozs & 3lb 9ozs

Last week I headed down to Linear fisheries in Oxfordshire for some spring tenching, April usually being a good month on the complex. When I arrived in mid-afternoon, though, the bailiff told me that the previous two days had seen the sport fall away to nothing after a couple of night frosts. So I had got my timing all wrong, soon demonstrated by the bitingly cold northerly wind. Still, I was there and was going to make the best of it. I set up on the west bank of Oxlease where a substantial bush to my right took the sting out of the wind. Once the bivvy was up and I was in my thermals it was quite pleasant.
The afternoon flattered to deceive as the sun came out strongly and for a couple of hours it was pleasantly warm. But a clear sky warned me to expect a cold night and I wasn’t disappointed. It was bloody freezing! I had prepared the swim with particles only as the tench there seem to not respond to cereal feed, my mix being the simple one of hemp, two pints of casters and about four pints of dead red maggots. Hook bait on two rods was helicopter rigged red maggots and the third two hair rigged rubber casters, all presented on size 14 The Hook. As usual, casting weight to the swim at forty yards was provided by Black Cap feeders. I was fishing where the depth of 8ft further out began to slope up to six feet. With no bottom weed to worry about I could present bottom fished maggots without problem, so used real maggots on the hook. Where I need to pop baits up over bottom weed or possibly cope with nuisance fish or perhaps crayfish, I have no hesitation in using rubber maggots. Today, however, there was no need to.

The first action came at 8.00am next morning when I did actually manage to catch a tench, only a male of around 5lb it’s true, but a tench nonetheless. With a good frost on my bivvy, I counted that fish as a bonus! It was then hours before anything else occurred, when I missed a real screamer. Cursing, the feeder was refilled and sent out to the same spot. Within minutes, it was off again and this time I connected. Moments later, I was landing perhaps the smallest pike I’ve ever caught on rod and line. I doubt it weighed more than 12 ounces! It didn’t stay my smallest for long though as it must have gone to fetch its younger brothers. In the next two hours I had two more micro pike, each no more than four ounces. Perfect little predators although the tiny terrors knackered two hook links!

The second night was even colder than the first and I was even blessed with hail storms and snow showers, hardly tench weather. But, amazingly, crack of dawn saw another 5lb male tench in the net. My hands were blue with cold by the time the fish had been returned. And that was the last of the action. I was due home by mid-afternoon and packed up at 11.30am. The session had hardly been one to write home about but two tench in those conditions was a fair result. Apparently, not much else came out while I was there. I saw nothing landed and the water was packed, as usual, by carp anglers who all seemed to be struggling.

Best of luck with your fishing and I’ll be back soon to tell you about my fishing in the first two weeks of May.

Tight lines, Tony.

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