I took the opportunity to have a bit of a change with the seasons tench fishing this week, due largely to the opening up of a very old, very mature overgrown pool offering the chance of catching virgin tench on the float. This pool is connected to a historic tench water that is no longer accessible and contains the same original strain tench which have been supplemented with a few extras from the main lake. There are also a few odd small carp and silver fish but the bulk of the stock is made up of quality tench which are rumoured to hit 8lb.
Tactics for the day were to be a mix of modern and traditional, one rod fished with a bolt rigged maggot feeder on an alarm to one side and float fishing the other. Now despite owning my first centre pin for a good couple of years I have only used it for trotting on the rivers and not managed anything significant to give me a good pull so I was hoping today would change that. And for a bit of nostalgia I had also rigged up with a proper goose quill float to fish lift style.
Setting off at 3.30am saw me arrive lake side at not much after 4, two guys were already there so I left a good gap between us and dropped into the next but one swim along. My plan had been to fish both rods but on looking around the lake I just couldn't bring my self to launch feeders when it looked so promising for float fishing. But after fishing close in by the reeds with not a sign, even a fizz from the tench I decided(or should I say the fish decided for me) that the feeder had better go out into the jacuzzi like activity that was going on in the middle of the pool.
The second rod had been out about 20 minutes when the alarm signalled a bite and tench number one was soon in the net, a scrappy male around 3lbs. Then over the next hour or so I lost one to a hook pull and one just fell off as I picked the rod up on a screaming run. The activity died down a little and things went quiet for an hour or so and the float also remained still. I had decided against putting any ground bait in as these fish are not used to anglers baits so I stuck to feeding maggots, casters and hemp over the float and just maggots in the feeder.
Around 7am I had two more screaming runs on the feeder and again lost them both, one of which felt a good fish and I was now cursing my look or rather the hooks! I use very few barbless hooks as most places I fish do not insist on them but this pool does. Been short of time last week meant I could not get to the only shop in the area that sells the hooks I use(korum expert in case you are wandering, also available in barbless), so I had opted for another pattern from my local. Clearly they are rubbish and will be going in the bin.
By 8am things were looking grim, I had still not had a bite on the float down the margins and the feeder line seemed to have gone quiet too so on with plan B. I had brought along some of my CSK ground bait I have been testing and decided to mix some up and put 3 tangerine sized balls over the area I had been float fishing, By now I had also changed the hook on my feeder rod to another pattern but I only had quite large ones with me. To get around the problem I threaded a fake maggot up the shank of a size 10 drennan super specialist hook and added 2 real ones and tbh it didn't look too bad and the fake maggot took the weight out of the hook anyway.
Around 9am with the sun rising fast and the wind dropping less than an hour after introducing the ground bait a patch of tiny bubbles appeared in the swim so I promptly wound in and put on a fresh bait, it had not been in the water 5 minutes when the float buried and I missed it! I re-cast and what happened next was like something out of Mr Crabtree goes fishing and is in fact, despite all my years fishing and catching a few on the lift method the first time it has happened to me. I was watching the quill float along side the reeds when a patch of tiny bubbles appeared around it, the float shook slightly before dipping, then rising slightly a couple of times. It almost disappeared under the surface before it sat upright, half out of the water at 45 degrees before shooting under. The strike was met with the sound of not a screaming clutch, but a screaming ratchet. Proper old skool magic.
As I was returning that 4 pounder the feeder rod screamed off again, this time though the new hook held and another stunning looking 4lb plus fish lay on the mat. I got both rods sorted and cast out and within not ten minutes the same thing happened again on the float rod. This time though the fish put up a more substantial fight, the feeling on the pin very different to what I am used to. I managed to keep it out of the reeds either side and luckily as it took a dive for the near bank it went straight in the waiting net. Not quite 6 I would say be well over 5, turned out to be the best of the day and I'm not 100% but I think it was a male too.
Despite more bubbles coming up on the float line I had no more action, the sun was getting hotter and by 10.30 I was starting to think about packing up when the alarm on the other rod screamed into life once more, again though the new hook held firm and another 5 pounder landed on the mat. That though was the end of the action and I packed up at 11 as the pool had gone flat calm and the fish had stopped fizzing.