A “chip off the ol’ block”
As I write this blog, Alice Cooper comes to mind. “Schools out for summer” he screeched in his hit single, and don’t I know it! I have three wonderful children whom I’m very proud of. Sara is the eldest and has out-grown me and ready to fly the nest, while Matthew disappears into his bedroom that I now call “the crypt”, sniping Germans and Russians online via the wonder of X-Box. This leaves Lucy, my youngest, who still loves family adventures and wants to go fishing through-out the summer holidays. It’s like listening to Bart Simpson, “can we go fishing? Can we go fishing? When are we going fishing? I want to catch some fish!” With the continual bombardment, I finally relented.
I suggested an over-night camping trip, with rods et al, and this put a cheesy grin on her tiny freckled face. With everything packed into the jeep, including Lucy, we headed to a venue in search of tench, a species dear to my heart and king of all freshwater fish, in my opinion.
As an active “brownie”, Lucy helped with the STi bivvy and bed chairs etc, thoroughly enjoying this mini-adventure.
My pre-rigged Razor carp rods were soon ready for action. I chose three areas to pre-bait, but kept this to a minimum, with six balls of ground-bait each, accurately catapulted alongside marginal reeds and lilies, allowing Lucy to choose a mark and rod of her own. Usually I would quiver tip or float fish, being a great deal more visual and enjoyable in pursuit of tench, but as we were only an hour from sun-set, it would be carp-style on this occasion with attached PVA mesh bags of selected “goodies” and bite alarms. Lucy didn’t mind what the methods were; she was busy serving cups of tea and sandwiches under the bivvy light! With all the gear in place and fed and watered, we settled down for the night, chatting away until my angling apprentice “nodded off” into dreamland.
PVA and maggots did the trick…..
At 1.30am, the silence and my slumber abruptly ended to the muted tone of the Delkim alarm. It was on my chosen rod, but I nudged Lucy and suggested she tackle this one. She sat up, still dreaming, lay back down and promptly fell asleep! Boots on, I stumbled into the darkness and eventually landed a three-pound tench, baited up through bleary eyes, cast back into the swim to the best of my ability under the circumstances and fell back into the sleeping bag, wondering which of the two of us had more sense!
As if only a few seconds had passed, but in reality, two hours, one of the alarms cried out again, with a repeat performance from my daughter, soundly snoring by this stage. Another small tench for the keep net, but at least, I thought she would see these ones in the morning. I managed forty winks until 5 am, when yet again; my trusty Delkims let me know something had taken interest in my baited hooks.
As if a sixth sense had kicked in, Lucy awoke bolt upright and fresh as a daisy. This was her rod that showed an interest and she was up and out of the bivvy like a whippet out the trap. She could hardly hold the carp rod let alone play the fish, but was determined to go it alone. The only interference I was allowed to offer was a little coaching from a distance whilst holding the landing net!
It was a struggle…..
It was broad daylight by this stage, with a beautiful sunrise as a back drop to the arching rod as the fish fought hard to escape, using every bit of weed and obstruction it could find. I had no idea of its size as Lucy was in control, but enjoyed the look of enthusiasm and determination on her face as she struggled to beat her first tench. With a little encouragement from me, she wound down and hauled the fish through the final weed barrier to the waiting net. Gob-smacked would be an under-statement, as the large tench with a belly on it like a poison pup, finally slid over the lip of the net and into safe hands.
Her cheesy grin spoke volumes, but I was still stunned into silence by this amazing fish sitting in front of me on the un-hooking mat. Quickly to the scales, she pipped the seven pound barrier, every inch a specimen and a catch of a lifetime for a nine year old. Never mind a nine year old, it would have been a personal best for a forty seven year old!
What a fish……..
We stayed on until lunch time and managed another fish each, before the blistering heat of the sun became too much and the tench obviously fell into relax mode. With the bivvy dried out nicely from over-night condensation, it was time to pack away the kit and load up the jeep, always leaving the rods as the final items to dismantle. There have been many occasions when a bonus specimen has appeared in the final seconds of the session.
However, this was not to be, and the Razors had to be reeled in and packed away for another time. Lucy didn’t mind, she was eager to get the big fish out for a quick photo session and home for a proper breakfast. The specimen tench was double the size of the others, and in Lucy’s little arms appeared huge. I think I will get her to hold all my fish for future photographs!
A great bag of tench with one superb fish…..
Our over-night expedition was a run away success. Some much-needed family bonding between dad and daughter, and a spectacular bonus fish for Lucy and the camera. The funniest part of the trip was on the way home. During our chat, and talking about the great capture, Lucy asks “Dad, how long did it take you to catch a specimen tench?”
“Oh, about thirty years I guess, why do you ask sweet heart?”
“No reason really, just that it only took me a couple of hours!” She innocently replied, or quite possibly, not so innocently!
How do I respond to that? My experience for what its worth, choice of venue, bait, tackle etc, etc. Of course, none of this was allowed to enter the equation. I just smiled and said sweetly, “yes dear, you definitely beat your old dad on this occasion” and enjoyed the warm feeling inside, for the journey home.