The hybrid season has arrived again, finally warming up enough to target the coarse fish, and Andrew Wolsey joined me as usual. As part of a pact made several years ago, I offer the benefit of my experience on this water, for what it’s worth, and he pre-baits an area for the two of us, a partnership that has worked well over previous seasons. I should explain that Andy lives close to the venue which makes it easier, but I am always grateful for his commitment.
With air temperature on the rise, light winds forecast and several evenings of pre-bait introduced, it was time to test the water, so to speak. Accurately dropping the feeder into the zone, it was soon obvious there were plenty of small fish present. Despite several grains of corn or large bunches of maggot and caster on a size 10, these voracious youngsters still manage to engulf the bait, and so begins the numbers game. Roll the sleeves up and wade through the juveniles until something larger enters the arena. It is no hardship really, as it serves the purpose of giving the specimen hunter something to do, introducing particles regularly, and also honing the casting skills for accuracy over distance. On many occasions, accuracy can be the key to success when fishing the feeder.
Having lost count of the three inch conveyor belt, Andy hooked into a proper one, nudging the scales round to 1lb 10oz. It was heartening to see our first decent hybrid of the year, but there should be so many more. It’s a sad fact that we now have fish-munchers on this patch and its killing the stocks. A switch to worm on the hook produced a better stamp of fish but nothing near our target specimen size of 2lbs+.
Masses of tiny, frothy bubbles appeared on the inside line of the swim, and for now, a change in tactics was called for. This had to be the tell-tale giveaway that one or two Tench had cruised in, an irresistible opportunity for me! Some chopped worm mixed with ground-bait was quietly catapulted over the disturbance, and allowed to settle giving ample time to set the float rod up. A waggler locked in place with float rubbers on my trusty Shakespeare Superteam float rod allowed all the shot to be placed three inches from the hook and rest on the river bed. This will help to get the hook-bait (two worms and a caster) through the small fish, but also give that fantastic and visual “lift-bite” should a fish be tempted.
Within minutes of the bait settling, the float lifted, text-book style and I was attached to the dogged, arm wrenching power of a summer Tench, and this is why they are my favourite freshwater fish. Such a stunning species, always a docile creature in the landing net and yet an exciting box of fireworks on the hook. The disturbance in such shallow water scattered any further feeding “Tincas” with all tell-tale bubbles now gone. It was worth dropping in some more chopped worm and keeping my eye on the inside line, which I did, but nothing more came of it. A fabulous interlude, but back to the Roach/|Rudd hybrids.
With constant and accurate feeder tactics, I finally managed to break the specimen barrier with a “scraper” two pounder, and soon after, another. Two in one session isn’t bad going, but unfortunately so far removed from the glory days and this water’s real potential, given a fighting chance and some proper protection.