Mixed results this month as the waters seem slow to wake up; Spring hasn’t really sprung as I would have liked, and I am still waddling around the sodden banks in an assortment of winter clothing. It still feels a long way from the thermos flask taking its summer break. Still, nothing ventured nothing gained, in my humble opinion time fishing is time well spent, even if I’m blanking!
03.04.18 Cheshire Mere
An afternoon session, my second on this Cheshire mere since the rivers closed, and part of the early phase of my Spring/ Summer Tench campaign. Last months initial foray was a frigid and futile experience with a water temperature of 5C and a bone chilling breeze, but today I felt slightly more optimistic about my chances. It was overcast but there was definitely a slight hint of spring in the air, the ducks were bickering over territory, the trees were full of buds and the daffs were out in force. However, with a water temperature of 6.5C and the lake seemingly devoid of fish activity I was quickly brought back down to earth.
I fished maggot feeder on one rod onto a small plateau of 11ft surrounded by water of 14ft depth, the second was a worm rig fished to an overhanging tree in 11ft of water, allegedly a known hot-spot. Unfortunately the fish weren’t aware of that fact and the highlight of the day were 2 slow but sure lifts of the bobbins, presumably passing carp oblivious to my lines, and somewhat though provoking considering I had back-leaded and presumed they were flat on the bottom. That was it apart from a couple of plucks on the worm rod, all told a disappointing outcome to a promising day. I resolved to try a different venue next week, my reasoning being that the improvement in air temperature should have a quicker effect on shallower water; I had somewhere in mind but it doesn’t have the Tench potential of this place, maybe I should try for a carp?
10.04.18 Cheshire Flash
As previously mentioned, after last weeks blank, some thought was put into this choice of venue, since the upturn in the air temperature wasn’t having the hoped for effect on the deep Cheshire mere I will be targeting for most of the close season.
This long narrow water, known locally as a ‘flash’ is the bi-product of the subsidence caused by salt mining. They are quite common in Cheshire and are generally quite shallow, so I was banking on it being warmer. In fact it was around 7.5C which was pleasing.
The depth was a fairly even 4ft all over the flash and there were few features of note, so the one big overhanging tree was like a magnet to me. First I needed to do some negotiating with a couple of carp anglers opposite, I fully expected them to be fishing across to the feature, but they were really nice lads and had no objections to me walking round to the far side and fishing next to the tree. I’m not a big fan of long casts and fancied my chances of controlling and landing a carp from a potentially snaggy area were far higher if I was fishing at close range. I use my barbel set-up for carping and have never had a problem with the fish I hook. I think the 3lb test carp rods are really for long range casting and I much prefer the margins where 2lb test is more than enough.
After a quick lead around I couldn’t find any depth changes and the bottom felt firm so I catapulted a patch of hemp and a few micro pellets just off the tree and under-armed my boilie and rubber corn to the hotspot and left it to its own devices, with the butt close to hand knowing I would have to be on the rod fast should I get a take.
I had a maggot feeder rig already set up from last week so with Tench on my mind I lobbed it out 30m to the right, put both rods on the alarms, then sat down like a crouching tiger waiting for action!
An hour later I had landed 5 bream to 5lb on the maggot rod, and after scraping the slime off my kit once more I decided to forgoe the pleasure and swapped it for a second carp rod down the right margin, close to the reeds in 3ft of water.
An absolutely glorious sunset was underway (see header photo) when the tree rod went off like a train, I was on it like a snake, gave it plenty of side-strain and once away from the tree it was plain sailing, a common of 11lb. Only small admittedly, but I have been struggling, so it was very welcome. With the bream it was a decent afternoon, capped off by the wonderful sight of a barn owl patrolling a hedge line just 20m away, lit up fluorescent pink by the epic sunset…magical!
13.04.18 Cheshire Mere
Back to the search for Tench, this time I headed for a swim I haven’t fished before and found 13ft of water at 30m. a bit of leading around didn’t reveal any major shelves or depth changes so I just stuck to a comfortable distance, and with the aid of marker elastic I clipped up for accuracy. A couple of hours into the session and my first Tench of the season fell for the red maggot rig….only to spit the hook just under the rod tip. Such is the clarity of this water I had a good view of the fish before disaster struck and somehow the loss didn’t seem so bad. I estimated it to have been around 5lb but who knows really.
Soon after away went the maggot rod again, this time I played it like my life depended on it and felt uncharacteristically nervous. I was a relieved man when it finally slid into the net so I weighed it, despite knowing it wasn’t anything special for this water. Still, a nice fish at 5lb8oz and because it was my first of the campaign I took a picture for posterity. So nice to finally get off the mark.
Just as night fell and I was starting to pack up my second of the session arrived, again on the maggot, slightly smaller but no less welcome. I settled for a mat shot and didn’t weigh it, but was quietly satisfied with my lot as I made my way home.
20.04.18 Cheshire Mere
After catching a couple last week it came as a bit of a shock to go back to square one with a disheartening blank. It was a lovely breezy, sunny day and the water temp had risen to a most promising 13C, so to say I was looking forward to it was an understatement. While having a short walk round looking for swims I came across a lovely big carp tearing up the shallows looking for leftovers from a presumably recently departed angler, which gave me even more cause for enthusiasm.
I won’t bore you with the details of this sorry blank but the bailiff informed me that half a dozen tench were caught by an angler at the far end of the lake, and to really add insult to injury a carp angler 150m to my right had a couple within plain sight, while I kept working my swim and watched motionless bobbins all afternoon, waiting in vain for the cry of the Delks.
It was all a bit mystifying, especially as I was in a swim that really delivered for me last year, and I fished the same in-line feeder rigs and red maggot bait which were successful last week. Maybe I should have moved, but it was the age old quandary, last week the fish came on at dusk and I had built up my swim expecting the same, so just kept holding on in expectation.
I will just have to put it behind me and try again next week, but be more willing to move in search of Tench instead of expecting them to come to me.
27.04.18 Cheshire Mere
I couldn’t let last weeks blank stall my Tench fishing so I climbed back on the horse and returned to the same water, its wasn’t a difficult decision as the place really got under my skin last season and I find myself drawn back to it. I headed for a different area I hadn’t fished before and again there was no sign of fish activity, so in effect it was chuck it and chance it. A light but deceptively cold breeze blew in my face and it rained consistently for the early part of the afternoon; it was still very un-spring like and I was glad of my fleece and waterproofs.
I had a lead around and found around 12-14ft of water over a reasonably solid bed at 35m and little discernible change in the topography of the bottom anywhere in front of me, so I stuck to this comfortable distance and fished the usual inline maggot feeder with red maggots as bait. This was about as much as I could reasonably discover with just a straight lead.
On my left was a large bush protruding over the water and I found at least 14ft at the end of the end bush; the shelf must have been virtually vertical to go from 4-5ft near the side to that depth just over a rod length out. I decided to fish a straight lead just past the end of the bush, and by casting from the far right limit of my peg I could get my bait almost in front of the tree. My thinking was that the constant winding retrieval, and recasting of the longer range feeder rod wouldn’t disturb the margin swim as much if it was fished as far to the left as possible. I double back-leaded to ensure the line was pinned down just in case I had to bring a fish in on the other rod in a quite constricted swim between the bushes either side. In the end it didn’t matter a jot as I didn’t have a solitary peep all afternoon from that near swim; I dare say something would have come over the nice bed of feed in the depths of the night, but I would have long been home by then.
The maggot feeder rod however, after a long period of inactivity, finally sprang to life at dusk and produced 4 Tench in 5 casts, a brace of 5’s and 4’s, and as suddenly as the action began, after the 4th fish it ceased just as abruptly. Apart from one battle scarred warrior they were all handsome looking fish and boy, they didn’t half fight! Coming up through 14ft of gin clear water I could see them boring for the depths over and over, and these were only modest in size, but on appropriate gear they are fantastic fighters pound for pound.
My theory is that the Tench haven’t really switched on yet because the water temperatures are still relatively low and are just feeding for a short period each day, in todays case around an hour, which leaves anglers with the conundrum of whether to stick it out in a seemingly barren swim in the hope of just catching a feeding spell, or to up-sticks and chase the fish. Today by sticking put, I had something to show for my efforts, unlike last week.
Hopefully the weather will really pick up now and I hope May will bring the same Tench results as last year. Considering I had never fished for them before I did well and caught a couple each time I went. More of the same this year please!!