Darren Stolworthy - Spring Into Early Summer

This spring was a total contrast to last year's; the fishing couldn’t have been any better. After I got back from my holiday I did a 24 hr session with Justin on a lake that was fairly new to me. The weather wasn’t particularly great, clear skies, no wind and very warm, with the added bonus of millions of mozzis. The session ended in a blank!
The following weekend was the TenchFsher’s fish-in on Bawburgh Lakes. I had booked the Thursday and Friday off work to make more of a session of it.

I settled into a swim on the middle of the island, near where I’d fished a couple of weeks before. There was a bit more weed here but after a couple of casts about with the marker rod I found a clearer area in 8’ of water. I baited the area with a mixture of maggot, caster, chopped worm and ground bait.

I didn’t fish the first night, I decided to get my head down and get up before first light but it wasn’t quite daylight when I had my first fish, a lovely tench of 6.14 and by lunchtime i had 5 more up to 7.9. All fell to the maggot feeder, fished helicopter style.
The next day started off much the same I’d had a few more fish by lunchtime, 8 in total including a surprise bream of 9.3. It was quiet again in the afternoon until around 6pm, when I had another tench of 6.8. Just after this I had a mad 20 minute spell where I picked up 3 more bream, two at 11.14 and a 10.5. All the fish were on the maggot feeder and I regularly topped the swim up with my spomb mix.
The lake had fished really well so far and nearly all the rest of the TenchFishers had caught fish.

The next couple of days were pretty much the same, plenty of fish caught, I ended up with 26 tench and 5 bream, I think we all had a few fish and a great get together.

The following Thursday I was going to fish the new lake. I had the Friday off work so was doing two nights. I arrived at about 7pm, had a quick look about and loaded the barrow with everything, I remember thinking...I’ve brought far to much stuff! Well, off I set and I’d probably gone about half a mile when I hit a tree root and BANG the tyre went on the barrow! Now I’m really screwed, still quite a way from my swim and nowhere near anywhere I fancied fishing. No way was I going to carry the gear to the swim and then have the hassle getting it all back to the van on the Saturday, so I decided to fish a swim halfway back to the van. It was dark before I got the rods out; I had contemplated just sleeping there and shipping out at first light.

I was awake well before first light, made a brew, and sat there looking across the lake, never even saw a roach fart. I wasn’t at all happy where I was. I thought, stuff this I’m better off at work, so by 4.30 I’d had all the gear packed away and ready for the 3 trips to get it all back to the van.

I ended up on Colney Lake that night, mainly because I needed a good night's sleep. I turned up at about 7pm complete with new barrow with puncture proof tyre - that wasn’t going to happen again. Had a quick lead around and soon had a bit of bait out and 3 rods. That was it, reeled them in at lunchtime the next day without even bothering the fish. I did however see a number of fish rolling in a swim the other side of the lake and thought I’d give that a go later next week.

The next week I did a 12 hour overnighter on Lodge Lake. I had nothing through the night but in the morning I’d just opened my eyes and was fudging around to light the stove when my right hand rod just flew off, that’s no tench! There was someone to my right, and I had to try and slow it down before I woke him up.
Despite flat rodding me, my 1lb1/2 rods did turn it in time and after about 15 minutes it was in the net, an upper double mirror. I managed a couple of 6lb tench before it was time to go to work.

The next 4 weeks was probably the best tench fishing I personally had ever had. I had decided to have a go on Colney where I’d seen fish showing the previous Saturday morning. It’s usually quite a weedy swim but after a bit of leading about there didn’t appear to be a great deal about. I was there for a couple of nights and was confident on getting some kind of action, there were fish rolling while I was putting a bit of bait out. I fished through the first night but nothing bothered me and after a couple of recasts with the feeders I had my first fish of 7.12. The next fish dropped off which was a little annoying because it felt decent but that was soon forgotten an hour later when I’d netted a couple of 9’s 20 minutes apart! 9.8 and 9.3, well pleased with that. Nothing much else happened the rest of the day.

The next day was very similar, I picked up 4 fish including a couple of 8’s to 8.10. I was due to pack up early on the Saturday morning and had to be gone by 10 at the latest. I had the barrow all loaded by 8.30 and just had the rods out when the middle rod burst into life and I was into what felt like another good fish. I netted the fish 5 minutes later, a very long, empty fish of 9.7. That was good enough for me. I didn’t bother recasting that rod and packed the others away too.

I was back down the lake the next day for a social with Justin, he’d got in a swim which was big enough for both of us and he’d been catching some good fish! The spot I had was really easy to fish, 30 yards out up to a weedbed, quite shallow 6’ which I wasn’t that happy about with the weather being forecast bright for a couple of days. But those thoughts were soon erased when I picked up three fish before dark up to 7.7. I reeled in at night because where I had my bed was too far away from the rods for me to be comfortable fishing.
I woke early and had the rods out before light, added a couple of spombs full of freebies and then total madness descended on the swim, for about 2 hrs we were constantly playing fish, many double hook ups and lunchtime I was still catching. I’d picked up another couple of 9’s one of them a huge male fish of exactly 9lb plus a couple of 8’s. During the afternoon it slowed a bit and by 5pm t had been quiet for a couple of hours when the left hand rod roared off, this fish felt totally different and it was a while before I’d got any of the line it had taken back on the reel. This fish was really angry, I could see it was another good male but I couldn’t get it near the net, eventually it did go in the net and I couldn’t believe the size of it, I’d never had a double figure male but this certainly looked it and it was 10.1 a proper mint fish too. Got some great pictures of it and slipped him back. I had one more chance that day and another good one of 9.4. What a day, surely tomorrow couldn't be anything like today!

I reeled in again that evening for the night. I was totally knackered, sleep was easy but I was up again before first light and then it started again! Fish of 9.1, 8.15, 9.15, 9.8, 9.4 plus a few smaller fish before lunchtime and then around 12.30 I was into a big carp, it took about 40yrds of line before it turned and swam back towards me, plodded around in the margins for 10 minutes until Justin expertly netted it first time. A lovely big common of 33.12, another pb for me. The day didn’t end there; I picked up a few more tench including another good one of 9.3. I put out another 3-4 pints of bait before I got in bed. Justin had packed up earlier and although I had moved nearer the rods, I still didn’t fancy being woken up during the night, and wanted to be fresh the next morning.

I had slept through my alarm the next morning and it was light when I cast out. There were noticeably less fish showing around the area and I remembered saying to Just that the fish we’d seen the previous evening seemed to be rolling away from the swim. I got the rods out and a put a couple of spombs over the top of them, and half an hour later I had another good fish in the net, 9.14. It was a lot slower than the previous two mornings and by 10am I’d added just two more fish. An hour later I recast all 3 rods, put half a dozen spombs on top of them and put the kettle on. Just as it boiled my right hand rod gave a couple of beeps and the bobbin kept twitching, so I hit it ,and this huge fish came straight to the surface and headed into the weedbed to my right. I remember seeing the massive tail sticking out of the weed, thinking Jesus, that’s huge! After a bit of persuasion it came out, but headed to the margin on my right where there was a snag. Lots of pressure from me kept it out and it was in clear water. I could see the fish and remember thinking, please stay on lol. Well it did stay on and on the mat I really did have something special. 12.3! A new pb. Nathan Long was good enough to come down and take some fantastic pictures for me. I had two more fish before the swim just died. I fished right through until 11am the next day but never saw another fish.

I still had four days to go of my holiday and thought I’d give Lodge Lake another go. After a couple of blank days and moving several times I finally got on some fish and the last day of my holiday I had crazy five hour spell where I landed 17 fish to 8.10.
The next couple of weeks I was back at work and just doing overnighters where I would turn up an hour or so before dark to find fish, put a bit of bait out and fish in the morning until I had to go to work. Between June 9th-17th I managed five of these sessions, landing 21 fish. 5x 9’s to 9.14, 8x8’s to 8.14. I’d had the most amazing spring in numbers and size of fish.
The next time I went was on Lodge Lake, I was late getting there but it was Friday and I had all day Saturday to fish! Unbelievably there was no one where I wanted to go. The swim was alive with fish! Same routine, put a bit of bait out and fished from just before first light. By 9 am I’d had 15 fish, including my 3rd double of the season at 10lb exactly, over the moon again.

I had the next week when I couldn’t get the rods out but I was back on Colney the following week. I was a bit earlier there than the previous few sessions so I got the rods out for a bit before it got dark and soon had a couple in the net to 8.3.
I cast out first thing in the morning, and it was business as usual. I picked up nine more fish including 3 8’s to 8.15 before I had to pack up.

The next week I carried on doing the overnight sessions. I managed four of these, and had 14 fish; most of the fish had spawned by then, but were still a good size, six being over 8lb.

14th July, my last tench session. I had a wander round the night before and didn’t see anything to inspire me to stay, so I thought I’d go home and get there before first light and have another look. A lot of the swims were busy with carp anglers so I had to look at the other end of the lake. I hadn’t been up this end all season but the first swim I stopped in I immediately saw fish rolling, not far out, about 30-35 yards. Having been back to the van to get my gear. I didn’t bother marking up. I just cast a maggot feeder out to see if it was clear on the deck. Happy with this I cast all three rods out with just a couple of spombs on top and waited. 10 minutes later,the middle rod ripped off and I had the smallest tench I’d ever caught from Colney, less than 2lb of it but it was a fish. From then until 9am I picked up a further seven fish, four being over 8lb. It had gone quiet but I was still getting line bites, so I kept topping the swim up via the spomb and feeders. At 11am I was about to reel my right hand rod in for a recast when it burst into life, no way was this a tench. After a good 15 minutes I finally got it over the net,only for it to power off around the corner. I thought that’s it, I’m not going to land this one. Well 10 minutes later it’s over the net again and this time it stayed there, a beautiful linear mirror of 31lb.

That’s where I drew a line under my tench fishing for the year. What a year; three carp including two 30’s, five bream to 11.14 and 207 tench, 36 over 8lb, 18 over 9lb, plus three doubles. I picked up 3 pb’s on the way. What a difference a year makes.
I’m having a few weeks away from the rods now and then it’s back to the new lake with no more puncture problems, fingers crossed!

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