Darryn Stolworthy - April Tench

I’d done as much fishing as I could fit in at the back end of the river season without taking any time off work, and when it ended, I’d planned to work right through until mid April, when I would begin to target the gravel pits.

My first trip of the Spring was a social with Justin on the lakes at Bawburgh. The plan was to get there early afternoon, and fish through to the following afternoon. Well, it didn’t go to plan; I got held up at work, and didn’t get to the lakes until about 7pm. Justin was already set up and I was nowhere near organised, although I had managed to put new line on the reels the night before. All I wanted to do was get the rods out and relax! I soon had three rods set up on the method feeder and cast out about 40yards, where fish had been seen rolling while I’d been setting up.

The evening and night passed without any action. I didn’t really expect too much; the session was more about making sure I’d got everything in my kit for the coming weeks. Justin packed up late morning to go off to watch the football at Carrow Road. He’d bagged a couple of nice bream in the early hours. I fished on until about 4pm, having safely completed a blank.

I returned the Sunday afternoon, and fished the same area; I’d put a bit of bait in before I left the afternoon before., and gave it a few hours into dark, but never even saw a fish.

I didn’t get out again until the Friday. I was just going to do the night, and be away by 8.30, then off to Lincolnshire for a beer with a couple of friends.

I got to the lakes at about 5pm, it was quite busy; I suppose the nice weather we had been getting was enough to get a few people out. The area I fancied was off the island; the weekend before I’d seen a lot of fish there on the Saturday morning, and being quite a shallow part of the lake, and rather warm, I fancied it for a bite or two.

A quick drag around with the lead confirmed the bottom was clear, with a depth of about 7’; as I was only doing the night I didn’t put too much bait out; about 8-9 medium spombs of caster, maggot, hemp, pellet and a little bit of corn. I’d set two of my rods on the maggot feeder using the simple Korum heli kits with a short hooklink. The hook was a size 12 mixa with two fake maggots on a shortish hair; this was set about 6” above the feeder. On the other rod I had a 2oz in-line lead with a couple of fake casters, again on a size 12 mixa; this was fished with a slightly longer braided hooklink and a small bag of real casters.

I was properly fishing by about 6.30, recasting the feeders every 15-20 minutes, but didn’t get any action apart from bats bumping into the line for an hour after dark. Nothing happened through the night; I had a good night's sleep, but was awake before first light, and had the kettle on before I’d got out of the bag. Before the kettle could boil one of the feeder rods was away and 5 minutes later I had my first fish of the season in the net, a nice tench about 6lb. I put this back, had a quick recast with both the feeders, and returned to making my cuppa. It got to about 7.30 and although I’d seen plenty of fish rolling the bobbins didn’t move. I started to pack things away and get my kit on the barrow, and just had the rods and landing net left when one of the feeders was off again; a similar size fish was soon being released. I packed this rod away and was then about to pick up the caster rod  when the other rod was away. This fish was a bit bigger, about 7lb. As I was folding this rod up my remaining rod burst into life. As I was playing it in I was thinking this could’ve turned out to be a busy morning, but I had to go.

I had mixed emotions about what happened next. The trip home normally takes about 15 minutes, but the van had problems, and it took me about an hour. There was no way I could chance the trip to Lincoln; I’d rung the garage and they couldn’t do anything until Monday. Great, I had Monday off to go fishing and this was looking like a non runner. Anyway, I made a few phone calls, and  managed to get the van dropped off at the garage, and got myself and all the gear dropped off back down the lakes. I hoped the swim was still empty, and sure enough, it was.

I’d been away maybe 4 hours, but it didn’t take me long to get fishing again. The wind had picked up and it looked great for a few more bites. I put a little bit of bait out via the spomb and  changed the caster rod to the maggot feeder. I’d got plenty of bait and food and two full days ahead of me. Well nothing happened, not a beep, never saw a fish all the Saturday afternoon and evening. I had a feeling they would be back in the morning, so I waited until after dark and put a good bit of bait on the area.

I fished through the night, and had a line bite about 1am but no fish. I was well awake by 5 and had a recast on all the rods before the kettle went on; this time I managed to make the cuppa. Bang on 5.30 one of the rods was away and by 7 I’d had 3 more fish. Tony popped  in for a coffee just after then which was handy, cause I had someone there to make tea and coffee, and help with the flow of fish that were sometimes coming two at a time. He stayed until about 10am; by then I’d had 11 fish up-to 7lb ish. The swim went quiet for about an hour. Justin popped in; he’d been fishing elsewhere in the complex and he stayed until 1pm. Between then I picked up a further five fish. As the afternoon passed I kept recasting the feeders every half hour or so but there was no more action. I again waited until it was dark before baiting up. I put a further 6 pints of caster, hemp and maggot in the spot, had a quick clear up and got into bed.

Again the night passed without incident and I managed a pretty good sleep, about 7hrs. Once awake the kettle went on, I recast all the rods and I sat there expecting a bite at 5.30. It got to about 6.15 and I’d no indication,s, so I put a couple of spombs of maggot on the spot. I hadn’t quite finished reeling in the second of these and the right hand rod was away, and I soon had my first fish of the day in the net. I recast the rod and almost instantly the middle rod shot off. I picked it up and bent into what was probably a carp! It went charging off to the left, then turned and went all the way to the right, past the bushes, and kept going until the hook pulled! While I was reeling this in the marker knot on one of the other rods was disappearing into the lake! I got this in, another tench about 6lb. This mayhem continued for another hour or so. There was a little lull in the action about 8 where I managed to grab a cuppa! By then I’d had landed eight fish. I put a few more spombs of maggot out and it all kicked off again. At one stage I’d just just returned a fish and was in mid cast to clip up to my mark when another rod was away, I propped the rod I was holding up against its respective butt rest to keep the line out of the water and whilst playing the fish in on the other rod this one was away too, banging away like a chub bite! By 2pm the action had slowed considerably; it had been manic and I was able to have my first food of the day, I’d had landed 25 fish, lost a further 6, plus the carp!

By 5pm I’d had a quiet few hours and Tony turned up to run me to the garage to pick my van up. Before I left I stuck a further 6 spombs of feed on to the spot. I was back within the hour, cast the 3 rods back out to their spots and began to pack up. I had two more fish whilst doing this, including the best of the session, a biggish male tench of 7.11.

I hadn’t had a session like that for many years, 47 tench, mostly males 6-7 lb ,the biggest being 7.11. I’d gone through 1 1/2 gallons of hemp, a gallon of casters, nearly 2 gallons of red maggots, plus some pellets and corn. All bar one of the fish came on the maggot; I used the same three hooks all session, and they never appeared to dull. My reel line, on the other hand,was totally wasted.

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