Strawberry loving tench and roach on a bread punch season opener.

June 2, 2023 at 1:32 pm

The month long close season during May at my local still water, Jeanes Pond, experienced a clear transition from winter to summer this year, heavy frosts at the end of April a distant memory, when the sun shone through morning clouds to reveal blue skies at lunchtime. The rapidly rising temperature gave me the green light to set off for a few hours fishing in search of tench today. Due to a recent self-inflicted injury, my mobility was severly restricted for a few weeks and I had to pressgang my wife into trolley towing duty, with the promise of sunshine.

The local council had recently installed an electric aeration pump, which has been running for the last three days to protect fish stocks during the prolonged dry spell, following the deaths of some of the larger carp.

I started off the session by mixing up half a dozen balls of groundbait, 50% liquidised bread, 20% ground hemp, 20% ground carp pellets and 10% of powdered strawberry flavouring, all damped down, then left to absorb the water. Having plumbed the depth, I put four tight balls along the edge of the lily bed, where there was four feet of water, followed by a 4 x 16 float rig, bulk shotted antenna float, with a 6 mm pellet of punched bread on a size 16 barbless hook. I dropped the float straight down into the baited area and watched it cock, lift, then sink as a decent rudd took the bread.

In again and this time the bait got through the rudd, the float settled, then slowly sank, with line following. A better fish, this time a roach.

This was a very slimy individual, a hard fighting summer fish. It made a change for the roach to be warm to the touch, unlike the ice lollies of a month before.

A couple more free biting roach made their way into my net, then a characteristic lift and bob, saw the float dive. Before I could say “tench”, I was playing one. It’s pounding fight pulled out the elastic, heading straight for the lilies. Putting the pole over to the left, I kept the pressure on and it turned and headed out toward the middle, raising the pole to slow the progress. My wife looked up from her book, while I let the tench tire itself against the 6 metres of pole. It was now rolling close to my bank and I had removed 2 meters preparing for netting, when the tench appeared on the surface and it was swept into the waiting landing net.

A deep barrel shaped tench, about 2 lb, with massive tail was looking up at me, the size 16 hook, just inside the upper lip. My first attempt to unhook the fish produced a strong head shake and a hook transfered to the landing net. Phew! I had landed this tench just in time for the bailiff to witness it.

Inpecting the hook, the gape had been opened out. I had been lucky to land this fish. I decided to put on a much heavier rig. My choice was a 2g antenna float, again with the weight bulked close to the size 14 hook. A single No 4 shot was 100mm from the hook as a tell tale and the whole rig was set 150mm over depth. This rig is supposed to be rudd proof, going straight down to the bottom, avoiding the swarms of small fish, the 7 mm punch  attracting  better quality roach.

The earlier clouds had now been burned off and I had to strip off my hoodie, while my wife searched out the shade.

Fishing is sooo exciting!

The bites from the roach took time to develope, slight bobs and lifts, followed by a slow sink.

Feeding roach were throwing up fine bubbles as they rooted among the groundbait, but another couple of balls brought more interest. Bursts of larger bubbles appeared around my float, the antenna lifted right out, then slowly sank. A positive lift of the pole, saw the tip bend over as the elastic came out, slowly at first, then faster as the fish woke up and headed for the safety of the lilies. This fish was much bigger than the first and full pressure, was bending the six metres of pole over its length. A boil at the edge of the lily bed indicated a turn of the unseen fish, as it headed towards open water at speed. My wife was back out of her chair, as I followed the fish, keeping up the presure. “What is it?” she asked. “I think its a carp, judging by this run!” I replied, hanging on. I had not seen the stonfo line connector yet and the float was another six feet beyond that. Hang on and follow the fish was all I could do, reducing each run with pressure from the elastic. At last the float appeared and I made a rapid removal of the lower two sections, before the unkown fish revealed itself to be a large tench, which was quickly netted.

Look at that tail!

The hook was soon out and a quick weigh-in took the scales just past 4lb, my biggest yet from Jeanes Pond.

I scraped up the last of my feed and put it in, hoping for more  tench. The sun was still beating down, not ideal, but this one had decided to sniff out the strawberry flavour, so why not others?

The roach were keeping me busy and were all goers, but the sun soon moved behind the trees, leaving my wife in the shade, who was now complaining of feeling the cooling breeze. She reminded me that we had agreed to go home at 5 pm. We were now into that just one more fish zone!

At 5 pm, this was the last roach, another clonker. It was time to go. It had been a busy three hours.

The bright sunshine had rapidly dried out my bread, requiring regular replacements from the bread wallet in my bait apron. The moorhens were very happy to receive my cast offs, as were the small rudd.

A busy three hours fishing.