Tench among the showers on the bread punch

June 6, 2020 at 2:44 pm

Cooler weather with promised sunshine and showers saw me pay my first visit since Lockdown to the Farnborough and District owned Shawfield lakes this week. Still under strict Covid-19 rules, the club is operating limited access to it’s members, only allowing a maximum of fifteen anglers on site per day, booked through the Club Secretary. So far this has worked well, with the gate code changed daily. There was a no return policy of 48 hours, but this has now been opened up to allow anglers to return after 24 hours, although social distancing and hand sanitising at the gate is still required.

Last year I fished the big lake with bream and tench of over 5 lb on the bread punch, that stretched my pole elastic to near the limit and was keen to try the small lake, which was an unknown quantity as far as I was concerned, although the Secretary informed me that some big tench and decent carp had been coming out recently.

Arriving at midday the wind was blowing in strong gusts, but the surrounding trees offered a sheltered spot and I set up a 4 x 16 antenna float to a size 16 barbless hook to fish the 4 foot deep lake, although my plummet picked up fine stringy weed from the bottom and decided to fish 6 inches off bottom with only a single No 8 shot between the hook link and the bulk shot at 18 inches from the hook.

Knocking up a damp mix of heavy liquidised bread and ground fish pellets, I fed an area seven to ten metres out in front of me and put a couple of balls in close beside an attractive looking clump of lilies on my left. While still sorting myself out, the first of several heavy rain showers swept across the lake and I made a quick grab for my waterproof jacket, although the main burst was over by the time the jacket was on.

First cast in alongside the lily bed, the float sank away and I steeled myself for a decent fish, but a small rudd had managed to cram the 7 mm pellet of bread down it’s throat, needing the disgorger.

More rudd followed, some much smaller, then the float sank purposefully away from the lilies and the elastic was streaming out of the pole, as the golden shape of a good tench tumbled beneath the surface, turning away toward trees on my left, and getting snagged on the bottom. Pointing the pole toward the snag, I hoped that the tench would swim free again, which it did, but the line stayed caught up and I pulled for a break, expecting the weaker hook link to go, but I lost the lot, the Stonfo connector pinging back and hitting my typing finger with a whack that still hurts. Ouch! An occupational hazard of pole fishing.

Fortunately the Lockdown gave me plenty of time to tie up plenty of pole rigs and a duplicate was sitting waiting in my box, a quick connection to the Stonfo and I was fishing again. Now knowing that the snag was under the trees, I concentrated on the area in front and fed another ball, once again the inevitable rudd attacking the 7 mm pellet of bread. I decided to switch to a smaller 5 mm punch to get as many rudd out of the swim and into the keepnet as I could, swinging them in until the float rotated, bobbed and sank. I was into a tench again, a short run, a tumbling fight followed by another run toward the island that was stopped by the heavy 12 – 18 red elastic and the fish turned back toward me. Sliding the pole back and breaking down to the top four sections, I let the tench wear itself out and guided it into the net.

I noticed that this fish had a damaged pectoral fin, but there was no sign of infection and after a quick weigh in with the landing net handle removed, I carried it round to the next swim and released it. An otherwise perfect specimen at 3 lb 12 oz.

A small jack pike now came into the swim, snatching one of the better rudd from the hook and briefly hanging onto another, causing panic among the greedy shoal of rudd. The swim went dead and I went back to the 7 mm punch, putting in another small ball of feed over my float. After the constant action of swinging in the small rudd, it seemed a long wait for the next bite, which lifted and slid away. Another rudd!

My disappointment didn’t last long, the float bobbing and cruising off with another good sized tench, this dark one charging all over the lake, before coming to the net and weighing in at exactly 3 lb.


I now took the opportunity to have a cup of tea and a sandwich, while the last of my bread feed was mixed up and put out in front again, balls breaking up as they sank.

The rudd returned, followed by the 3 lb jack pike and I was back on the 5 mm pellet catching rudd, when a slow steady sinking of the float saw the elastic out again and I was fighting another tench that made off toward a bed of lilies mid water to my right, it’s black fins breaking the surface, when it turned back. The elastic compounds its pulling power the more the fish pulls, the hook link to the 16 barbless keeping hold.

There had been another burst of rain when I hooked this 4 lb 8 oz lump, but the sun was baking hot on my back by the time I landed it. This looked a much older tench than the others, but boy did it fight.

The sun was drying my bread quickly now, the thin rolled pieces curling up like British Rail sandwiches once out of the shade, becoming difficult for the rudd to swallow. They were small, but entertaining, it being easier to bash a few out, than to watch a static float.

Once a big fish comes into a swim, the small stuff usually make way for it and once again a classic tench bite had the elastic out in pursuit. Slow at first, then an explosion of power saw a golden tench heading for the island, while the pole was held high. It turned to the left, where I’m sure it knew where the snag was and I put on full side strain, bending the pole, waiting for a crack from the 30 year old carbon fibre, but the trusty tool stood up to the punishment, with the fin perfect tench soon in the net.

This 4 lb 4 oz beauty was the last of the afternoon, packing up shortly after at 4:30, probably the ideal time to start tench fishing, but with a Lockdown Zoom quiz lined up for the evening, the building rush hour traffic was waiting.

Small but perfectly formed, these rudd will soon be worth catching.