Tench and carp feed despite gale force winds and rain at Kings Pond

April 9, 2022 at 1:01 pm

Last week a hail storm forced me to abandon a fly fishing session and this week my only opportunity to fish was on a day with a forecast of showers and wind gusts up to 50 mph. I decided that the only place to give protection from the elements was Farnham’s Kings Pond, where the wind would be broken by a thick stand of willows behind me. Or so I thought. Since my last visit, the willows have been trimmed back and thinned out, with the wind blowing directly across a large lake. I had also got the wind direction wrong with it coming over my right shoulder. Not ideal. Two very cold looking anglers were already there and neither had had a bite. The temperature reading in the van had been 5 degrees C and I could not see myself staying long in these conditions, not even bothering to put my keep net in, as I thought that a blank was on the cards.

I found a swim thirty yards down from the second angler and set up my pole to fish over the shelf into five feet of water, twenty feet out, with  a 5 BB antenna float bulked to 18 inches of the hook with a single No 1 shot as a tell tale weight six inches down toward the hook on the bottom. This rig fished with the antenna riding through the waves like a submarine periscope without disturbing the bread punch bait.

Feeling that I was unlikely to stay long, I only mixed up a small amount of ground bait, coarse liquidised bread, ground carp pellets, ground hemp and a sprinkle of strawberry flavouring, adding water to compress firm balls. I bracketed the float with four balls of feed and hung onto the pole, sinking the top section, as the gusts threatened to pull the pole from my hands. Although there was a strong tow on the surface from the  wind, the float remained stationary. After ten minutes, the float dipped under a wave, then appeared after another. A bite! I lifted the pole to see that the 5 mm punch of bread was gone. In again and the float still showed an inch of antenna. Strike! Contact. A rattle at the end of the pole was a small roach, which lifted clear of the surface, then flew off with the breeze before I could reach it. More missed bites and dropped roach called for a change. I went up to a 7 mm punch, pulled the bulk shot down to the hook link and added another three inches to the depth.

The lift bites from small roach following the bait down stopped, but so did the bites. I put in the last of my feed tray and studied the float. It held down and I lifted as the elastic came out. It was a decent fish, that was slowly becoming aware that it was hooked. Then it was off, racing across the pond, until the pull of the elastic proved too much and it turned back at speed trying to burrow into the bank further along toward the angler on my right. Glimpses of the float gave me an idea where it was. It broached further out, briefly seeing a deep bronze side, before it was gone again. The wind was gusting as I held the pole high trying to direct the powerful fish toward my landing net, but it dived under to my bank again. The pole was still at 6 metres, with 6 metres of elastic out. I was fighting the wind and the fish, while the landing net was being blown away from the fish like a parachute. At last it all came together as the wind eased, a mirror carp was on the surface and my net slipped under it.

The size 14 barbless hook dropped out in the net and I considered myself fortunate to land the barrel shaped bundle of muscle, following such an epic battle. A quick weigh in at over two pounds and I lowered the unmarked mirror carp back into the pond.

After a reviving cup of tea and a sandwich, I mixed up another tray of feed, ready to start again, putting a couple of balls around the float. The small roach were still worrying the punched bread bait, lifting the float, but being almost impossible to hit, with the buried pole tip slowing down the strike. The float held under and I was in again for a few seconds, as another carp powered away across the pond, stripping out the elastic, only for the hook to pull free. Adding to the brutally cold wind, rain began clattering against my thick waterproof jacket, but I was dry within my cocoon, looking out on the foaming pond. It was grim for a while, but the clouds soon passed, better fish were in the swim and I was confident of another waiting to be caught.

A classic lift bite popped the float up, then slid under and I lifted into solid resistance that gave way to a pounding run that ended with a skimmer bream flapping on the surface. Breaking the pole down brought the skimmer close, but it flashed about in front of me, not ready for the net. This is when you lose them, the hook easily pulling from the soft mouth, but I followed every movement with the pole, until the skimmer lay on it’s side and I scooped it up.

Not a big fish, but worth catching. Skimmers can come up in the water after ground bait and I shallowed up by six inches, moving the bulk shot further away from the hook to give a slower fall of the bait. More missed bites, small roach and no skimmers.

I added depth and moved the bulk shot back down. First cast in the float submerged with purpose and the slow movement of a big fish was pulling elastic from the pole tip. This was not a carp, the runs were shorter and in all directions. I brought the pole back and detached the top two sections for better control, but this fish was heavy and hugging the side of the bank in front of me. I needed more leverage to pull it away to open water and added the two bottom sections again, seeing the golden flank of a big tench boil below the surface. The heavy 12-18 elastic was doing its job, the hook was holding and we were both getting tired. The surface boils increased and the landing net was ready, when it swam my way. Phew. Success!

The hook was in the top lip and came out with just a twist. Considering the number of rolls and turns during the fight, it is amazing that it stayed on. I now tried to get a photo of the tench on my lap, but it was not playing ball at all, the one above being the most successful of several attempts. In the net, the scales read 4 lb 8 oz, before I lowered it back into the pond. A flash of gold and it was gone.

Dropping straight back in, the float cruised away and I was in again. A bigger tench this time testing the elastic as it swam relentlessly toward the other angler, who I now saw was playing a monster of his own. Mine turned back to open water, boiling on the surface, while I extended the landing net against the wind. The elastic sprang back. This time the hook lost its grip. I looked toward the angler on my right. He had lost his fish too.

Conditions were getting worse and when I lost another carp fighting wind and fish, I decided to call it a day. It was not pleasant, there would be other opportunities. My neighbour, a local, had been using two rods, a feeder over and a waggler down the inside, plenty of hemp and pellets bringing five fish, a small carp, two tench and a pair of brown gold fish. A lesson for next time, more hemp. As usual I had not deviated from the bread punch.

A black cloud was gathering as I loaded up the trolley, fighting the head wind to get back to the van before the deluge, leaving the trolley in the lee of the van, while I scrambled in through the side door with the pole. What a day!