A NEW BOOK NOW OUT. Targets set and achieved.

My third book, 'Targets set and achieved' is now complete and ready for sale. As the title suggests it reflects the past seven years of my fishing. Twenty different rivers where double figure barbel were caught, crucians and roach to near record size, perch, chub, tench and bream to make the mouth water. All will be in the pages and well illustrated with lots of colour photographs.

There is a 1000 copy print run of the hardback edition and a further 40 leather bound copies for the connoisseur.

Copies available from myself just email phlpsmith9@aol.com or ring 07980 394864 for details

Still a limited number of leathers available.

Alternatively use the web page http://www.philsmithangler.co.uk/ where you can order by Paypal or credit/debit card.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Roach fishing in Scotland

When Simon Ashton phoned to say he had got a 3lb roach from a Scottish Loch I thought straight away ‘I’ll have some of that.’  Having obtained the contact details off Simon I e-mailed the fishery and got details of the fishing and availability of weeks.  Once I had this I arranged the trip to suit the time frame available which turned out to be the first week of the river season, the 16th June onward.  In the meantime Simon had returned to the venue another couple of times and had built up a very nice list of big roach topped by five fish over 3lb to a very creditable 3lb-7oz.  We knew the roach would have spawned out by the time our trip occurred, but we hoped that each angler would get the prized 3lb target fish.
The group would comprise of John Found, Keith Joblin, and Warren Gaunt along with myself, there is a four angler limit on the fishery so we have the 48 acre lake to ourselves.   That sounds great, but this is very early days in the development of the fishery and in actual fact there are very few places to fish at present.  This will change over the coming months and seasons as Kevin McArdle, the fishery manager, gets to grips with opening up the wooded banks and tracks to create even more angler friendly spots. 
After the long journey where being a Saturday the traffic was manageable, we arrived around the 3:00pm time when the lodge becomes available to the incoming anglers and soon had all the tackle and goods sorted into the respective piles.  Some would go into the rooms and the rest was put back into in the car ready to move after the swims were chosen.  Shortly after arrival we were shown around the fishery and it is indeed a beautiful place to spend a week.  It was now that we began to realise the limited nature of the swims available and whilst John and I dropped into the swim that Simon previously fished, Keith and Warren took a tour further around the lake and found a shortcut from the road through the wooded banks to a swim that was to prove a critical choice.
                                                        The lodge for four anglers accomadation.

The lake level had been dropping over the previous weeks and now we would effectively be fishing off the lake bed and the shore line is made up of rock pieces of various sizes from small pebble bits to quite large rocks.  This leads to the first bit of advice – take a rod pod, absolutely essential.  The second essential is a weed drag and probably waders in order to extend the range of your throw when sending it out.
The swim John and I have dropped into needed a fair amount of dragging in order to make it fishable.  Once past the range of my throwing ability there was dense weed coming right to the surface and this can be seen in the photo of the castle between our swim and the lily bed clearly shown in the shot.  Meanwhile the other two lads had found that the area in front of their swim was almost completely clear of weed and no dragging was needed, the lucky sods!
Having driven an extra hundred odd miles to reach Coventry, John was quite weary and had decided to get a good night’s sleep so he left the swim for the lodgings about 8:00pm leaving me to catch on my own.  Having by now found that the swim was only about 2ft deep it seemed most likely that any fish holding up in the weeds would only come out at night and I was prepared to fish the full night in order to catch them.  I did catch lots of fish, but they were all small perch having taken a liking to my lobworm bait.  There is no mobile phone signal at the lake and hence I could not contact the other lads, but I could see the head torches moving about suggesting lots of activity and as it turned out they had seen mine and come to the same conclusion.  Late the following morning when we finally met to compare notes it seemed they imagined I was catching lots of roach.  This was because they were doing just that, their swim had quite a large shoal of feeding roach present and happy to take their offering.  For that night and the second night I could only watch as their total of 2lb plus roach grew to enviable heights whilst the total for John and me stayed at zero.
During the week prior to this trip I had an amazing run of luck in my tench fishing as indicated in the blog reports before this one.  As each successful day had passed I had related my success to John and he kept on repeating that I would use up my total allowance of luck and I should save some for this current weeks roach fishing, I obviously did not listen well enough to the advice! 
With the bright sunny days we were having and that shallow water in the swim I did take the chance to wander about the venue with my camera handy.  This came to a successful conclusion as I had the chance to photograph my first ever sighting of a red squirrel, this followed by my close encounter with a hare who was resting up in the sunshine.  I’m not sure why, but as I approached him in full view he did not move and I took photographs from about a 20ft range.  I then attempted to move slightly to the side and he did not like that as he bounded off at a great rate of knots.
                                                                A Scottish Red
                                                               The friendly hare.

John had agreed at the start of this session that two days in a swim with no fish would be a sign to move, they might come in later but it was too big a chance to take.  With the move in mind we got the boat out of the boathouse and set off round the lake.  This proved to be a bit down heartening as everywhere we looked we found weed going out from the margins for some considerable distance.  The lads had dropped onto the only clear area on the complete lake and were taking full benefit of the chance.   In the end we found an area off the so called island that because of the low water level was open to access from the bank.  This had weed in the margins for around twenty yards but then it was comparatively free of weed.  That did not mean clear of weed, but at least the odds were in favour of the cast landing in a clear area.  A few hours of dragging at least gave an area where the fish could be landed if we could hook one and get it into the bankside area, time would tell.  A mix of bait was then sent out in the Spomb, dendrobaenas, lobworms, sweetcorn and 10mm boilies, all proven roach catchers.  Lots of work to move and drag the swim but that first night was yet another blank.
                                                                         The 'island swim'
                                                                Getting the bait out.
John is not keen on night fishing and had planned to fish until 1:00am and then he would return to the lodge for the night.  The following morning he came back and within 15 minutes of casting out he caught the first weighing fish on the boilie, 2lb-8oz to at least give us hope.  Throughout the week catching fish was not a problem, but they were mostly the smaller samples of under 1lb, there seemed no way to select a bigger fish since the small ones took any bait we offered and we could only attempt to work our way through them until the larger fish came.  Then going into the Tuesday evening John took another two roach of 2lb-9oz followed by yet another 2lb-8oz beauty.  That loss of my lucky streak was really biting hard now.
                                                          Off the mark with a 2lb-8oz.

I struggled on and began to wonder when John took another fish of 2lb-10oz the following morning for although the results of the two other lads had slowed down, they were still to be seen getting the odd good fish, my luck just had to change.  Perhaps it had as at last I caught my first Lochnaw Castle roach of 2lb-8oz on the worm, hopefully the first of a number to come.
                                              And now I'm away with a 2lb-8oz as well.

Over the Wednesday night I took another two fish of 2lb-8 and 2lb-3oz both fish coming in a twenty minute spell as dawn broke but that seemed to be the end of the feeding spell as the day progressed without further action from the big fish.
                                                              2lb-8oz & 2lb-3oz brace.

We had been having very sunny weather since the arrival day when it had rained in the afternoon and evening, now the rain had come in as forecast during the night and then continued throughout Thursday with just a few short breaks in the downfall.  The rain had been annoying, but at least we had the breaks that gave the chance to bait up in comfort as the new forecast looked very bad and it lived up to the expectation.   During one of the breaks during the day I took my biggest roach so far with the scales showing 2lb-11oz.  This was a brilliant fish, but John quickly topped that with a giant of 2lb-14oz that set a new personal best for him, though he still sets his 2lb-10oz river fish as a better target.  With both of our fish coming during daylight I looked forward to the night with high hopes, the rain by now was continuous but that did not matter as long as the fish did feed, they didn’t and John came back next morning to find me with a dry net, well not dry but no fish in it!
                                                                                    2lb-11oz gem.
                                                            John's new pb 2lb-14oz.
Friday was not a good fishing day as the strong wind turned into our bank, with the rain being very heavy and being blown along almost horizontally.  With no bites coming our way we both decided to retire back to the lodge for a few hours to freshen up and relax out of the rain.  When we got back to the lodge the lads were already there and making early plans to retire from the lake as the water level was rising at an alarming rate.  I had planned to again fish overnight and finish early Saturday morning since although the swim was returning to one on an island with no bank access, I would be returning with the boat so no problem.  John had also already decided to leave the lake early and he took the precaution of putting on his chest waders, in the event lucky since the water had risen well above that of his wellingtons by the time he did return.
Convinced that we must be barmy to fish in such conditions we returned to the swim about 3:00pm and started fishing again.  At first it seemed a thankless task as the rain and wind hammered the shelter, then John decided the fish needed a helping hand so he poured out a cup of tea, no sooner done than he got a bite.  Not pleasant landing it but that was why we were out in the conditions and it felt so much better to have the reward for the effort, at 2lb-9oz it was the second of that weight he had caught and his sixth roach over 2lb.  With just four of these roach to my name I was very pleased when I took a fish of 2lb-13oz with the time at about 4:30pm, certainly making the extra effort worthwhile.  Then at about 5:15pm I took another roach of exactly the same weight even though it had looked so much bigger.  With six of the weighed roach each it came as no real disappointment when an hour later it was obvious that the lake was rising too fast for me to stay, the fishing was at an end.  Was our swim finally about to turn on with those three fish in short order, we will never know but it is a real shame we did not have the chance to find out.
                                            The last fish caught by the group 2lb-13oz again.
With the roach having spawned just a few weeks before our arrival it is quite possible that many of the larger 2llb fish would go over that 3lb mark.  With this in mind we decided to rebook the lodge for October, as well as a return next spring when the fish would be at their maximum weight.  In closing I am sure that the usual controversy as to the possibility of these fish being hybrids will raise its head in the near future.  In my experience where there are hybrids you catch fish, especially the smaller ones, that vary tremendously in eye colour, mouth position, body and fin colour, and fin placement.   Those caught on this venue are consistent on all these points and meet all the normal checks for true roach, I will be happy to continue to fish for them in the future on that basis.
One last note is that although we did not suffer every day, there are the biting midges here and hence don’t forget your repellent.


Thursday 14 June 2012

Tench from a new water.

Following the success of 52 tench in 5 days fishing a total that included two 9lb’s, three 8lb’s, and loads of sixes and sevens I decided on a change of venue for one last fling before the Scottish trip.  Staying in the local area I chose a new water to me but one with a bit of a reputation for the odd good fish, say 9lb plus but maybe a very rare double, that would do, but first I must catch my first tench from the venue.
                                                   Small but the first and always worth a photo.

Arriving early in the afternoon I set about choosing a swim and decided to fish alongside one of the many islands about the lake, little did I realise the problem about to rear its ugly head.  As always when approaching a new swim let alone a new water, I cast about with tackle that includes a hook in order to detect weed, no problem there the bottom was covered.  Not the new growth of one of the seasonal weeds that can cause a problem, this was heavy blanket weed that remains throughout the hardest winter.  Cast after cast was made, probably over thirty in total before I had located two spots that did not seem quite as bad.

With the swims sorted I could get the tackle ready and I would use the same gear that had done me so well over the previous sessions.  This would be one rod on a flatbed method feeder with artificial buoyant corn, and the other using an inline maggot feeder, again with a single artificial buoyant maggot topped off with two or three natural companions.
                                                Still a gravel pit but nice veiw.

Great weather for fishing, reasonably mild, flat calm, overcast, though slight rain came in the late evening and it poured down just after I packed up.  The lake itself gave a superb view as I waited for some action, that did not take long but it didn’t last very long either as a probable carp ran me quickly into a close-by bush lying in the water.  That take came on the corn and it also produced a roach of about 10oz.  Fortunately for my current run of good luck I also landed three tench on the maggot to a pleasing weight of 6lb-10oz, not bad for my first visit though it will not be the last.

                                                          6lb-10oz first day prize.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

A pair of monster tench.

With the recent success on the tench lake I thought it would be best advice to myself to return for another try, so after a one day break on Sunday I returned for yet another session.  The wind had turned 180 degrees from westerly to easterly and it had a definite cold bite to it.  Fortunately the rain had all but disappeared, even though it did try a little in the afternoon but not enough to be of concern.

Same tackle, same swim, and maggots for bait, working on my often quoted advice of ‘if it aint broke’ and so on.  I had arrived even earlier for this trip and although it is difficult for me with a 4.30 alarm clock call I was up and actually fishing by 6:00am.  It is always a question with tench as to the need for early starts as quite often the feeding spell will be more around the midday sort of time, but having lost one to a hook pull and landed the next by 7:30am I was pleased with the action so far.

Over the next three hours the tench came to the net in an orderly and regular fashion with nine landed and another good fish lost when I tried to stop it reaching a distant snag, the hook pulled, but if it had got there I would have lost it anyway.    With three of these tench going over 6lb and the best at 6lb-8oz it was a good day already so when the sport stopped at that point I was not too concerned.  Not long after this another angler dropped into the next swim along and he would be casting his baits to the opposite side of a known snag in the water, the same one that had lost me a fish.  When he began to catch I wondered if perhaps the fish had moved from in front of my swim to his.  With four tench to him and none to me over the following hours we came to about 3:00pm and my bobbin rose to the rod at last.  There followed a great scrap with the fish just not giving in, fighting all the way.  Fortunately she had kited in the opposite way to the snag and I had little concern about any problem that way but there is always the unknown.  The gods smiled and I eventually looked down into the net at what was obviously a very big tench.  With the Fox Digital scales flashing between 9lb and 9lb-1oz I was happy to accept the fellow anglers verdict of a 9lb exactly weight, target set and achieved!
                                                                         9lb exactly.

A couple of sixes followed that fish over the next three hours, and in the meantime the fellow angler and his companions left for an early tea in order to listen to the England match on the car radio.  At 6:20pm I got one hell of a surprise as the bobbin lifted and yet again I was playing a big fish, this one even stronger than the last and I felt sure it would be a carp.  The surprise was that it proved to be yet another 9lb tench, to be exact the scales held steady at 9lb-4oz, yet another pb for the venue.  I spoke with Leo Heathcote fishing on the opposite bank but his tackle would not be safe if he left it unattended so the photos were taken with the self-take option.  Just one more tench followed that and I packed up with 15 tench which included five sixes and the first brace of nines taken in a day as far as is known, what a result!
                                                          At 9lb-4oz at new pb yet again.
                                                                            Easy to identify

As I was leaving I stopped off at Leo’s swim and compared photos with his nine of a few weeks back and it seemed to be a definite different fish.  Both of my nines have a distinctive features making identification fairly easy, the first fish had quite a visual drop at the top edge of the root of the tail whilst the bigger of the brace had damage in the shape of a V within the dorsal fin, either fish will be known when recaptured.  I’m off to Scotland on Saturday for a week to try for the big roach that have shown up there, when I return I will try the tench lake again hoping they will not have spawned and perhaps I can improve on even these monsters.

Sunday 10 June 2012

A tench fishing bonanza part 2.

Following the result of the previous day as described in part 1 of this piece I got to the lake a lot earlier.  Although Rob had already got to the venue 15 minutes before I arrived he had kindly left the swim vacant even though he knew of my results, just for this one day mind you, tomorrow is open house on swims again.

The results of yesterday had suggested that the maggots out fished the corn about 2 to 1 so I had decided to fish both rods on the maggot feeders.  Again no extra feed would be used since this idea obviously worked the previous session, although I did not expect to repeat that result I was hopeful that just maybe I would get the big fish that I had possibly missed.
                                                           Drennan in line swimfeeders.

Today started more sedately in that it was probably a couple of hours before the first fish put in an appearance, I was not sure if that was just they were nervous with the number caught the previous day or the fact I had started a lot earlier.   In the event that first fish made it all academical since it was a new personal best for the water and when Rob confirmed 8lb-15oz it came as a double edged sword.  Nobody in their right mind can think that one ounce is a get deal, but this one ounce short of my target 9lb weight did make a difference far greater than its size.  That small individual quirk aside I was well made up with such a magnificent looking fish and thought that irrelevant of the results for the rest of the day it would have been worth the effort.
                                                      8lb-15oz pb tench for this water.

Of course I did continue to fish in the hope of even larger specimens that were potentially in front of me but it was not to be.  The sport was slow but steady as fish after fish came to the net, several more 6lb tench were landed and then yet again I hooked a big fish that immediately put the thought of yet another carp in my mind.  It would just not respond to the pressure I used on the 1.75lb test rods and that can be quite considerable.  Of course there would be only two possible options, it either came in or I would pull the hook, lady luck was watching and I did finally get it to come to my net, all 8lb-6oz of it.  Slightly smaller the previous big fish but a far better fight and yet again I fished on with a big smile on my face, definitely building up to be a couple of days to remember.
                                                                 8lb-6oz of powerhouse.

Towards the evening I landed a 7lb-11oz tench that really made the day as one of a nine fish haul, no carp this time but I am not fishing for them so that was no loss, with a total of 25 tench over the two days with three 8lb plus fish and a further three 7lb plus amongst them I retired well satisfied and looking forward to the next session after the big red eyed monsters.
                                                       At 7lb-11oz hardy a small tench.

A Big Tench Bonanza. Part 1.

Just occasionally ‘lady luck’ conspires to put us in the right place at the right time and over the last couple of days she has done me proud.  Of course I gave her a big helping hand in that I chose the venue and swim, made the choices as to tackle and bait but I still needed her help in the catching of the bigger fish.   The venue is a big estate lake that is well stocked with tench and bream of all sizes.  The problem on this water is that there is no way to sort out which species, bream or tench, will take your bait offering, and then no way to select the larger specimens of each once they have decided to accept your offerings.  That is where ‘lady luck’ comes into the equation and gives that little extra helping hand.

I had taken a nice catch of tench and bream over the Tuesday and Wednesday as related in my last blog but with the fish feeding well, although in tight areas, I felt I should take advantage of this window of opportunity.  Although I am now retired I don’t wish to fish every day, but it does give the chance to go whenever the conditions seem right as with the current situation, I missed the Thursday and returned to the lake on the Friday morning.

Although I had been arriving quite early on the water on recent trips, I decided to give other anglers the chance at their choice of swim and hence it was about 9.00am when I finally turned up on the bank to find just one angler there, most unexpected as it has been fishing so well.  I had already decided that should it still be available I would try a swim on the opposite bank to that used on the Tuesday and Wednesday and sure enough it was empty, ‘lady luck’s’ first move in my favour.  The next change I had decided on was that I would not use the Spomb to put extra feed out, I would instead rely on just that used with the two different rigs I would employ for my tench attack.

These would be the same as used on Tuesday.  A flatbed method feeder on one rig was coupled up with a Dynamite Green Lip Mussel method mix. I would then use a single artificial grain of red corn on the hair rig with the usual short hook length that I tend to favour for this type of fishing.   The other rod would be using the Drennan Inline Maggot Feeder, again with a 4 inch hook link and a size 12 Pallatrax hook loaded with a single artificial buoyant maggot and a two or three of natural red maggots. 

Probably by 9:30am I had two bobbins dangling below the rod just waiting for a tench to pull the line and give that indication of its interest, I did not need to wait too long before the maggot bait was taken by a fish that proved to be a 5lb plus female, a good start in that there were fish in the swim.  Just minutes later the other rod took off and at first I thought I had hooked a big tench as it powered away, but it went too far and was obviously a carp, I really should take up this carp fishing lark it seems so easy, just fish for tench and bream!  Once landed it eventually went on the scales after an unexpected interruption, it came in at a pleasing weight of 18lb-12oz definitely not the target but a great fight never the less.
                                                         18lb-12oz of Mirror carp.

 I was still sorting out the scales and the camera having left the carp to recover in the net when the line on the other rod took off and once struck I again wondered if I had hooked a big tench, but now I considered it could be a carp.  I had no need to worry, and as it slipped into the net to join the carp already laying there I could see it was a big tench.  It was quite hectic for a little while as I sorted out the unhooking and weighing of the two fish, regular returns to the water made sure neither suffered unduly for the experience and when I finally got to weight the tench it came in at a very pleasing 8lb-4oz one of the venue’s better fish at last.
                                                        A short and fat 8lb-4oz tench.

The day continued much the same with another pretty carp of 15lb-4oz landed along with several 6lb plus tench.  Two consecutive tench of 6lb-15oz and 7lb-1oz would have made a great brace shot but I was returning the fish as they were caught and the few minutes between those two stopped such a photo being taken.
                                                                   7lb-1oz of well proportioned tench.

                                                             15lb-4oz nicely scales mirror.

I finished the day at 7:00pm having caught 16 tench and 2 carp.  I could have fished for another three hours, no night fishing allowed, but I felt totally satisfied with my result up to then and I would be returning the next day to try again for those even larger tench known to be present little knowing what was on the cards for me.

Thursday 7 June 2012

A great time with big tench, bream and carp.

I am sure that like me you often leave home and you are going tench fishing,  or maybe perch fishing, perhaps a day after roach or bream, but how often do those plans go astray and you are lead up the garden path by other species than your target fish of the day?

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week were such days for me, I went tench fishing and did indeed catch some very nice specimens but it did not end there.  On the Tuesday it all seemed to be in my favour, got there about 6:00am and dropped into a swim with the wind blowing into my bank.  I had already decided to fish two totally different methods on the two rods I would be using.  The first rod would have a double hook rig with the maggot feeder on it and the usual short hook-link size 12 Pallatrax hook to carry an artificial maggot along with two or three natural maggots as well.  The second hook would have a couple of Dynamite shellfish 8mm boilies attached since I’ve had occasions where the tench have gone really well on that bait.   The second rod would be set up with a flatbed method feeder and the bait would be a single artificial grain of red sweetcorn.   Using these method feeders it is simple to embed the corn into the method ball by placing a layer of the method into the mould and pressing the feeder into it to get a nice compacted bundle.  Now you lay another shallow layer of feed in the mould again and placing the hook bait on top of this layer you compress the feeder into this and you have a slightly larger compact parcel that includes the bait inside it.  A big advantage of this is that it casts like a bullet and cannot tangle; it will also sit on the top of a weed bed to present the bait cleanly to your target fish.
                                                        Method ball with bait inside.

I was soon into the first fish of the day and this proved to be a small male, it is quite annoying to keep getting these little blighters where a 5lb fish is a good size and fights well, but those females are so much bigger.  That came on the method but when I hooked the next fish on the feeder rod I initially thought ‘this is the one.’  Then it kept on going, slipping the clutch like a wild banshee on a rampage and I soon realised I had hooked one of the lakes big carp.  The fish did put up quite a good show and with lots of water to go at it made good use of it, fortunately normal tench tackle is still quite sturdy and as long as I did not run out of line I could eventually land even the biggest of the lakes residence carp though at 21lb-4oz this was well short of that fish.  My silver bream fishing early this year had produced a 20lb plus carp, and now my tench fishing had done the same, best of it is I don’t carp fish, it is the only one out of all our coarse fish that I no longer pursue, even my pb English carp of 37lb came on tench gear with two maggot on a size 14 hook.
                                                                 21lb-4oz common as a bonus.

The carp had taken the white boilies and although I did take a further three tench on the maggot hook with the maggot feeder rod, it was the other set up that saw most of the remaining action.  I had noticed that this rod was casting its bait into an eel grass weed bed and I took care to keep within that area.  Tench after tench came to the bank, a 6lb-15oz fish was beaten by one of 7lb-8oz and then a 7lb-2oz went into the middle of these with the total tench for the day finishing at 8 fish.  That was quite a good day’s result, but it did not end there and in between the tench I took two sizable bream with the best one tipping the scales to 6lb-13oz, not my usual stamp of bream but pleasing never the less.   So with tench, bream and carp all hitting my net whilst on my ‘tench fishing session I realised that no matter what we might think we are fishing for anything can and usually will happen!
                                                                   6lb-15oz specimen.

                                                               7lb-2oz beauty.

                                                             7lb-8oz best of eight tench.

Day two saw me back at the lake to try again for the bigger tench that so far have eluded my efforts.  This time I went with the method feeder on both rods using the red corn as bait since this had proven to be so successful the previous day.  It was the same wind but noticeably warmer, the previous day having been decidedly chilly.  With heavy showers forecast I had put the shelter up and this proved a wise move but the fish seemed to take pleasure at giving a take right at the moment of the heaviest downpour.  Today followed the results of the previous day with both tench and bream coming to the net.  The tench topped out just short of the 7lb mark but the bream went bigger with two samples of 8lb-8oz and 8lb-11oz.   Pleasing fish since the water has not been known to produce double figure bream as of yet and these were spawned out fish capable of hitting that figure with the extra weight the spawn would give, maybe next year will see them do it.
                                                         8lb-8oz spawned out bream.

                                                         My best bream from this venue at 8lb-11oz.

I ended the day with four fish of each species and I left with that bigger tench still on my mind as I thought in those famous words ‘I will be back.’

Saturday 2 June 2012

The world of a tench fisher.

It has been a strange week with the start for me on the local canal at 4:30am hoping to catch one of those elusive silver bream.  It was mild, but I knew the temperature would be heading for the mid-twenties a little later in the day, by then I would be well gone since I only intended to fish until 8:00am.  My previous trips had all started later in the afternoon and the barges had been a constant pain until late in the evening when they generally stopped.  Today it was great, not one single boat had decided on an early start and my feed settled into the swim and stayed there.  Just a little of the general cloud with a few casters and maggots included was all that I used, this was then topped up with the occasional four or five extra caster/maggots just to give that falling bait attraction.  The idea was right and by the finish I had taken three bronze bream, four perch and a rudd, fair sport on the light gear but the silvers would have to wait for another session.

Then it was back down to the Reading and District water for those big tench that I hoped were waiting for John Found and myself to put in an appearance.  Reports were coming in of tench spawning on various waters about the area but although we looked there seemed no sign of that activity on this venue.  We had already decided to try a different bank and soon we were in place and fishing.  The weather was still hot with day temperatures around the 25C in the shade; fortunately there was some shade so I took full advantage of it although it did mean moving as the sun turned around and my shaded area moved with it.  The session proved almost as difficult as the previous one but at least this time I did land a fine tench of 7lb-1oz, not the target, but a step in the right direction.  The eel rod took just one fish of about 2lb-8oz so yet again a slight increase in weight and heading in the right direction towards my target for that species.
                                                                    7lb-1oz specimen tench

The ticket for the secret midlands tench water finally came so plans were quickly made and the following day saw me arrive on the bank just after 6:00am.  I would be fishing two rods with an artificial corn rig as previously described on one hook, and maggots on the other.  This second hook would include one of the buoyant artificial maggots to counter the weight of the hook as had occured with the corn rig.  By now we had suffered the fairly drastic temperature drop and the high point of the day was now more like 16C, comfortable but what effect would it have on the tench?

I soon found out that at the very least they would feed and it seemed that they had not spawned one this water neither as my first fish was a smaller sample but still carrying spawn and not at all fat.  The day passed pleasantly enough with the best fish of four being a male of about 5lb, a good scrap but not what I had hoped for.
                                                                 Nice male tench.

I returned the following day and this time being a bank holiday Saturday I decided to arrive early expecting a few anglers to be there.  Arriving at 5:15am I was first there and for a few hours I was alone.  By 7:00am I had caught four tench, but they were all small males, the baits had proven to be equal in that I caught two fish on each so proved nothing on the preferred bait side of the equation.  There then seemed a period of several hours with no activity, other anglers had appeared and they seemed to be doing just the same, then in the mid-afternoon the tench began to feed again and I quickly took a further three fish with the best going to 6lb-10oz.  These three all fell to the maggot but on so small a catch it proved nothing other than being of slight interest in the longer run.
                                                      6lb-10oz.  Best of 7 fish on the day.

That was it for another week, a good number of fish caught with a couple just about into the pleasing sizes.  Next week will be more of the same, but tomorrow I am at the Barbel Society Conference at the Hinckley Hotel just off juction1 of the M69.  As the first speaker I need to be on time but these tench sessions have got me into the early start mode so no problem there.  Tickets can be obtained on the door so maybe I will see you there, if not tight lines until the next blog.