Friday, 12 July 2013

Tench: Little and Large

Well, the tench are still calling me, to the exclusion of other species, so my apologies for the monotony of my blog at the moment.  I caught my first tench about fifty tears ago, and even now, when I have a tench on the bank, the sun shining onto its flank, I am still amazed by that green colour. Why does a bottom living fish need to have such fabulous colouration?  Anyway, I have had a couple of tench trips these last few days. But very different in their nature.  One to a recognised tench lake, the other to my Sunday challenge pond.

I arrived early, before the sun did, at  the tench lake.  The surface was half covered in the scum that accumulates in very still conditions, with it covering the far side of the lake from me.   Conditions during the previous day were hot and humid, and nothing seemed as if it would change.    I suspected that the fish would feed early, if at all, and concentrated on getting a baited area set up some fifteen or twenty yards out.  I chose to fish fairly light, with four pound line and 12 hooks ( small for me!).  Maggots, that ever reliable tench bait would be on the hook.    The first cast produced a bootlace eel, but the second fish was a scrapper, a very good tench of 6-10, which after only a brief journey into the lilies, was landed, photographed and returned safely.   A kingfisher flew past about this time, returning a minute or so later, speeding a foot above the water.   The light was still insufficient to show the electric blue of the bird, but its identity was obvious.
Three other, smaller tench were landed, and three lost over the next three hours or so.  One lost to the lilies, one to a hook pull and one to a careless angler from the past.  A few fish in this lake have damage to their mouths, caused by people who do not take proper care when unhooking their fish.   Consequently, what I thought was a hook pull was not. A small piece of tench lip remained on the hook after I reeled in, following the loss of the fish.  I must have hooked into a remnant of a lip.  Some say that carp anglers are to blame, anglers who care only for their precious carp.  I suspect it is more general than that, just anglers eager to get the hook out quickly, but not skilled enough to deal properly with a deep seated hook in a tench's tough lip.  I appeal to all anglers to take their time unhooking fish, and if they do not have the skill level needed, then they should stay with barbless hooks.   I had intentionally put out a few floating casters on the edge of the scum, and two or three carp were nonchalantly sucking them in. One carp, maybe a little over nine pounds, but under ten, came as a bonus fish, having taken my legered maggots.   It fought well on the tench gear, and I struggled for a while to contain it in a small clear area amongst the lilies.    It prompted me to try four casters, next time in, and another  slightly larger carp quickly took those, giving a reel screeching bite.  The baitrunner was overpowered, and the reel revolved rapidly in reverse as the carp scorched off towards the horizon.  It too was eventually played in the lily gap, but made a final and successful bid for freedom into the deeper stalks. Bites predictably dried up as the sun rose higher.

It's Ashes time again, and I wonder if, whilst sitting biteless, I should plug in and listen.  My memory has, so far, been unable to remember to  find the headphones and spare battery pack that came with my new-fangled mobile phone, and until I do remember, the test matches will remain well away from the lakeside.   Whenever I mention cricket, someone pops up and throws in the Brian Johnston commentary about "The batsman's Holding, the..."   You know the one.   But few remember the far more subtle, and far ruder comment made by  commentator Alan Gibson, who said 
"This is Cunis at the Vauxhall End. Cunis, a funny sort of name: neither one thing nor the other."   A very clever comment, and I forgive him the crudity. But poor old Cunis, I bet he has suffered from that remark.

But no headphones today, so I spent the biteless moments watching the great crested grebes.   A month or so ago they had 4 tiny chicks, which spent much of their time riding together on mum's back, whilst the male bird brought them an astonishing number of small fish.  The female did her guard duty with immense dedication, but did not fish herself.  A month later and the four chicks are

A Small Fish is Offered to the Piggy Back Chicks (Last Month)
four fifths grown.   The parents fish far less.  One chick has attached itself to each parent grebe, and defends that parent against all comers.   That includes the 3rd and 4th chicks, and even the odd coot.   Luckily the other two chicks are well able to dive, and although I didn't see them catch any fish, I suspect they are well able to succeed.   I watched a parent with two chicks last year on another water.   Again, one chick repeatedly drove away the second, thus getting all the fish for itself.   As the day progressed that parent bird joined in to chase away the other chick.  I suspect it did not survive.  I knew that adult coots kill some of their young, but had not seen grebes being less that perfect as parents before.  Better parents are the pair of resident mute swans.  For a month the cob has been chasing the mallards around the lake, with astonishing displays of aggression.   Even occasionally taking wing to chase the ducks.   The mallards are obviously not happy with this, but are easily able to keep well out of neck's reach.  The swan is not bright enough to realise that it is never going to catch a mallard, and is never going to drive them from the lake.  So it continues to chase ducks, and so remains a nuisance to all, including the anglers present. 

Things were different on the Sunday pond: a couple of herons jousted for position, but otherwise all was peaceful.

A Heron, Flying over the Sunday Pond.                                                                                                                                   .
  The young moorhens were very independent of the parent birds, rarely going back to them. Very outgoing despite being little more than half grown. I fished a tiny clearing in the prolific pondweed, casting a float into a clear space a couple of feet square. It produced a couple of three ounce tench, as expected, a mini rudd, a small bream and a twelve ounce mirror carp.   A second mirror carp of maybe four pounds ( nearly as big as they go in the pond) exited stage left into the weeds and was instantly lost. A second, a little smaller, shed the hook.   I have yet to see any tench over about a quarter of a pound from this pond. I was told that there used to be 2 or 3 good fish which spawned successfully two or three times, leading to the goodly numbers of tiny tench that I now see.   But, I watched three or four of these small tench chasing each other between the weeds in what I suspect was spawning related activity.  Maybe it was, or maybe the sun brought out high spirits.  most odd: I have always seen tench as being a serious minded sort of fish.

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