Tuesday 18 June 2013

Tench and Bream

A slim 7 pounder slips back into the lake.
Late May: Tench: one of my favourite fish, and they always have been. Probably always will be.  There is something about their colour and that smooth muscular shape, a real fish shape that imbues them with that "must catch" essence that I am unable to resist, as well as a powerful fight when hooked.   They can be easy to catch, or, given a suitable water, they can be a nightmare to find and hook.  That green and the contrasting red eye will always draw me in and I have so far fished three different waters for tench this year.   One easy water with small fish did not hold my attention for long.  I would have stayed longer, had the crucians I was also catching, been pure crucian, and not part goldfish. Another water, rumoured to hold the odd tench did, and 4 trips produced 3 fish. A good result with one of the fish becoming a new personal best, despite being a long, slim, fit fish with no signs of any spawn in it.  Such are early season fish, especially after a long hard Winter's fast. 

The third lake is what I consider to be an easy water.  Not lacking some good fish though, as a number of fish well over 6 pounds soon demonstrated by falling to my baits.   But the predictability of almost certain catches soon paled with me, and the time was ripe to go and try a hard water, one which I thought might hold some good ones.

So I arrived at the lake, early, about 4am, tackled up, cast quickly and the lobworm soon attracted a small perch, and a second bite at the same spot was probably another small perch.  But to my left a fish rolled: obviously a tench, a majestically slow roll, barely rippling the surface.  Had I not seen the fish, the ripple could have been put down as a small roach.  Two or three other fish rolled, and so I cast to the left.   As another good fish rolled right besides my float, the tension mounted.   Two bites followed, long slow runs of the float, but both fish were missed. Inexplicably missed.  7 AM now, and all has gone quiet, but the day remains dull, cloudy but rain free, and so hopes remain high.
And so it was to remain, throughout the day.  No bites, little sign of fish, no carp jumping, nothing.  So I occupied my time watching the wildlife.  In the margins scattered over a wide area near to me
Massed Toadpoles
were a great number of toadpoles.   The tadpoles of toads are blacker and with shorter tails than those of frogs.   Also they taste dreadful, so nothing eats them.   As the day progressed, the toadpoles gathered near the very edge of the water, forming a huge black wriggling mass.   Thousands of them. I don't know why they concentrated so, as there seemed to be little food for them.  A foot further out was a feast of silkweed.  The tench remained elusive though.  I did see a couple of tench cruising above the elodea though, small fish of maybe three pounds, but tench, and in the right area of the lake.   As evening approached a roach took a bait, a handsome but quite dark fish of some six or seven ounces, and a prelude to an evening rise of fish. 

As darkness approached, fish started to roll with quite large splashes.  Tench , I was sure,  and lots of them over an area of some 30 yards square, within casting range but outside my baited area.  I was perhaps rather silly to think they were tench as it happens: for they were not.  Good big fish though, each trying to make the most surface disturbance it could, as it breached, and over a ten minute period, at least a hundred such fish showed.  They continued to roll but in reducing numbers, and I started to get bites.  Easy slow bites which I was unable to hit.  I finally hooked one briefly, and the line came back with a large scale on the hook point.   I now assumed carp were responsible, but was to be proved wrong yet again.  So amateurish of me, I should have known far better.  Finally, after at least half a dozen inexplicably missed bites I hooked one.  A bream, 7-4.   On bread.  Two more followed: a fish of maybe six something, and then a 9-8.  All three fish were hooked just outside their mouths.  I have no explanation for this effect, all the bites were the usual big bream, slow rise of the bobbins. I never used to miss bites like these back in the old Cheshire Meres Big Bream days, early 70's..   More bites were missed.  I continued to fish after dawn, and on through a second night.   The day finally gave me my first tench from the lake, a male of 5-1.  Something of a Nemo this fish, one of its pectorals being small and deformed.  But a tench.  

As evening arrived the bream moved back in again.  5 more fish being landed, with three more hooked just outside their mouths.   All on bread, the bait being hooked conventionally, no hair rig, or other fancy doomahdiddle rig in use.   The fish were again quite good ones, with a 9-13, 9-0, and 8-13 the three best fish. All in all I missed a lot of what would normally be very easy-to-hit bream bites, and hooking six from those eight fish just outside the mouth was weird. I put it down to the roughness of the breams' skin allowing the line to stay in closer contact with the fish, maybe even catching the line itself, and the following strike hitting home outside the mouth, as the fish played with, rather than eating, the bread.   But any other theories held by readers would be most welcome. As all the fish had head tubercles, I assume all the fish were males.

 I have stopped fishing the lake, for the bream were most unpleasant to the touch, and in this spawning condition, my interference with their lives was probably not for the best, even though I am sure double figure fish were there for the taking...and on the float too!   I'll go back, maybe in September to try specifically for those bream, once they have regained their condition.

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