A couple of small lakes surrounded by mature trees, with spreads of lily pads laying here and there amongst the little bays and inlets, as groups of tiny bubbles 'fizz' to the surface suggesting the presence of underwater denizens.... sounds good doesn't it?
Well that's what Gary and myself thought, with the promise of some warmer weather, and after a few hard weeks on the canal chasing the 'invisible' carp we headed off to a lovely club water near Bishops Stortford.
We'd heard from a friend of ours that had fished here recently that raking your swim first seemed to really bring the fish on. So Gary set out to grab a couple of rake 'heads' to make up a suitable tool, but the problem was he couldn't find any 'heads', only fully handled rakes... well they'd certainly make a big splash then!
Unperturbed Gary popped the rivets and whipped off the handles before setting the heads back-to-back. He then held them together with plastic 'ties' fastening them between each prong, and finally tying on a length of rope to allow us to retrieve our fearsome weapon once we'd hurled it into the dim distance!
We arrive at about 6am and it looks gorgeous, with the rising sun peaking out through the trees. Gary and I walk along the bank of the nearest lake to pick our swims, also keeping an eye out for anything moving about. Then its back to the cars, unload the tackle and move it all into our chosen locations... well this is certainly better than working!
Out comes the rake, and Gary's handywork is put to the test, with a splash it enters the water and Gary slowly drags it back in.. it works perfectly. Strands of weed cover the rake, and we take it in turns to clear each swim, but a bit of advice, make sure you're not standing on the rope as you throw.. as one, it doesn't go very far, and second, you don't half get wet!
Our methods for this outing were simple, a float rod and a feeder rod each. The lake holds tench, carp, F1's (cross between crucian and common carp), ide, crucians, and the usual silver fish, and so with tench around you have to have a go with a float.
Gary fishes straight depth, using a pole float to give him a very sensitive presentation, I on the other hand try the 'lift' method, a great technique for tench and hopefully it will help with any finicky crucian bites.
Well we give it an hour or so and to be honest, not a lot happens. The odd few bubbles, the occasional rise, but nothing to really make us feel the swims are coming alive.. I notice Gary has pulled in his rods and gone for a wander, he soon returns and I've an idea what he's going to say... it's time to move.
We head further round the venue to the adjacent lake, and pick a couple of swims that look, well more 'tenchy', and that seems likely as when we start raking again we're now pulling in heaps of weed, and soon clear a couple of good channels to fish to. When the raking has finished its in with the groundbait, laced with hemp, casters, and small pellet.
Not long after Gary lands our first catch, a small perch, taken on red maggot and on his feeder outfit. We're both finding that the floats are doing nothing, with hardly a touch between us, so we switch to a second feeder rod each... who says that means we can nod off now if we get sleepy?!!
But we don't, and after a cuppa or two, I'm looking at my indicators when one of them shoots up and my buzzer gives out a short, sharp beep, I lift the rod and feel the pull and jagging of what can only be a tench. As always its a dogged fight, even from what turns out to be only a 3lb 'tinca', but lovely all the same.
Gary checks we have the same set up on our feeders, and we have, both using a paternoster style rig with a small cage feeder on the main line and the hook fastened on the other, shorter line, allowing the feeder to hit the bottom, even dropping through any residual weed while allowing the hookbait to float down slower, and hopefully land on top of any foliage.
I'm lucky and not long after I'm in again and another tench joins us on the bank. A little later and Gary has a good bite and it's the first F1 of the day, not that I'm going to enjoy playing any as Gary procedes to catch them regularly throughout the afternoon!
We both have false bites, half attempts, and quick pulls that result in nothing, just to tease us, but in between Gary has a tench, and even hooks an Ide that decides to escape the hook at the net, well that's fishing, and after a barren few weeks its nice to get a bend in our rods... it's been a lovely day.