Well, there wasn't going to be a straight answer. Gary and myself fancied some more tenching and the lake we were heading for holds 'tincas' to over 11lb... but trouble is, it also has carp to nearly forty pounds!
So it's either fish light, and if we hook a whacker we probably lose it, or fish heavy and possibly scare off the tench... hmmm, well if we did hook a twenty or a thirty we might as well land it!
Right then, June's arrived and it's time to brush off the dust from the bivvy and do our first night session of the season... load the car, rods, bedchair, sleeping bag, pillow, cooking gear, food, water, bait, barrow, pod, and of course the bivvy... think I've got half the house in there!
It's about two in the afternoon and Gary rings to say he's at the lake, he fancies the bank round from the car park, but he's waiting till I arrive before setting up camp so we can both decide on swims... don't worry mate I'm on my way!
Once there we agree this end of the lake looks good, there's a nice couple of swims that are fairly close (got to be within tea making distance!), with Gary's giving him access to a nice snaggy area on one side, overhanging trees on the other, and an island not far out in front. My swim has a reed lined area nearby, the same overhanging trees between us and the island also in view, and above all else we have a nice breeze blowing in our faces... got to follow the wind eh?
Gary favours an oval brolly to sleep under, me a small one-man bivvy I've had for a few seasons, so up they go and then out come the rods.
I put out a popped-up boilie against the reeds, using a flavour from our mates at All Seasons Baits that we've been slowly feeding into the lake, along with a handful of freebies it should attract something? The other rods quick to follow, its out to the island and I put on a 'sticky toffee' boilie just as something different.
Gary mirrors me with an All Seasons boilie cast close to the snags, but he tries something a little different with his other rod. We'd found last season that mussels attracted some interest, but not only from the fish, the birds liked them too! And just to have peace of mind we started wrapping them into small balls with 'armabraid', then threading them onto a long hair, so that's what Gary does, and lobs it out under the nearside overhanging trees, a couple of rods length out, and over the top of a few small balls of groundbait.
Meanwhile I'm mixing up some groundbait as well, and this is deposited on my side of the tree, hopefully to build up the swim for later.
It can't have been more than an hour later, and I'd walked round to see Gary and check he was all sorted for the evening then... beep, beep, weeeeeee! He was in, and in the deep near margins it was great to watch as Gary played a nice common to the net.
It went 16lb 13ozs, not a bad start, could there be a few fish on the cards tonight?
The mussels are getting some attention, but it's from just about every duck on the lake... always interesting to see Gary's version of the 'haka' as with landing net in hand he encourages the waterfowl to 'move on'!
After some time they leave and gradually the sun begins to sink behind the trees. I've not had any action from my 'reed' rod, so before dark I put a couple of grains of floating artificial sweetcorn on the hair, this then gets dropped over my patch of groundbait I'd put out earlier.
We have a last cuppa then it's into the sleeping bags and dreams of screaming alarms!
My slumber is interrupted by distant beeps, I listen and hear the splash of a fish, a quick walk along the bank and I find Gary into a fish... the man's on a roll!
It's a short fight and not long before a reasonable tench is brought over the edge of the net. We don't bother to weight it, as it won't better any PB's, and it's slipped straight back in.
There's no more excitement during the night, and besides the odd duck or coot in the very early hours, I've not had a touch. So once we've enjoyed a morning brew I'm changing my tactics again. This time I swap my lead for a cage feeder, which I pack with groundbait, then on the hook go 8 to 10 red maggots, and then its back out by the reeds.
I keep re-filling and returning the feeder regularly, to build up the bed of groundbait, I'm sure there's a few bubbles coming up now, along the edge of the reeds. Then my alarm beeps, my indicator rises and I'm in... trouble is I've hooked a duck!
Oh well, something likes the maggots, so I pop it back out, and not long after my patience is finally rewarded, a beep, then another, my indicator drops this time, I strike and wind quickly as the fish runs towards me. I get full contact and play in a tench, a very small, old warrior of a tench!
It's a sort of consolation fish for me, it's been Gary's trip, a nice carp and a reasonable tench... well done mate, can't wait for next week!
The following week...
So we're back again, in the same swims, and doing the night.
The wind isn't quite in our faces, but it's still blowing down this end. Gary's got here first (again!) and has already seen fish moving, so it's looking good.
We decide to target the near end of the island, so Gary lays down a bed of boilies with the 'pult. The rods are sorted, and we both cast to either side of the baited area, then settle down with a nice hot cuppa.
Both of us put out our other rods, Gary to the snags that produced last week, and me... well I'm giving the reed margin a miss as I only managed a small tench, so instead I fire a bait out parallel to the side of the island where I've seen fish rolling.
There's a good splash, and we both see where a fish has topped... right over our baited area... it's looking good!
Over the next couple of hours we see, and hear, plenty of what seem like reasonably sized 'lumps' crashing on the surface. Some we can see are tench, but most are carp, and quite a few are right in our target spot.
Gary has had a couple of beeps and a tug on his line just to prove they're there, and it's not long after that I hear a screaming take from his swim.
I walk over and sure enough Gary's playing a spirited fish, which he steers expertly into the net... it's not a carp this time, but a nice sized male tench. Onto the mat, out comes the hook, and it's into the sling... 6lb 7ozs, Gary reckons that's a PB male for him, what a nice start to the session.
So the light fades and we finally turn in for the night. Fish continue to jump and crash regularly through the wee small hours but our sleeps not interrupted. I hear Gary have a few beeps but it doesn't result in a run, oh well, it's nice to have a peaceful kip!
The sun comes up, and the day continues in much the same way, with nothing giving us a lot of excitement... actually I'm wrong, as early in the afternoon Gary finally gets a run. He plays what he reckons is a carp, and not very big at that, it comes to within a few feet of the bank then does a quick turn and somehow slips the hook... carp 1, us 0.
And that's about as good as it got, with neither of us having any more action... but that's why it's called 'fishing' and not 'catching', it's nice to be out in lovely surroundings and in good company, having a cuppa, reading a book, enjoying the banter, roll on next time!