Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Estate lake tench - giving em some grubs

For the last couple of years I have said that I would drop my ticket for the estate lake but the fact is that it offers the best tench fishing for miles. When I say miles I'm probably talking about fifty as I think that the Nene valley would be my next best bet and with this water being a mere fifteen minutes from home it is difficult to turn it down. The chances of breaking my personal best are fairly slim I'd say but it does produce one or two fish that would make that mark each season and the head of back up fish is substantial, you can certainly go home with an aching arm if all goes to plan. A trip or two further afield after that elusive double may be on the cards in the next few weeks but until then local it is.

My first trip was at the end of March. I was meant to be roach fishing in Hampshire but on arriving at the fishery I found that there had been a fish kill, just what you want to hear an hour before dark after a three and a half hour journey. The owner was honest enough to refuse my money and offer me the chance to test the water quite literally but one emaciated roach and three small eels later my mind was made up and at six am I was on the road heading home. With half a gallon of maggots at my disposal the obvious choice was tench, though the weather was a bit on the cold side I had caught from this venue early on in previous seasons and fancied my chances. I blanked. There's nothing like kicking a man when he's down is there.

I had a couple of weeks carping after that session. I was quite looking forward to it for a change but in less time than it took to cast two rods out I experienced the less than friendly attitude of matey along the bank. I don't know about you but if I asked someone to take some photographs for me I would at the very least thank them for their time, I hope he asks me again as I will make sure that I chop his head off in every shot. A small incident I agree but I sat under my brolly shaking my head, if that was the standard of angler on the water then I didn't want to be there. In total I fished three over night sessions and then had to give it a rest, I'm just not sure if I can cope with busy carp waters anymore I'm used to doing my own thing and having my own space. I have a couple of months to decide if I renew that ticket, we'll see.

margin carp fishing derby

Back to the tench lake, I needed some peace and quite, and someone had told the tench as yet again I blanked. Other anglers were picking up a few fish but I had plonked myself in a less than consistent swim it seemed. Quite why this area has become less productive is a bit of a mystery as it used to be just as good as anywhere else but over the last year or so it just hasn't been the same. I lean towards the theory that it is bait related, the more popular swims get fished most days and I think that's sufficient to make the difference.

My next visit fell on the Easter bank holiday Monday and angler wise I had the place to myself. Do not take that to mean a peaceful day. Being in the middle of a village and a particularly scenic area its a favourite spot for every man, woman and dog and boy didn't I know it by the end of the day. If one more person asked me if I had caught my dinner I think I would have screamed and as for "is that a trout" I ask you, who the hell could mistake a tench for a trout? As that question was asked you'll have gathered that I did indeed break the run of blanks, in fact I had a cracking days sport and ended up with a dozen fish to 6lb 12oz. I started out with one rod on the dura method feeder and dampened pellet but after the fourth bite on the blocked and maggot rig I put the same on both rods and didn't look back.

tench fishing lake geese

When I first started fishing the lake maybe four or five years ago I started out using small hooks and light lines but soon increased both gradually until I ended up with 10lb low diameter nylon hooklinks to a size ten hook rigged up with three artificial maggots. That rig did me proud and I had a lot of fish on it but last spring I didn't exactly set the world on fire and truth be known I was slow to change things. It's easy to become a bit set in your ways when something has worked so well previously and I fell right into that trap. What compounded things is that I had suffered a lot of hookpulls in that first season when using anything smaller than a size twelve and that memory had stuck fast. Then a chance conversation with my mate Phil a couple of months back turned to this particular pattern of hooks and he commented that he hated them and had lost a lot of fish on them, in smaller sizes... Looking back now its easy to think why the hell didn't I try a different pattern but of course I didn't need to as the size tens were working. Sometimes you can't see the wood for the trees. Anyway this year it was obvious that I needed to change something and after tying a few different rigs at home I ended up with a size 14 Korum specimen hook tied to 8lb Fireline braid,with two hair rigged plastic maggots attached it looked perfect but I still had reservations about the hook size. It turned out that I need not have worried, Phil was right. The braid I also deliberated over a bit. Most braids would end up in a tangled mess on the helicopter rig which is why I originally used nylon but I wanted something a bit more subtle. Fireline is actually quite stiff for braid which means that it behaves itself tangle wise yet its still very unobtrusive. My concern was that being thin it might cause mouth damage while playing fish so I kept a close eye out but that worry turned out to be unfounded.

May the 1st saw me back on the bank at first light and I set up on the bank we know as the lawn. These swims are right in front of the stately home that the lake belongs to and also only yards away from the access road, unless the weather is horrendous you will, without a shadow of a doubt, be subjected to all that the public can muster. Its sometimes nice to have a chat with passing folk but it can be relentless and it isn't unfair to say that you do encounter more than an average amount of, erm, let's say characters! Nevertheless it is a a pretty reliable area and with another angler on the opposite bank already it was a safe choice. I was going for an all out maggot attack and initially recast the rods every ten minutes to get a bit of bait out there but it wasn't until 8.30 that I had my first bite. Meanwhile I sat and watched the bloke opposite in seemingly constant action which is less than good for the confidence. When he left at about 2pm he said that he'd lost count of how many he'd caught and I wasn't surprised. At that point I had banked six tench which isn't a bad day let's be honest but that tends to get overshadowed when you know that they are stacked up deep elsewhere.

heron nest tree lake
Heron nest on the island
I kept the feeders going in regularly which I find is important. I'm sure that the tench react to the splash almost as much as the deposited bait, and by 3.30 things started to pick up. In fact it went mad and when I packed up at 7pm I had banked sixteen fish to just over 7lb, arm aching stuff. Rain had fallen on and off throughout the day and that had deterred most of the lingering public but just as I packed the shelter away I was visited by a bloke who may well be a distant relation of Rowley Birkin of Fast Show fame. I couldn't quite decide if he was very, very drunk or just plain barmy!

estate pond tench fish
Best fish of a wet day
A week later I was back again and not surprisingly opted to sit on the lawn once again. It was lovely and quiet until 6.30am when the three stooges in the form of Messrs Culley, Hill and Hill, turned up and decided to invade my spot. Ordinarily I would have complained but you have to make concessions for the elderly so I moved over to let them park their zimmer frames and enquired as to what time meals on wheels would be arriving. Between mickey taking we all banked a few fish and dealt with plenty of tangles due to kiting fish crossing lines and the average weights were good. I ended up with nine tench plus a solitary bream with the best tench going 7lb 3oz and 8lb 2oz.

big lake tench fishing
A stately 8lb 2oz
There was no way I could fit in a day session the following week so I made do with two short evening trips landing three fish on the Tuesday and blanking on the Thursday after once again heading to the woods swims on a hunch.

stunning fishing lake picture
Nice view, crap fishing!
The weather was lovely though and fish or no fish it was a pleasure to be out and the carp were milling around in the margins with spawning in mind giving me a chance to have a good look at them.

margin carp fish spawning

Rain was back on the agenda the next week and that gave me the excuse to have a day off if nothing else. The water was still gin clear and the sunny spell had got the weed growing fast, so fast in fact that if it carries on at the same rate it could cause us more problems that is normally the case. I decided to head over to the field bank and as the rain was heavy I first walked round with the shelter and got that set up before heading back to the van for the rest of my kit. If anything the rain got heavier and a couple of hours after dawn I could have still used a torch at times, proper miserable weather. I had a few pints of dead maggots in the freezer that needed using and so rather than just rely on the feeders the mini Spomb was put to use. When using the helicopter rig I tend to use a snap link swivel on the end of the line anyway and so it is simply a case of clipping the Spomb on in the feeders place and with the line marked up with pole elastic as usual the free offerings are dropped right on the mark. A break in the downpour allowed me to get a reasonable spread of bait out and in fact the first the first bite came just as a missile shaped lump of white plastic plunged into the swim, its a funny old game eh!

The going was pretty slow but when the bloke next to me left at midday he had landed two fish, one 7lber and one 8lber. At that point I'd caught three tench including another nice fish at 7lb 3oz. That to me was good news. You quite often find that when you get a big bag of fish on this water that you don't get any big fish amongst them. Conversely my best fish have often come on slower days when bites have been few and far between, this was looking to be one of those days.

large tench fish bait
7lb 3oz
The weather kept me on my toes on and off all day with the wind coming from all points of the compass at one stage or another, I moved the shelter three times and rafts of weed were being pushed through the lines left right and centre, a complete contrast to the previous week. My fourth bite came at about 2pm and felt like another good fish though the weed meant that each tench came back in a fashion. In a way this is quite handy as these fish tend to kite a considerable distance to either side while being played and this often means they cross other rods, now they were coming in more or less straight. My thoughts were proved to be right, it was another nice fish at 7lb 9oz and there was no doubt that it was a big fish day.

Korum big tench fishing
7lb 9oz
With that fact in mind I was a bit nervy playing my fish from then on, the next one was bigger again at 7lb 11oz followed by a big six pounder and my seventh and final fish of he day just scraped its way to 8lb and strangely it was the same fish that I'd had at 8lb 2oz previously, certainly no complaints from me at sport like that though. 

big tench fishing
8lb on the nose this time, going the wrong way!

stunning fishing sunset shot


  1. Stunning fish - are they trout? :o)

  2. Dear Rob,
    Enjoyed your piece on the water, which I have just started fishing this season. I to have had the pleasure of meeting several non-fishing local characters, the numbers of which far out way the one tench I have taken over two visits so far. I’m hoping to redress the imbalance in low numbers of tench during some promised heavy thunderstorms; I always find stormy days a good time to fish (other than during the actual storm). Anyway, I was wondering if I might ask a couple of questions about the water. 1) Is it worth fishing through until evening on the water? I usually stop early afternoon, but your article suggest otherwise? 2) Would you expect the fish to feed during storms given the shallow nature of the water? Finally, 3) I’m struggling to find a depth greater than 3 to 4 feet at the moment. Is it a case of going out further for deeper water?
    Thank you for any advice you may be able to provide and for your time.
    Kind regards
    (Member of the Tenchfishers)

    1. Hi mate
      Evenings are worthwhile on there, I've never found early morning to be much good to be honest. I tend to scratch out the odd fish early and it picks up later, lately I'd say mid afternoon into evening has been prime time.
      The storm never arrived here (15 minutes from the lake) but there was the odd rumble in the distance so you may have caught it. Its always fished well in the rain I've been soaked through from constant action plenty of time so I wouldn't worry about that,as you say a storm tends to clear the air and the pressure drops, usually good feeding conditions.
      Depth wise its about that all over apart from up the inlet end and behind that top island where its shallower still so don't worry about that,justpick your spot and keep the feeders going in.
      I'll perhaps bump into you down there, I expect I'll fish it for the next week or two before moving on