Still After Tench

29th/30th June 2011

This was my second overnight carp and tench session on the Ouse and I was joined for the two days and nights by my good friend Alan Lawrence, who is one hell of an angler. On this second session, we selected a much wider section of river which we thought had possibly more potential for a big river carp. A few years previously, I had fished a few sessions there and taken lots of tench to well over 7lbs as well as three lovely mirrors, best 19-8.

We both tackled it the same way, with 14mm boilies, putting in around a Kilo of bait each. We were on different baits, which would provide an interesting comparison. We both used a method mix in conjunction with our hookbaits, to provide an extra area of attraction. Our swims were about thirty yards apart, either side of a substantial willow, and we both concentrated our efforts along the far bank cabbage fringe. The Ouse tench and carp have been found to love hugging these plants.

Our results were remarkable, in that they were identical. We both landed six tench and two average bream, but, sadly, no sign of carp. The second night was interesting. Both of us had been plagued by those damnable signal crayfish, and they became more persistent and annoying as the session progressed. Towards late afternoon on the second day, Alan was close to calling it quits, wanting to pack up his fishing gear as he couldn’t keep a boilie on the hair for more than ten minutes. My baits, however, were harder, and although they came back in with claw marks I was still presenting a bait after two hours. At least two of my tench had come after a lot of attention from signals that I’d simply ignored.

I offered Alan some of my bait for that second night rather than him having to abandon his fishing, and not more than ten minutes after the first cast with it he landed a lovely tench of 6lb 8ozs. Sadly, it had lost part of its tail, presumably to an otter attack. That was at dusk, and as the night progressed, even I started to suffer stolen baits.

At about 2.00am, after another series of crayfish pulls and jerks, I couldn’t fish the rest of the night with any confidence, so I wound in the remains of my boilie and replaced it with two grains of popped up rubber corn. At least I could sit back and relax. Sure enough, all the annoying indications slowed right down until just after dawn, when a screaming take had me grabbing for the rod. A good scrap followed and then, in the bottom of my landing net, was a tench of 6-8 with a damaged tail, the same fish that Alan had returned several hours earlier.

So, we ended the session with twelve tench to 6-8 and four bream around 5lbs apiece. Again there had been no monsters, but loads of fun. We know there’s bigger tench and bream waiting for us and a big carp must surely put in an appearance soon. Here’s to the next time.

6th/7th July 2011

Still searching for that elusive big tench, I again drove along the road bank of Summer Bay at Horseshoe, this time intending to fish more or less opposite boat point. The swim I eventually settled in was 57, close to the farthest car park. I must admit the closeness to the van was a factor, as the rain was bucketing down. I was able to get the bivvy up first and leave the rest of the fishing gear in the van, without getting everything sodden before I started.

Talking to two others who were already fishing, it seemed that the tench were not getting any easier. Every now and again, someone would record a good catch, but it was very sporadic. It seemed either feast or famine. It was either quite a few tench or a blank, with nothing much in between.

Once again, for the two days, I was buffeted by a strong south easterly, which was a bit annoying. The forecast had been for south westerly, and I’d set the bivvy accordingly! The session followed very much my experience on the previous Horseshoe session, in that I kept faith with my presentation of two imitation red maggots fished on a short hair popped up to beat the bottom weed. Sadly, I again had very little to show for my efforts, lots of little plucks from small rudd and a solitary tench netted of just over 6lbs on dawn the second morning. I did, however, suffer the mortification of losing a giant tench at midday of the second day. After a truly screaming take, I hooked into a powerful fish that I first thought to be a carp, but soon showed itself on the surface. I hesitate to put a weight on it, but if it wasn’t a double, it wasn’t far off. I knew I had problems, though. The fish was dragging a great clump of weed in which a branch was entwined, following an excursion close to the overhanging tree to my right. With the extra pressure, I was concerned for the security of my size 14 hook and eventually my worst fears were realised. Suddenly, the fish gave a strong kick and then I found myself just playing the branch. I pull out of very few fish, less than one or two a season. What a sickener for it to happen with possibly my biggest tench for many years.

Tony Miles

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Tony Miles

About Tony Miles

Tony Miles, now sadly deceased, hailed from Coventry, and first rose to prominence as a respected specimen hunter in the 1970s. He was a prolific writer for the angling press, and authored a wealth of books including The Complete Specimen Hunter, Elite Barbel, Quest for Barbel, My Way With Chub, and The Carp Years, to name but a few. Famous for his barbel fishing exploits, he also caught huge carp, chub, perch, pike, and bream, in a fishing career spanning many years. Sadly missed by the fishing community, Tony was a true gent and a wonderful angler.

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