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Posts Tagged ‘Spring tench fishing’


It has been a long time since I wet a line at Marsh Farm.  However now things have warmed up and spring seems to have sprung, Geoff and I felt it was time to pay it a visit again.  The set-up and MF is excellent.  They have a superb shop on site with very friendly, helpful staff, excellent toilets and secure parking.  Access to the lakes is via gravel paths and although car access is limited to disabled drivers, walking isn’t hampered by overgrown, pot-hole infested roads, like some fisheries can be.

The lakes are just coming into full bloom, with the trees, bushes, bankside vegetation, reeds and lily-pads bursting into life.  The wildlife is a buzz of activity with all manner of waterfowl and other bird life to be seen.  There has been many a time when I have witnessed dramatic events unfold, as crows, magpies or even herons spot small, defenseless ducklings or eggs and steal them away from under the nose of a distracted mother.  The harsh realities of nature are all too apparent when you spend a great deal of time in the countryside.  Luckily it is balanced and you see some wonderful sights from all manner of animals and insect life to help redress the balance.  Spring and summer are delightful times to be in the great outdoors, soaking up the sights and sounds of the Great British countryside.

The Great British Countryside

The Great British Countryside

Despite almost torrential rain throughout the previous night and pretty much all morning, the lake looked remarkably clear when we arrived.  In fact it looked pretty damn good.  As always breakfast at Broadwater Park Golf Club was excellent and set us up for the rest of the afternoon and evening.  Steve and the guys in Apollo Angling on site at Marsh Farm were dishing out plenty of abuse but some great advice too.  So armed with a tub of white maggots and a few odds and sods, we were soon trudging along the path fully laden like some sort of Himalayan yak!

I opted for a swim sandwiched between some reeds.  To my left a large bed of reeds sprawled out into the lake and I could see the stems vibrating and the tops dancing around, as fish moved through them.  To my right there was a much smaller reed bed that remained fairly tight to the bank.  Well there were certainly fish here, that much was obvious.  As I stood watching, a nice tench swam past in the clear water, totally oblivious to my presence.

I trickle fed maggots into the swim after a liberal dose of Ocean Pride flavouring.  I do like to flavour maggots, it just gives them an edge.  I tackled up with my 14ft float rod, 4lb mainline on the fixed spool and a small insert waggler.  The float needs to be sensitive for crucians as they can be the finickiest of bitters.  I like a tiny bit of the float tip visible and try and hit the slightest dip.  Some days it works and some days it don’t!  They can drive you mad.  Patience is the key and expect the unexpected.  I use a couple of gripper stops to hold the float in place (with a float adapter attached) and I use a small swivel to join the mainline and hooklink.  By doing this I can mold some extra heavy tungsten putty to the set-up, without the need of using any split shot.  The reasons for this are two fold; firstly you can set the float to exactly how you want it with ease and secondly there are no split shot that can pinch the line or get caught up in the reeds or lily pads.

Today I was using a size 16 hook to accommodate two white maggots.  After spending some time plumbing the swim, I had the bait just resting on the bottom.  I fed two swims; one to the left and one to the right.  That way if one spots dries up, hopefully the other will produce a few bites.  By now it was about 4pm.  The float was flicked out and a few maggots tricked in over the top on a regular basis.  The float was gone almost instantly and a nice dark green tench was quickly landed.  It was in beautiful condition and was soon swimming back to its mates.  A few minutes later and a lovely dark bronze flank of a crucian shone in the late afternoon sunshine.  This was a much darker hue of bronze than I seem to remember from the crucians here and it looked a minter.  Not a big one; probably 1lb 8oz-1lb 12oz but beautiful to look at.  Each cast met with almost instant bites.  Sadly I missed dozens, which is not uncommon and sadly I seemed to lose almost as many as I landed.  It was quite a tricky swim and even the crucians were fighting hard, with all the fish heading straight for the sprawling reeds to my left. Luckily the combination of the right rod and reel line subdued most of the fish and I only got broken on one occasion, when a fish shed the hook and left it in the reeds.

From 4pm until 8pm I managed to land 4 crucians and 6 tench, however from 8pm until 11.30, which historically has been the most productive time, only 1 more crucian and a couple more tench put in an appearance.  Normally as the light fades crucians start to roll and become very active.  Not so tonight, at least in my swim.  Still it was a lovely mild night of around 16c and I really enjoyed my session.  Geoff had started off very slowly, I think I’d had 5 or 6 before he tempted his first fish but he ended up with about 8 tench and a crucian, after his swim eventually woke up at dusk.

Most of my fish were in A1 condition and their colours were certainly the best I think I’ve seen here at Marsh Farm.  I didn’t manage to land anything of any great size but enjoyed the ones I did land.  I’m sure we’ll be back very soon for another go at those magnificent crucians.

 

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Ah those tranquil early summer evenings. The sound of the swallows, the pitter patter from the occasional rain shower, the lush vegetation and the buzzing of honey bees. All these things go to make up a wonderful time of the year. Well except for the sound of carbon fibre snapping and obscenities drifting on the wind, across the choppy waters. Still more of that to follow!

I was joined by Geoff this week and we headed off to a club water in search hopefully of some big tench and crucians. This would be our first session on this particular lake this season. The crowds have disappeared, mainly due to the crucians spawning recently. This obviously drops the weights of the big crucians and many anglers loose interest. That’s fine by me, more swims to access.

As we arrived the heavens opened. It was like a cyclone had blown in; torrential rain and howling winds. The temperature dropped 4 or 5 degrees too. Luckily after 10 or 15 minutes it passed and we headed to the lake. The banks looked lush and vibrant with new growth. The lily pads were in full bloom too and looked very fishy indeed.

Sadly the wind was howling across the lake from right to left and it looked like float fishing would be made very difficult. Still I settled into a swim with the pads to my left and plumbed the swim to find around 4ft of water. The depth was slightly deeper close in and then shallowed up around 2-3 rod lengths out.

The plan was to float fish the pads and put a method feeder out around 25 yards. Baits were to be luncheon meat and sweetcorn, both with a few squirts of the sausage sizzle overspray, on the float rod and the Lone Angler sausage sizzle 10mm squabs on the feeder rod. I mixed up some groundbait consisting of a 50:50 mix of the Lone Angler mix and a green off the shelf mix. This created a nice light, fluffy groundbait and looked ideal for crucians. I also mixed in some corn, luncheon meat and some finely chopped prawns. After tackling up the two rods I was ready to fish.

Sausage Sizzle Squabs

Sausage Sizzle Squabs

I used a light 1lb test curve Avon rod for feeder fishing, incorporating a 35g method feeder, 4 inch hooklength with a size 14 Pallatrax the Hook. This is a nice and simple set-up. I banded a 10mm sausage sizzle squab and buried it into the method feeder mix and out she went. Second cast and whoops…..the top section snapped clean off around half way up. “Oh bother” I says, “what a nuisance”. Well words to that effect anyway. So the feeder plans were cancelled and I would have to concentrate on the float.

Geoff's PB: 7lb 3oz

Geoff’s PB: 7lb 3oz

So out went the float and it had barely settled when it buried beneath what looked like North Sea waves. A hard fighting tench was on and after a very dogged fight I finally netted a pristine fish of exactly 6lbs. Well not a bad start after the disaster of a few minutes before. The wind by now was blowing around hurricane strength, making float fishing interesting to say the least. I changed the set-up on the float rod to take into account the conditions when the float rod snapped around 8 inches from the tip! Yet again a few choice words wafted on the wind to all parts of the lake. This was beginning to get a bit tiresome.

6lb Tench

6lb Tench

So rod number 3 was set up. How long would this last? Fortunately no mishaps with this one, thank God. However my swim was rather quiet. The odd fish rolled and a couple of very nice rudd were tempted, otherwise pretty dead. Eventually the wind eased off and conditions improved for a while. Sadly it was short lived and the wind gained force again and blew directly into our faces. Geoff had found a quiet area protected by the pads and managed to present a float in much calmer water. The depth here was around a further 12-16inches deeper than where I was positioned. It seemed to make a difference and he had a couple of decent tench on the float including a 7lb 3oz beauty. He also had a couple of 3 pounders on the feeder. Later on a shoal of very small tench moved in and he caught around 5 tench barely topping the 1lb mark. In the meantime my float buried at last and a nice crucian resulted. She weighed 2lb 14oz. Not a monster but a lovely looking fish in fine condition. Not long after this Geoff also tempted a crucian of almost identical proportions, maybe even the same fish!

2lb 14oz

2lb 14oz

Eventually the rain and wind drove us off the water. Enough was enough. I know when I’m beaten. Hopefully conditions will improve next week and we can tempt a few more of the bigger specimens found here.

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Well after a sojourn across the waters to sunny Spain “Y Viva Espana” in search of my long lost golf swing, I returned to Blighty hoping the weather had warmed up. Whilst away we kept an eye on the forecast back home and I noted that the temperatures were up but mixed in with some pretty heavy rain. Still, those conditions are not necessarily a bad combination.

Las-Colinas-golf

Las-Colinas-golf

Work has also been getting in the way of fishing lately, still that’s the nature of the beast. Work pays the bills and allows me to fish, not the other way around unfortunately! So at last it was back bankside at Marsh Farm. Tench and Crucians were the target species and we were pinning our hopes on the improved weather conditions spurring the fish into a bit more action. And so it was to prove.

We had a two day session planned. Well when I say two day I mean 2 evenings really, fishing from around 6.30pm to 11.30-12.00. Crucians tend to become much more active as the light fades, so fishing into darkness can make a huge difference to catch results. I have caught a few clonkers during the day but in all honesty they are few and far between. There’s something quite pleasing about watching an isotope on the float at night. It’s almost calming and hypnotic. Well unless it never moves that is, then it’s blooding infuriating!

Geoff, Kevin and I have been using some of the Sonubaits green groundbait recently which is proving very effective at pulling the tench and crucians in. Geoff in particular has had a couple of pretty good sessions. So both Kevin and I opted for the same groundbait and it worked over these two sessions. I had a number of baits at my disposal; luncheon meat cut up into very small cubes and flavoured with the Lone Angler sausage sizzle (they go together so well), prawns with an added boost of Ocean Pride and a couple of types of soft hooker pellets.

Sausage Sizzle flavoured Luncheon Meat

Sausage Sizzle flavoured Luncheon Meat

I find plumbing the depth vital for crucians. You need to try and get the bait just resting on the bottom so bites can be detected easily and quickly. Crucians are very frustrating fish to catch. They toy with the bait if they are in a finicky mood, which is around 99% of the time! You get lots of false bites, bump off loads of fish and generally they do your head in. Oh what fun!

5lb 7oz

5lb 7oz

Anyway, as the light slowly began to fade so the float began to dip and weave. Soon it buried and a hard fighting tench was beaten to the net. A few others followed, each one desperately trying to reach the sanctuary of the reed beds. I was using a 4lb mainline and similar hooklength, to ensure I could keep them out of too much trouble. Bites came thick and fast and all of them turned out to be tench. There were a few decent ones in there, topped off by a 5lb 7oz fish. As the 11th hour approached a crucian finally put in an appearance. Not a huge fish by Marsh Farm standards but at 2lb 7oz a very welcome sight. I missed around 15-20 bites, lost around 6 fish and bumped a few off. By the end of the session I’d had 8 tench and a crucian.

2lb 7oz

2lb 7oz

The following evening was less eventful. A full moon seemed to affect the fishing. However as the evening wore on some action did transpire. I ended up with several tench to 5lb 1oz and a male fish of 4lb 13oz, which is certainly one of the biggest males I’ve caught from here. Luncheon meat and prawns seemed to be the preferred bait. Kevin, Geoff and Danny also managed a few with Geoff probably taking the lion’s share over the two days. All in all a pretty successful and rewarding couple of sessions.

5lb 1oz

5lb 1oz

Possibly next week we’ll be heading to Johnson’s for a session or two. It seems that the crucians have apparently spawned there, so there’ll be a dramatic drop in anglers on the water. Ostensibly it’s a method feeder water but I have taken crucians to 3lb 9oz on the float, fished in close to the lily pads. So it may be a two pronged attack; feeder and float. I would love to top my PB of 3lb 11oz. On the feeder I’ll be using the 10mm Sausage Sizzle squabs, they are a prefect size for crucians and tench, so fingers crossed.

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After some pretty dire conditions of late, I haven’t really felt like fishing.  I don’t mind the rain per se but with these miserable temperatures of late, I have never felt so less inclined to fish.  Work has also kept me off the banks for a while too.  I mean, how very dare you.  Of course it doesn’t help when you fish with three mates that are all retarded er I mean retired (well, I think that’s what I mean 🙂 ).  The water temperature has been kept unseasonably low due to numerous nighttime frosts and combine that with a very chilly wind at times and you can understand not only my reluctance to fish but the very reason why the fish themselves are so reluctant to feed at times.

Still at long last we have experienced a slight rise in those overnight temperatures.  We haven’t had a frost for at least a week and with the gauge not dropping below 6-8 most nights and daytime temps remaining around 13 or so, it was beginning to look a little more promising.  We opted not to fish on the Tuesday evening as the forecast was again for some very heavy rain with a significant drop in temperatures again.  However Wednesday’s forecast was pretty good, so we hoped that this blip wouldn’t spoil the fishing on Wednesday.

Geoff, Kevin and I set off, probably with limited expectations but I was certainly looking forward to being on the banks again after  my enforced hiatus from my so far unsuccessful attempt at a big crucian.  We headed to Godalming town centre for some lunch.  Godalming is a lovely town, with several good cafe’s to boast of and a couple that offer very good value for money.  So after a very healthy lunch (cottage pie and er chips…uhum!) we wandered along the river for an hour before heading off to Marsh Farm.

On arrival the lakes were showing the signs that spring was well and truly underway and that despite the weather’s best efforts to convince us otherwise, Summer was just around the corner.  The trees were in full bud, the reeds were tall and green and the bankside flora was showing signs of healthy, vibrant growth.  Perhaps this was not quite as much as it would normally be at this time of the year for obvious reasons but it was at least a sign that things were improving.

Showing signs of Summer at last.

Showing signs of Summer at last.

Very unusually there was no wind when we arrived.  So I opted for a swim in amongst some thick reed beds where close in the depth is around 3 feet.  With so much cover for the fish, I just felt it had to produce.  Geoff wandered off to my right and Kevin stayed in a very good area to my left.  The sun was out, albeit just at intervals due to the cloud cover and it actually felt very pleasant.  We all felt it was the best conditions we had experienced so far this Spring.

Geoff was in almost immediately; a tench.  I missed a couple of bites on paste and after missing a couple more opted to go back to worm bait.  Kevin was steadily catching some small roach.  This sort of action continued for some time.  My switch to worm elicited instant results, when after a really good fight I netted a beautiful looking tench weighing 6lb 5oz.

6lb 5oz

6lb 5oz

Then the wind sprung up and the action slowed a little.  Eventually the wind dropped and the action continued throughout the night.  Geoff seemed to be catching tench steadily whilst Kevin and I were somewhat slower in the action.  Then Geoff reported his first crucian. shortly followed by Kevin.  They ended up with 2 or 3 each, mostly over 2lbs and one dead on 3 for Kevin.  Despite catching 6 nice tench I felt a bit excluded from the action.  I was getting lots of interest on the float.  Lots of tiny dibs and dips, with the float moving slightly from side to side.  A sure indication that crucians were in the swim and mouthing the bait in only the frustratingly delicate way that crucians can.  I had plumbed the swim several times to check depth and so ended up whittling down the bait size.  I ended up with just about a quarter of a dendrobaena worm on.  I moved the float in towards the bank slightly, after seeing a few good crucians roll close in.  After probably 20 minutes of tiny movements on the float, there was a sufficient ‘bite’ to strike at.  This time I connected with something heavy.  The fight was dogged, with the odd dive, whilst the fish plodded around in a circle.  Eventually it broke surface and the magnificent buttery gold flank glistened in the torch light.  It looked like a really nice fish and after a couple of heart stopping dives, I eventually netted her.

I was looking at a perfect specimen crucian.  She was immaculate,  just so stunning.  They are truly a beautiful fish to behold.  I popped her in the weigh sling and recorded a weight of 3lb 9oz.  I was over the moon.  It’s the biggest crucian I have had for sometime and a just reward for all of those dismal sessions in the wet and cold weather of the last couple of months.

Well Geoff ended up with 12 tench (again, I think he had about 12 the last time we were here), including several 5s and 2 or 3 crucians, Kevin I think had 7 tench and 3 crucians to 3lb and I brought up the rear with 6 tench and the 1 crucian.  Still with the 6lb tench and the 3lb 9oz crucian, I felt I’d had the moral victory, they may of coarse disagree! We left at this point as the weather had got somewhat chilly and it was nearly midnight.  Enough is enough.

3lb 9oz

3lb 9oz

Now I know that Kevin’s brother Steve is a regular reader of my blog and for that I thank him and just wanted to say ‘hello’.  Steve enjoys his fishing with his brother up on the Wye once a year and due to family commitments doesn’t get to fish as much as he once did and that’s a small price to pay for having a wonderful family.  So I hope you enjoy the blog and when you do get to go again Steve, I hope you bag a few of those stunning Wye barbel.

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