It is amazing how time fly’s by as you get older. As I have been at my current job for a few years, the first thing I did at the start of the year was book off five Fridays in a row to enable me to fish five long weekends.

This meant I could fish Thursday night after work till Sunday afternoon. I was really looking forward to getting back on some of my favourite waters, chasing Tench on big pits or mega hard pits.

There were three main waters I had in mind, the largest one going up to 120 acres. All three of them have their own problems, i.e restricted areas, restricted fishing times, heavy weed most of the year and eels and small fish in abundance.

On the plus side, I know all three of them fairly well having spent many a session on them in the past and the middle venue at nearly 100 acres is a favorite venue of mine. I was keeping a very close eye on this one and walking it most evenings as I had finished my Roach fishing due to the fish spawning.

I patiently waited for some South Westerly winds to come in, which were the perfect conditions for the areas I wanted to fish, but I’m afraid they never arrived. I did locate some Tench after climbing some trees and searching the margins, but the water had been producing some very big carp and the banks were rammed with carp anglers in the areas I wanted to fish. It was heart breaking as I had some amazing memories of chasing Tench on that water. Maybe it’s one for next year…

A good friend of my mine and carp angling legend Danny Holland, had been telling me about water number three for some time and he had caught a few Tench whilst targeting the carp. He had landed a few nines, but said he felt there was bigger in there.

I had fished the water in the past but had limited results. These tench were under constant pressure from carp anglers, and they were definitely wise to rigs. I had seen a fair bit of under water video footage taken by my friend on this particular water. This made me aware the bottom after a few yards out was covered in white sand in a certain area, which was where I was planning to start on. My friend had been using white coloured leads, white swivels and fluorocarbon main line and he had done very well for the carp and tench. I decided to follow his lead and use white tubing, sandy coloured leads and flying back leads to keep the last few feet of line pinned to the lake bed, as I really did believe the big tench were very rig shy from what I had seen on video footage. He had been fishing over micro halibut pellets soaked for weeks in krill and tuna oil. Looking at video footage of this oil, it was causing an incredible oil slick for hundreds of yards and drawing tench in from everywhere. They really loved it! The plan was to mix it with red maggots, casters, hemp and parti mix. Looking back now the only thing that worked was the pellet and casters soaked in the oil. Nothing else seemed to make much of a difference and I could only get takes on casters.

When the first long weekend arrived the water level was very high and chest waders were needed in every swim to be able to cast. I had been checking the place out for a few weeks and it was busy with carp anglers. However, arriving at 4pm on a Thursday did give me a decent choice of swims. I stupidly turned up with 1.5lb test curve rods and small reels, which wasn’t a great choice as I was fishing 3 rods fanned out at 14 to 16 rod lengths out. I really struggled due to the scum on the surface getting on the line and clogging the small eyes on the rods. I had chest waders on, but I was still struggling with the low hanging tree branches. I was also very out of touch with casting and spodding as I was more familiar with under arm casting on the river. It was killing me to say the least, as using a midi spomb and putting 30 spombs on each spot with a head on wind was not an easy task.

I should have gone home that night and picked up some bigger rods and reels, but I decided to get on with it. By the time I had found some clear spots, baited up and got the rods out, five hours had passed. Once I had finished, I sat outside my bivvy in the dark, cooking my tea and chilling out.

It was very quiet angler wise on my side of the water, however most mornings a carp angler would arrive at around 5am. He was a very interesting fellow, and a gamekeeper on the River Test, who had lots of interesting stories. I did try maggots and worms using feeders, but the tench really didn’t tolerate lots of casting, so I changed to a cast and wait carp fishing approach. The weed was just starting to take hold, so I moved up to a size 10 hook and three rubber castors, which made a huge difference in the heavy weed as time went on.

The first night and day was very quiet, and I found it very odd sleeping down the lake as the last two years I had been doing short sessions down the river, so sleeping and eating down the bank was a novelty.

On the second morning, I saw a few tench rolling over my baited area and the middle rod was away having been left out over 12 hours. A nice 6.2 tench was soon in the net. I’m sure the recast killed the swim, as the flat patches I had been watching coming from the tench moving over the baited area had now stopped. On the final morning I had a few bigger fish rolling over the same rod and I had a backdrop at 6.30am on the middle rod. I had an epic battle as the tench fought for its life. Luckily, I was sat there in my waders ready and on the rod very quickly. I was very pleased when I netted an 8.3 female. Lucky for me my new gamekeeper friend was still about, so I got him to take some pictures, which turned out very nice.

The next long weekend came around very quickly and for some reason it was very busy. I started the weekend better this time, with Danny sat behind me putting me right on my casting, which to be honest was a great help. I used 2.5lb soft action rods and big pit reels and I was well away. It took me no time to get everything set up. As I had caught both fish from the same spot it allowed me to move them round a bit. That weekend I watched the Tench moving over my beds of castor and pellet, but due to it being so busy with carp anglers flying four ounce leads everywhere and it really didn’t fish well. I managed a 6.5 female late at night from the same spot as the week before.

It was a shame I neglected the margins because to my left there was a lovely deep gravel drop off coming from under a bush. On the Sunday morning I thought I had been dreaming about big tench rolling right in this same spot. I woke up thinking to myself that was some dream, but I soon realized it had actually happened. It was unbelievable as I’m a fairly light sleeper and I guess the rolling had been half waking me up, so I was hearing it in a half sleep mode. Stop neglecting the margins I thought! Fifty years of angling and I’ve still not got that one in my head yet.

When the next Thursday evening arrived, I wasn’t really up for it as I’m really not into busy waters. I loaded my poor little Corsa up in the morning until it was overflowing tackle. I did a day’s work and headed down the lake just to have a look. If I didn’t fancy it, I was going to the 120-acre water the next morning at 4am. The wind had swung round and was heading in right at me. I watched the water for a while as I could see my normal spot from this bank, however the tench were rolling on this side and they were big fish. I rushed backed to the car and unloaded all my tackle and barrowed it down to the swim. All thoughts of the other water were quickly gone from my head.

It was all very tight in my new swim and with the wind and now rain hammering in at me, I was forced to set the bivvy up first behind a bush, but still making sure I could see the water in front of me. I started plumbing with a marker float and I was in for a real shock. The weed was horrendous, top to bottom in 11 feet of water. It took me an hour to find small spots in the weed for two rods. I really couldn’t find a third spot and I was just about to give up when a tench rolled between the two spots I had found. I hit a lead straight at it and got a perfect drop at eight rod lengths, so that was that and I got to work baiting and getting the rods out.

The three spots I found weren’t very big and I knew I had to be on the money. It didn’t stop raining until the early hours of the morning and as soon as it did, I was sat next to the rod’s. The fish started showing to my left at about five rod lengths, so I marked the spot in my mind and moved a rod there later in the day as there was a nice sandy hump. At 6am I struck into a very good fish on my middle rod. I moved it out the weed and then it hit some weed closer in. I really don’t know why, but stupidly I gave it more pressure and the hook pulled. I was angry with myself to say the least and on checking the rig I somehow had put the wrong rig on rushing around in the rain the night before.

The day went by very quietly, so I rebaited and recast at 6pm and sat back in my chair. An hour later the middle rod tightened up and pulled out the clip. I was on it straight away and slowly guided the fish though the weed. I had it in the gin clear water in front of me, going back and forwards even the 2.5lbtc rod was giving it’s all. I couldn’t hold it any longer and in the fear of a hook pull, I let it run to the trees to my left 20 yards away and as it got close to them, I put the pressure on and slowly got it back to me and then guided it into the net.

I sat down for a bit, holding the fish in the landing net in the water. I was shaking all over, so I calmed myself down, whilst watching my prize in the net. My mate Rich was away fishing elsewhere, so I couldn’t call him, so I walked down the bank and found a nice lad who was a bailiff. I talked him through my camera and we weighed it together. As soon as I lifted the fish out the water, I knew it was a double and my thoughts were confirmed with a weight of 10lb 8oz.

I had a little bit of a celebration that night, but I still got to bed early so I could be ready for the morning bite time. One of the rods was away at dawn and I felt the fish for a few seconds before it was gone. I fished that day and night in heavy wind and rain but the lake had gone dead. It had taken fifty years to catch a double. All the years spent on waters that probably didn’t hold them or very few in a lot of acres, but as I have always said I did it my way and it was such a beautiful tench that it was certainly worth the wait. I think at this point I should have changed waters, but I decided to carry on as I only had two long weekends left.

I arrived the following Thursday at teatime and the weed was worse than ever. This meant that last weekends spot was out the question, as it would be far too risky trying to get a fish out of the weed at range. I watched the water closely and I found some fish a hundred yards down the bank from where I was the weekend before in the margins rolling along the tree line. I could have done with my 1.5lbtc rods but only had heavy rods, so just got on with it. I had them rolling all around me that evening and then in the morning they started to feed and by Sunday morning I had managed five to 7.7. I didn’t get back down the lake for two weeks and the fish had spawned. I had a very frustrating weekend, fishing over bubbling fish and not a touch. As I packed up on the Sunday all I could think about were the rivers as it was June the 17th. Looking back, I’m always very critical on how I fish and to be fair I did ok. Taking my friends advice on the pellet approach certainly got them in my swim within 12 hours, which is an accomplishment on such a notoriously difficult venue. It was also nice to meet some new anglers, as I rarely see any anglers on my stretches of river.

Rob Young