A bad back, atrocious weather, and even the tench are on a go-slow! (tench article)

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Ouch! I never realised that fishing could be so painful. Well, not the actual fishing itself, more like the after-effects. Returning from a barbel session on the River Dove, pulling up outside my house I got out of the car, just like I have done thousands of times in my life.

But on this occasion, I felt my back go. Going to bed that night I felt a little sore, but it was only the next morning, when I realised how painful a time lay ahead of me. I do not exaggerate if I say it took me a whole hour just to get out of bed and get dressed! All you bad back sufferers will fully understand where I am coming from, I’m sure.

The next week, I struggled to make the bathroom, never mind the water’s edge! So, an enforced time of rest was the order of the day. Still, I’m not complaining as my wife and two daughters waited on me hand and foot. I literally had my own three private nurses!

Although it was so painful that I had to have the doctor round to the house, fortunately it was muscular rather than spinal, and eventually I was back to normal. To be honest I couldn’t wait to have another fishing session, and so it was, that I returned back to the lake that I am currently targeting tench on.

 Not wanting to endure that sort of pain again, I gingerly made my way along the side of the lake, eventually depositing my tackle in the chosen swim. The good thing about the water I’m fishing is that tench can be caught at any number of pegs. I’ve had them in the shallows and I’ve caught them in more than thirteen feet of water. I’ve had fish under the rod tip and I’ve taken them from sixty metres out.

It’s a good venue when you’re not sweating it out on the journey there, hoping that the ‘hot’ peg is still free. Some waters I fish you may as well go home if a certain number of swims are occupied!

The first thing I did was to bait up. I’m currently fishing corn as hook bait and the same, together with dead maggots, as the attraction bait. Brown crumb, with a good helping of fishmeal enables me to put the aforementioned goodies (if you’re a tench that is!) into balls ready to deposit into my swim.

Within half an hour of casting out I was into a fish. It didn’t fight that well, and it was only really as the fish came into netting range, and therefore view, that I saw it was a decent enough specimen. At 5-3-0 it was my eighth tench of the campaign over the 5lb mark.

Within the next hour I lost a couple of fish, both hook pulls. One was on the strike, the other after playing it for some time. It was impossible to guess the weight of the first, but the second was definitely another ‘5’. Still, you win some and you lose some. That’s the name of the angling game!

As the evening wore on, the weather mood distinctly changed. I could just sense that a storm was on its way. I’m sure as an angler, spending so much time out in the open that you can appreciate what I mean when I make that statement. Anyway, a telephone call from my wife confirmed that Sedgley, where I live, was suffering from a torrential downpour. As I was on the ‘flight path’ of the storm, it was time, with just an hour to go before dark, to beat a hasty retreat.

The distant, but ever increasing in volume, thunder convinced me to get back to the car as quickly as my back would allow me to! As I packed everything away in the boot, the first drops of rain started to fall. Talk about good timing! Within five minutes of driving, I had the windscreen wipers on double speed, trying to keep up with the amount of water being deposited.

 By the time the next session came round, I was fighting fit, and once again eager to catch some more tench. As I’m only fishing for the species until the end of August I want to make the most of the opportunity.

The weather conditions were ideal – overcast with a slight breeze, but still a warm day. The latter was really for my benefit though as it is the first two that directly affect the fishing itself. However, as with the previous session, I again struggled. It was two hours into the session before I had my first action.

It was a good bite, the sort where the rod goes flying out of the rest! I do check my hook lengths regularly, so I’m not sure what the problem was, but I ended up with a break a good four or five inches above the hook itself. Another two hours later and again I’m into a tench. This one slipped the hook though. I must admit, at this stage a blank looked very much on the cards.

As the late afternoon became early evening, the light showers progressed to a heavy downpour. As an angler I actually enjoy sitting under the umbrella nice and dry, watching the rain outside. It’s not much fun packing away in it though, and fortunately, the rain had well cleared as I started to wind down.

Right at the very end, and a lesson in perseverance, I hooked, and perhaps more importantly – I landed – my one and only tench of the session. Certainly not one of the biggest fish I’ve caught. But at 3-6-0, considering how slow it had been, it was definitely a very welcomed one nevertheless.

Apart from fishing, the other love of my life is football. I’m a Wolverhampton Wanderers season ticket holder. As the pre-season friendlies are in full swing, I intended to see the week out, not with a fishing trip, but a visit to Buck’s Head, the home of Telford United, to watch the mighty Wolves (well, we are in the Premier League now you know!). We were scheduled to play the Dutch team Den Haag.

Unfortunately, the game was called off due to a water leak in the dressing room; plus the pitch was heavy due to the downpours we had received during the week. No rain for weeks, and in the space of few days, not only is my fishing affected, as the storms in the first session caused me to pack up early, but now it affects my football too! Still, there’s always the next time…

(Article number 3 originally published August 2003. If you like it then why not share? Thanks)