This blog follows me on my travels to try and catch specimen freshwater fish of all species including carp, tench, pike, barbel, perch, roach, rudd and chub. This blog also looks into the various tactics, baits and rigs sucessfully used to catch specimen coarse fish. I have also included a venue guide giving information on open access waters accross England. This is located on the menu to the right of this page under Choppedworm venue guide.
re receiving some of the best weather for many months. The average temperature is around 17 degrees peeking at 22 which is excellent for fishing. This consistency of the weather would surely encourage tench to begin feeding before they spawn and so I decided to do a campaign on a water I have fished only a couple of times. Haysden lake is a large 30 acre gravel pit and is available on day ticket under Tonbridge angling society at £5 a rod. Half of the lake is a nature reserve and unfishable so adds to the difficulty of catching The water is extremely hard to fish for specimens but was just the challenge I needed. The possibilities are that the water could contain tench to only 7lb or tench to 10lb+ I just don't know. I could have chosen a lake where there are hundreds of tench to reasonable sizes but this is not the fishing I enjoy and would rather put time and effort to catch a large wild tinca.
I planned the campaign a few days prior to fishing. Two rods would be fished at the bottom of a marginal shelf with method feeders. The rigs would be short with two pieces of fake corn as hook bait amongst a scattering of real sweetcorn. The method feeder filled with Van den eyed ground bait, added breadcrumb and strawberry additive. The rigs were to be snakeskin with two inches from the hook removed to allow the bait to move naturally. The two pieces of pop up fake corn were soaked in strawberry glug to take on some flavour.
09/04/11 - My first session on Haydens for its elusive tench began on the Saturday during a mini heatwave. I had a marker rod on me which I used to find a good gradient shelf where the tench would be feeding. After plumbing half the lake except the area by the bridge (as its platforms and I had no rod pod on me) I found a nice shelf that quickly decided from 4ft to 8ft with a couple of meters. The rods were baited up and cast to the spots. Within an hour the left rod bobbin was bouncing around and I assumed a bream was on the other end. Although the not the target species I knew the tincas would not be far away. However no bream was on the end and the bobbins continued to bounce all day. I have come to to the conclusion that small fish were knocking the feeder as if something took the hook bait the bolt rig set up would hook a fish. I feel asleep during the day and awoke red as a lobster. I have been in pain for two days and look stupid but I have learnt to now put sun cream on the hard way.
12/04/11 - My second session on Haysden for the tench was to be fished in the first swim you come to when walking from the car park directly under the A21 bridge. I found that the water dropped quicker hear and at 10ft out dropped form 4ft to 9ft with a couple of metres. This seemed an ideal spot and so I baited the rods and filled the feeders the ground bait. The same tactics and rigs were used and a few tins of sweetcorn scattered over the hook baits. I had a couple of knocks to begin with which was similar to my last session and I'm sure were small fish were knocking the feeder. At around 2pm the left had rod pulled round taking the rod pod with it. I chucked my half eaten sandwich and ran to the rods. I was sure that I had hooked a monster at first but after adjusting my clutch a few head shakes confirmed a smaller fish was on the other end. I landed a lovely looking tench that weighed in at 4lb 8oz but was weighed in a wet sling so about 4lb would be more accurate. I was so happy to get of the mark so quickly and although only a small tench it was a tinca caught by design. I will be back to the same swim this week and bait up in hope a large specimen takes the bait.
19/04/11 - I awoke at 3.00am to get down the lake before sunrise and made my way down to Tonbridge. I decided to use the same tactics but change my baiting approach. I re-tied the rigs as the hairs were coming through the knot less knot in the inside of the shank and this I feared may have missed me some fish. I decide to by some mini pellets which I soaked for 12 hours in strawberry additive and the juice from the cans of sweetcorn. These pellets were mixed into the ground bait to the correct consistency to form a hard but easy to break down ball on the method feeder. The hairs were baited with one piece of fake pop-up sweetcorn and one real piece.
I settled in a swim two down from the previous session and found the topography was similar with a nice bank sloping down to 9ft at around a rod length out. No casts needed here but just a gentle underarm swing. Once the traps were set I sprinkled some micro pellets and sweetcorn to get the fish mooching around and holding in the area should they arrive.The morning passed with only a couple of knocks when at around 3pm the left hand rod went off. After a strange fight I netted a small 3lb bream which I am sure had some roach in due to its fighting quality's. I wasn't best pleased to catch the fish after such a long wait for a tinca but figured that fish are in the area and so one may not be far away.
At 4pm my right hand rod rattled off and I was in to a heavier fish which unfortunately also turned out to be a bream but one of 5lb and 3oz. I stayed until 6pm and so fished for 14hours but for no tench to grace my net. I will be back on the bank holiday Friday to try again. I am sure there are some big tench in there but where is the question. I may try and find the ledge that shelves near the middle of the lake at around 160 yards distance. Somewhere the in that area the water goes from 12ft to 4ft and so could be a magical spot for some large red eyes.
On the 28th March 2011 me and my brother headed down to Linear fisheries in Oxford to try and get amongst the early spring carp. We planned to stay for three nights and possibly four depending on how successful we were. On Wednesday morning at five am we set off in hope to fish St Johns or Manor lake of which hold few carp to over 40lb and many back of thirty's which is my target for the season. If you have been following the blog you will be aware that we visited the fishery last summer and tried our luck on Hardwick and smiths pool but with no success although I did catch an amazing 2lb roach. We pulled into the car park after a Mc Donald's breakfast and to our amazement St Johns and Manor was packed!!! We decided that rather than be back to back with other anglers as we could have squeezed in we would rather fish Hardwick and Smiths Pool again. On arrival we walked around the lake trying to spot and fish moving but there was nothing visible and so it was to be instinctive fishing choosing the swim that looked like it could be the most productive.
It was decided to fish a bay at the far side of the lake into Hardwick. It would take a massive effort to reach the swim with all our gear, a barrow with flat (square wheels), my brother with less energy than a new born sheep but we got there in the end and set up just in time for the heavens to open.Our bait choice was ten kilos of tutti frutti Nash baits which might sound a lot but I was hoping to feed heavily and bring the fish to us and hold them there. Two rods were fished on the first night, one with a snakeskin critically balanced bait and the other with the trusty hinged stiff rig. These were baited with hi viz pop ups and nashbait air balls with a kilo of bait scattered in the area. The first night passed uneventful and we were greeted with a great south westerly wind blowing in the opposite direction. Things were not looking good and if the fish were following this strong wind they would be in Smiths Pool. It was decided to stay another night in the swim and put some more bait in. The second night also passed uneventful and we were beginning to become desperate for a carp. After a short discussion and a walk around half the lake it was decided to fish the spit that looked over the gateway of the two lakes. The thought was that we could fish Hardwick and Smiths Pool from this swim and fish the gate so any carp moving from the lakes should cross our baits. We packed up the gear and walked the bivvy around fully erect. Once set up we had a new surge of energy and it felt the right move.
At around 7pm Johns rod fished in Smiths Pool came to life and he was into a fish. Before the take John had decided to fish this style to try and temp one of the large tench the lake holds so when a big tench surfaced we were delighted to catch by design. The rig was two fake pieces of corn critically balanced so semi buoyant. When weighed she went 8lb which was a new personal best and a great specimen.
The evening commenced and night fell. At 3 o clock my rod fished in Hardwick in the deep water rattled off. After a short fight a lovely looking 13lb carp was safely in the landing net. The move was beginning to pay off. I re-cast the rod in the darkness to around the same area and at 7am it rattled off again. This time the fight was less speedy and the fish held in the deep water. I was convinced the fish was a 20lb + but once in the net I could see it was considerably smaller. We weighed her at 16lb and although not the fish we were hoping for it was more than welcome. Its great catching carp of all sizes although I hunt specimens I am all ways happy to catch even the smallest of fish. That was to be our last capture before we decided to call ita day and return home. The walk back was agony and took about an hour, but we managed. John and I are planning to return to Linear Fisheries in the summer and so will keep you updated. Tight Lines.