A tench to remember in the depths of winter

The world is a very different place at 4am, particularly when you are on the banks of your favourite lake and the sun is already burning off the swirling early morning mists and gently warming your back through the camouflage jacket you hope will help disguise your intrusion, writes Kevin Miles.

Nature is at its loudest, softest, brightest and most colourful at such a time, and usually there’s only you there to delight in its beauty.

Even better, in a few minutes I would be tench fishing in a swim Mr Crabtree would wax lyrical about, such are the rewards for the early-rising angler.

Five minutes more and the jacket is redundant, hung on the back of the chair, already the promise of a scorcher is on the cards, it doesn’t get much better for the fisherman used to cold and rain.

Tackle for the day is a 13m Shimano pole, a fluorescent orange tipped self-cocking float on 6lb main line to a hook length of 3lb finished with a wide-gape 16 barbless hook, ideal in shape to accommodate the Sonu Baits pellets I’ve got such confidence in.

After carefully plumbing the depth, all the kit was ready, the bait-waiter fully loaded with micro feed pellets, maggots, four and six mill hooker pellets and sweetcorn.

The groundbait was a fluffy concoction of brown crumb; trout pellet powder, feeder pellets, crushed hemp and a handful of green Swimstim What self-respecting Tinca could resist such a platter of food?

Six cups of groundbait were carefully lowered in - concentrated attraction - that would diffuse with the gentle underwater tow or by any fish truffling through, the table was laid and all it needed were the guests.

First put in and the float immediately started to dance; little shivers, bobs and dips, enquiries from either crafty crucians or my quarry for the day – tench!

Eventually, the float buried and I lifted into the first fish of the day. They all know where the snags are, so I bullied it towards the open water, where it tested the bright yellow six elastic in its attempts to shake the hook. Eventually, after a spirited tussle, the elastic won and a butter-fat, golden-olive tench slid over the landing net.

The hook had fallen out in the net, but even so, this angry Tinca resented me holding it through the mesh to admire the teddy bear eyes, the distinctive barbules and the huge muscular fins. A male tench with attitude I thought, as it gently slid out of the net back to the depths.

Five more tench followed, all around the two to three-pound weight, along with magnificent crucians, roach and rudd before I finally gave in to the burning noon sun. But that first tench will be remembered when I’m bite-less and freezing in the depths of winter, a reminder of an idyllic summer’s day with obliging tench.