Unexpected winter tench

With last Saturday’s torrential rain putting the rivers out of sorts, I was back on my home waters at Barlow, where I’m based as an angling coach.

With the wind howling through the treetops, I opted to fish the Tench Pond, which is well protected from the gales by bushes and trees.

From one of the more sheltered pegs I could fish the pole in comfort.

I’d decided to fish bread punch for the day, mainly because I didn’t have time to visit the tackle shop for maggots, but I always carry a good selection of pellets – just in case. So bait for the day was a single slice of white bread.

The end gear was a fine wire 20 hook to 2lb hooklength, a wire-stemmed Maver Black Ice pole float to 4lb mainline and Stotz, shirt-button style, to balance the float down to half an inch showing above the water.

I reckoned the wire stem would give a little more stability and the thicker tip would be more visible in the surface ripples.

The very first put in with 3mm punched bread saw the float slowly slide under the surface, a bite – which out of sheer surprise I missed.

Second put in and the float disappeared almost immediately - resulting in a glistening 4oz roach in the net – the beginnings of a good day’s fishing.

Every put in resulted in a fish, roach, bream and lots of gudgeon making an appearance – all on bread punch.

Again the float buried - the six elastic streaming out from the pole tip, a bigger fish this time!

My first thought - ‘Gotta be a carp’ - but after a spirited battle, a big tench slid resentfully over the lip of the landing net.

With beautiful golden-bronze flanks and orange ‘teddy bear’ eyes, this Tinca was a very welcome and unexpected bonus in the depths of a hard winter.