Whenever that bright fluorescent-topped float slides away, you never know what will be tugging on the line. OK - some bites give you a clue as to the species chomping on the bait, but until the fish slides over the landing net, you are never 100 per cent sure.
Sometimes you can guess the species from the characteristic fight; crucians always make me smile with their yo-yo tactics and the powerful barbel gives the game away as they rocket along, hugging the bottom.
But I recently hooked into something very, very strange.
I was back on my home waters at Barlow, having a relaxed session with pole and pellet: 14 hook, four and six millimetre soft hookers combined with Team Daiwa wire stemmed 0.4gm float, over a sprinkling of feeder pellets.
Simple tactics that always catches a worthwhile fish or two.
Halfway through the session, I hooked into a spirited fish which sped to open water; my first thought was a big roach, always very welcome, but as the fish surfaced I second-guessed at an out-of-season trout, as the fish was very dark.
However, gently easing the fish over the net and eagerly peering into the folds, I discovered a black tench! Incredible!
Undeniably a tench, but totally black, and I mean black, not a hint of any other colour, anywhere.
The lips and barbels were black and what’s more, the eyes were black with no orange ring of colour.
It looked very strange and almost alien in its appearance.
I’ve caught my fair share of tench over the years, from Hardwick’s really dark green fish to the light olives at Grassmoor and even beautiful golden tench at Barlow and at KJS.
I photographed and wrote about the stunning white tench that Steve Jenkinson, the fishery manager at Barlow, had bred, but nothing as spectacular and striking as this beauty lying in the folds of my landing net.
Which begs the question, where did it come from?
It’s a first for me – and another to add to my list of unusual captures.
You just never know what’s pulling that float under!