Canterbury Tales Part Nine - No Pain No Gain

Tue 13 September 16


Thinking back ,when march 14th came ,coarse fishing used to stop for 3 months ,as anglers we would spend 3 months waiting for June 16th to arrive. The first day of the new season was always done on a local lake ,a lake where fishing in June was allowed from 4am till 10pm, and I would queue outside the gates for around 20 hours eagerly anticipating fishing for tench against lily pads, and by today’s standards those old tench weren’t massive, 4lb was a good one back then, how times have changed!

Now there is all year round fishing on gravel pits, however, a lot of these pits aren’t intimate with features such as lily pads. So rather than fishing a float lift method to a set of pads , big feeders full of hemp and maggots cast to features such as gravel bars, plateaus and the drop offs surrounding them are employed to catch tench that grow big on the natural foods such as shrimp and snails etc that are on their menu in these gravel pits.

Well this year I spent spring fishing one of the mid Kent fisheries lakes primarily for tench but also for the big perch and if there was time, I’d also try for one of the carp or two. This is a challenge set for me by my good old mate Liam Fagg, Admittedly, it’s not the easiest of carp waters but the fish in there are stunners, and as an even bigger bonus, the lads that fish for the carp on there are good lads , making this a very enjoyable place to fish.



April came and day time temperatures were definitely on the cool side and nights still close to freezing so I started off fishing for the perch, waggler fished lobworm in the deep margins fished just off bottom while spraying maggots bought many nice perch to over 4lb, and the added bonus of all this time of year is; perch from a gin clear gravel pit are awesome looking creatures. it wasn’t till early May that things really started warming up with night temperatures started to get to around double figures.

The first warm spell only lasted a couple of days and it bought with it the waking up of the lake. The unknown residents we starting to move, with fizzing from feeding fish and the odd fish showing (things were on the up)., Then after two days of heat, the mother of all thunderstorms descended on sunny Kent,. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed that much rain to fall in 90 minutes, and with the lightning crashing across the sky, very close to my bank side location and frequent, my sanity was in question! The outcome of this dramatic storm
lead to the local supermarket being closed after being struck twice, and a couple of strikes were even closer to my location. However, the storms warmth and pressure got some of the tench on the feed and fish to 8-07 (male) were landed.

It was a week or so later that I arrived for the afternoon ( I only fish short sessions). the day was warm still overcast and muggy and had a stormy feel to it, but it stayed dry. I was fishing in a bay ,feeding maggots hoping to get some tench interested but I also had some carp in front of me. I placed a pop up on a little close in gravel hump and fed a little corn over the top, and sure enough a handful of carp started feeding ( here we go I thought!). Then to my dismay, the lone swan that resides on the lake decided to put his neck down amongst the carp, and that was that!

My frustration was short lived however as I saw some shapes arrive along the reedy corner of the bay. These shadows that turned out to be tench and a couple looked rather on the large side, only one problem, I was nearly out of maggots ! So I legged it to my bike ,then rode to the tackle shop up the road with my maggot tub in hand. I ran through the door, asked the gent behind the counter to “fill her up”. I then jumped back on my trusted stead and was back on the lake in 10 minutes flat.



I lowered my feeders out close to reedy margin and didn’t have to wait long for the first take. After a proper good scrap commenced and after a few minutes, a tench of 10-05 was in the net, Then within around half an hour the same rod was off again and a new pb tench of 10-09 was in the net! ,happy days indeed ,and thanks to Liam for taking the pictures, yet again !!

I landed a few more tench during May but my eyes were also open for a carp that could be stalked. Then one sunny Saturday afternoon the opportunity arrived. After seeing some fish close in, I lowered a tiny pop up literally down the edge over a few grains of corn and half an hour later my alarm went into meltdown, fish on! After a great scrap, a beautiful dark common of just over 25lb was landed and it was another mission accomplished mission accomplished (Mr. Fagg-best you get your barbel rod out for your challenge).

It was a bit of a strange spring really, the changeable weather saw in one week the perch spawning very late on the Monday and on the Thursday of the same week in May, the carp started to spawn on the lake next door. As I recall, it was the middle of July and the chub were spawning hard last week in the town stretches of the river and some with the barbel having also deciding to perform the forbidden dance for a 2nd time in only a few months.

The start of the river season was pretty slow, the weed was yet to come up in some areas (its clogged with weed now),but still a few barbel, chub and bream were landed. To cap things off nicely, I then decided to fracture my elbow while swerving to miss a dog on my bike (sorry no footage available). Fortunately the treatment for this injury does not consist of a Plaster-cast, just a length of Tuba-grip and a sling .

So after the initial three days of agony, I stupidly thought a little fishing might be in order. I lowered a Hookbait Company 3B boilie into a tiny gravel spot in between the lush rananculus weed and around an hour or so later I had a four foot twitch that indicated a barbel may have picked up the bait and it turned out that playing the fish was proper agony! After the fish was landed I spent a few minutes thinking that I was going to throw up, such was the pain up my right arm. As a matter of fact, this stunning fish turned out to be a proper lump weighing in at,15lb 4oz. As they say “,no pain no gain” I suppose!

Tight Lines

Iain Mc Donold