- Venue: Mudeford Woods
- Swim: Peg No. 6
- Time: 19:45 to 21:00
- Weather: The heat wave has ended and tonight was one of those indifferent days holiday makers dread, overcast with the wind starting to get up and the promise of overnight rain to come.
Despite Mrs. Sidestream being in London at the weekend the fishing extravaganza I had planned never came to fruition. It will surprise very few of you that Mrs. Sidestream’s sensible suggestion that we move the fridge to a more practical place, turned into disproportionate DIY fest which along with some rubbish summer weather chewed up quite a few days. Once I downed tools the first priority was the garden which, boosted by a few rainy days, had managed to go haywire whilst I was distracted. A fishing trip was overdue, but heading out fishing this evening was pushing my luck. It was the fourth evening out in a row (Monday evening running, Tuesday badminton, Wednesday cycling to Bournemouth for the club run followed by a swim and picnic on the beach). However, Mrs. Sidestream had an invite to a friend’s beach hut so was also out. Therefore I thought I could sneak out for an hour or two.
With my track record nominating my target species is a tad ambitious, but it occurred to me that I had caught at least one tench a month from March through to June, but so far July was tenchless. In an ideal world I thought it would be nice to keep the run going, so headed down to Mudeford Woods hoping for a tench. I’ve mixed feelings about this sort of target as on the one hand I think it is good to challenge yourself, on the other hand I’m not sure I want to fish by numbers. I do play the numbers game with running and, to a lesser extent on the bike, pushing for times and aiming for X miles and Y feet of hillage every month. However, I think at heart I am an ad hoc angler; comme ci, comme ça, c’est la vie et plus ça change and all that jazz. When I was younger I used to play two fishing games with myself, the summer game was to catch tench from as many different venues as possible, with the winter game being to catch chub on as many different baits as possible. Nowadays I think I am much less driven. However, this evening I thought I would try to extend the tench catching streak in to a fifth month. After all three years ago month end deadlines were my bread and butter. Back then I soldiered on in a highly regulated environment, with disparate creaking systems that didn’t ‘talk’ to each other, with Luddites in key positions that disabled formula cells in spreadsheets thereby effectively reducing Excel to Word and with a senior management team that thought ‘tone from the top’ meant getting the likes of me to ghost write their thoughts on culture. In short I’ve navigated some tense month ends so on the 29th of the month landing a tench by month end should be a doddle.
The plan was simple enough; set up in Peg No. 6, ground bait in a line along the lily pad to the left and float fish over depth with maggots, brandlings and sweetcorn:
- Tackle: The short carp margin rod, 6lb line to a size 14 hook to nylon on 5lb line
- Method: Over depth float fishing with a SB Norfolk Reed Insert Waggler
- Bait: Sweetcorn, maggot and brandlings
- Ground bait: Mix#1 with sweetcorn, hemp and pearl barley added (no flavouring as I am currently rather adverse to liquid molasses following the ‘Sticky Fingers’ episode)
The lily pads are taking up more of the lake so I stepped up my line strength, but beyond that, I was fishing with my standard Mudeford Woods set up. The only other change in my approach was that I was decidedly in a one rod only mood! I haven’t yet worked out what the go to bait is at Mudeford Woods, but early doors maggots and maggot tipped brandling just picked up small roach and rudd. It was sweetcorn that picked up what was probably the smallest tench I have ever caught from this lake. Still trust me on this, in my working career I flirted with brinkmanship when getting month end numbers to the regulator, so as far as I am concerned a deadline achieved is a deadline achieved.
After that I caught a second tench also on sweetcorn. I was glad I had upped the line strength because, without being of any great size, this one was larger and it made several dives for the lily pads. There are a small number of tench in the lake from previous stockings, but the majority of tench were stocked in 2019 and 2020 and this one could be described as ‘standard Mudeford Woods size’. It will be interesting to see how these fish grow year on year. With the light going, two tench banked and a running club newsletter to write I decided to call a halt earlier than strictly necessary.
Lessons learnt; not so much a lesson learned as something I’m not sure about. This season sometimes it is sweetcorn, sometimes maggots and sometimes worms that have caught tench for me at Mudeford Woods. Today, for example there was no sign of tench until I switched to sweetcorn, a few weeks back it was the opposite, a switch to worms triggering a run of three tench. I’ve read quite a few articles over the years that are based on the premise that the author started catching once he worked out what bait the fish wanted that day. Is this the case though? Were today’s tench in the swim all along and just didn’t fancy worms for tea today, or was it that the tench found my groundbait just at the point I was using sweetcorn? I guess I’ll never know.
Next steps; I’m not going to deliberately set out to extend the tench run to six months, although Mudeford Woods is so close to home the possibility of defaulting to a session there cannot be discounted. Instead I think August is the month where I need to try a few different venues, as perhaps I have become just a tad too parochial during the pandemic. Short term though there is the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics to distract me.