Opening Day

I still adhere to the coarse fishing close season. Not out of any misguided sense of tradition but because I love the anticipation of it. And the trout season starts in April so that keeps me occupied. Also the lakes I fish, which are estate lakes under Downham Market and District Angling Association’s control, are still closed from March 14th to June 16th as are the drains which is where I kicked off this season.


Cuckoo Drain is a small, weedy, typical fenland drain and it holds the usual fenland drain species: tench, carp, bream, perch, pike, roach and rudd. I had a decent carp here early last season – a lovely bronzed english common carp which may never have been caught before, and certainly hasn’t been caught often. This year I put a little bit of bait in on a couple of weekday evenings before fishing it Sunday. The weather on Sunday was decidedly iffy in the afternoon – cool and breezy. But on the 25 minute drive to the drain the sun came out and once I’d set up it was a beautiful evening. I put in a handful of hemp, and literally as I let go of the second handful I saw the dark shape of a tench in the peaty-coloured water. I hoped it wasn’t too spooked though it did disappear pretty sharpish when the hemp hit the water.

The fish obviously hadn’t been that spooked though because after only ten minutes the float disappeared very positively, and this tench came to the net having taken my lobworm bait.


Ten minutes later another really positive bite and this smaller fish.


Then it went quiet for an hour or so. I missed another bite about half eight because I was watching the barn owl hunt on the meadow opposite. But then I did manage another tench before packing up about ten.

It feels good to be tench fishing again. I love fly fishing and sea fishing, but there’s something about a handful of hemp, a lobworm, the lift of a quill float, the stolid resistance and, hopefully, the red-eyed glare, slightly grumpy countenance, and olive-green flanks of a tench laying in the net. I fished until the last of the light, which was pinking the thin high cloud, had faded; when the darkness started to make me imagine the float was dipping, even though I knew it wasn’t.

I went again the following evening, and even though there was a blustery wind blowing in my face, I again had two good fish in the first half an hour of fishing. I managed to float fish because I was fishing right in the margins anyway, and both bites were again very positive.



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