The tenching has been more like sitting in the open air staring at rods than fishing so far this year. Either I haven't been able to find them or they just haven't woken up and started exploring yet. The bream, on the other hand, had been going wild down south. I couldn't string the time together to go after them though. It can be a short period of easy fishing and I'd missed out on it last year. Tuesday saw me able to get away. Unsure of the range I'd need to fish at I packed my Interceptors and one of my Ballistas. My plan being that if I needed two long range rods I'd press the marker rod into operation - so I put a spare Baitrunner in the bag. For some reason I threw another spod in the bait bag, to give me a choice of four. It must have been premonition.
The first task was to walk round the lake looking, and asking, for clues. One thing I will say about carp anglers is that when they know you're one of those weirdos who prefers catching bream or tench they are very helpful. A spot where the bream had rolled the previous evening was pointed out to me. It would be a starting point if nothing else, so I wheeled my wheelbarrow round and selected a swim that gave access to open water. Out with the plumbing rod and hard gravel was located almost at the casting limit of my Interceptors - determined by casting a feeder at the marker float. This process revealed that one of the Sporteras was making a grinding noise and felt as rough as a bag of gravel. I put my spare Baitrunner on that rod and swapped the other Baitrunner from the Ballista to the other Interceptor. I prefer to fish with matching reels so that I know where all the knobs and levers are and that they all work in the same way. Essential in the dark, I find.
The next task was the spodding of feed. A presoaked mix of pigeon conditioner and groats to which I added a load of mixed pellets. To save my back I stood the spod mix bucket on two other bait buckets. This also speeded the spodding up. Well, it did until the first spod fell apart. I had wondered why the bead was a tight fit under the loop on the MCF spod when it hadn't been on the previous cast. Everything looked okay. Then I cast again and the fins fell off. I had assumed the fins to be an integral part of the moulding, but they are not. They are a separate piece that is glued to the spod body. As the wire loop is attached to the fins and takes the force of the cast inertia did the rest. No matter, I had three more spods.
I clipped on a bigger spod that I'd modified to release like the MCF, filled it up and let rip. There was a resounding crack as the line parted and the spod flew free. The line had tangled at the reel. Arse! Time was getting on and I had two options. Swap my marker reel to the spod rod (it was clipped up at the correct distance and I had my horizon marks picked out to aim for) or take the float off and use the marker rod. Out with a second MCF spod (because it was smaller) and try the marker rod. It did the job easily, and was less tiring to use than the heavy spod rod. I was soon working to a rhythm and the bait was placed accurately. I think I'll try a lighter rod for spodding again.
With half the spod mix out on the lake bed I set to sorting out my method mix. This consisted of Vitalin, more of the mixed pellets and some Sonu fishmeal and pellet method groundbait. The thinking being that bream like pellets and fishmeal! One rod fished two grains of floating fake corn set about half an inch off bottom and the other rig had a 10mm Tutti Frutti boilie on the hair. With both rods out I set up camp and waited. As if a switch had been thrown bream began rolling at eight o'clock. First of all well out from the baited patch, then closer and all points between the bait and the middle of the lake. Confidence was sky high.
When tench fishing with 'bolt' rigs I set the baitrunners and the line tight. The only way the bobbin can go is down and the tight drag helps set the hook and stop it falling out. When I'm fishing for bream I've started fishing the bobbins almost as low as the chains will allow but with just a bit more of a drop possible. The baitrunners are slackened off so if a bream does move away it can take line and give an indication. One or two have actually given decent runs. Too often I've failed to spot a bream take using the tight set up. All that happens is a single bleep and that's it. Either the fish stays where it is or it kites round on the tight line. Ignore the bleep and you end up winding a bream in when you wake up!
The down side to the slacker approach is that you are more aware of line bites, some of which can fool you into thinking they are the real thing. I always give an indication plenty of time before lifting into it. Letting the bobbin go up and stay up, watching the line tighten and the rod tip move, waiting while the bobbin goes up and down for ages, or watching it drop right back. Even so they still manage to fool me now and then. Line bites can occur on a tight line too, and if they result in a slack liner you have to get up and reset the bobbin. I think fishing the bobbin's on a bit of a drop is the best, and most informative option.
Once it was dark everything fell into place. Suffice to say that the bream found the feed and my hookbaits, the bobbins jiggled, alarms sounded and the tripod was required! One fish came out in daylight, and after I'd returned it and was sorting the landing net out I found a tiny pikelet. The tiniest pikelet I think I have ever seen.
The second night followed a similar pattern to the first. Bait was spodded out in readiness for the dark hours and right on cue at eight the bream began rolling. Again it wasn't until the light had gone that the bobbins moved and the scales and camera were required. Despite the problems that beset the start of the session a little forethought in packing extra spods and reels and some improvisation on the rod front had rescued the situation and I'd done okay. As I packed away my bream camp in the morning sunshine it was apparent that my bunny suit and towel would need a good wash!
Many years ago I scoffed at people wanting to fish for bream. It wasn't until I caught my first double that I realised big bream are different to small or medium bream. They're not groundbait devouring slime-balls, they are impressive and majestic beasts.