Tench can provide a real sporting test

WEST NORFOLK & FENS: Phew what a scorcher. To think how many times I dreamed of writing that as I sat there like Nanook of the North last winter, watching ice floes sailing down a swollen river past my pike floats.

How times change, I thought, reaching for the sun cream on Sunday. I fancied Springside off the Snettisham Bypass for a tench or two and tripped one up third chuck that raced around like The Stig on my float rod.

They're a serious proposition on the lake, with one angler netting 16 of them including a brute of nearly 7lbs on a recent sortie.

And they're cracking fish when you latch into one too, with dark olive flanks, amber eyes and fins like scallops on the scrappy little males.

You have to fish the right pegs – top corners by the car park, or two-thirds of the way down the road bank where you've got the bushes and rushes – and fish close-in.

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The depth goes down quicker than the Greek economy in most swims, shelving steeply down to 10ft or more. Tench browse along the slope, but you need beefed-up gear because they don't hang about when you hook into one and carp patrol the margins too.

Pole anglers were catching well further down the lake, with bream obliging on Sunday. Anglers on the horsey bank were finding some of the bigger slabs lobbing method feeders out to the middle.

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But as lunchtime saw the mercury climb close to 30C, the bites dried up all round. Little surprise, given the conditions.

Going early or late is probably the answer when it gets this hot - but a return to cooler weather should see things get a little easier over the next few days. Now the fish are through with spawning, it should be game well and truly on.

Lynn AA waters have got off to a cracking start, with 100lbs nets reported from the Middle Level and 70lbs catches on the Ouse.

They came after an amazing opening day, when four anglers shared a 400lbs bream bag on the under-rated Relief Channel.

Chatting to some visitors from other parts of the country on the bank the last few times I've been out makes me realise how lucky we are in this part of the world.

It's easy to grumble after a slow day or two, but at least you can still fish just about anywhere you like in the Fens on a day ticket, club book or syndicate card. Compare and contrast with Nottinghamshire, where anglers have been thrown off more than 60 waters they've enjoyed for generations in recent seasons.

One guy I met on Springside was on holiday from some far-flung part of the Midlands where they all talk like Jasper Carrot.

He couldn't believe how varied the fishing was, after a morning when carp, tench and bream all put in an appearance as the skylarks sang overhead.

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