The harder we all fish the richer the rewards are

John Bailey and Danny Benson with a nice spring tench. Picture: John Bailey

John Bailey and Danny Benson with a nice spring tench. Picture: John Bailey - Credit: Archant

The richness of fishing is that it has so many gifts to bestow.

It might be you just want a day's relaxation or a session enjoyed with friends or family.

Perhaps you're just content to wallow in the countryside, amidst glorious East Anglian nature. There are times, though, when catching fish, and good fish count. When it's like this, the harder you work, the more fish of the stamp you want you are likely to catch.

Rest, you rust and any other cliché you can think of.

I've been fortunate enough in my long angling career, to observe many of the top match anglers at their work.


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What makes the very best guys special is the fact that they work so hard at what they are doing. Every second counts for them. And it was a bit like this for me on a recent tench session.

On the Wednesday, with a friend, David, we had tended just to chat, to let the day amble along and take its course. We didn't really experiment with rigs or bait and I guess we didn't put bait out with the frequency the tench were demanding. The result was that we caught two.

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The following day, I was on the same swim with Ian who is a bit more of a go-getter than David. He kept me up to the mark and we soon found a rig and bait that seemed to work and then we piled in the bait.

It was a full time job, believe me, and by the end of the day, I was completely shattered. I'd mixed the bait, put it out, worked the rods and I guess we deserved our tally of 26 tench. Quite a change round from day one.

I was down on Lyng Lake, too, just the other day watching the carpers go about their business. It's a common fallacy to think that all carp men simply retire to their bivvy with a bevy or two and sleep the hours away. Not Richard Smith. Even though his trolley is the size of a small car, he's always on the lookout for moving fish and getting round to them as quickly as his wheel and his legs will take him.

This particular morning his go-get action approach really worked for him. By the time he had made it halfway round the lake, cast out, put up his bed-chair, he was into a glorious common. An hour or so later, he landed a quite stunning pin-scaled mirror of just under 30 pounds.

I used to work for the creative team at that great tackle company Hardy, based in the north-east. As part of my job, I would be sent out with the England fly-fishing team to watch them compete at European and world level. I'd take the photographs and write up the events and I used to be blown away by men like Stuart Croft and Howard Croston who worked at their fly-fishing like dervishes. They were simply whirlwinds of energy, observation, skill and success.

I've also enjoyed the privilege to fish the sea with Henry Gilbey, a big name, especially down in the south-west.

It's hardly a wonder Henry catches more bass in a session than I've done in my entire life. Once again, he's happy to walk three or four miles at least to get to the marks that he wants. He'll climb down cliffs, clamber over rocks, wade till just his nose is still visible. He'll be collecting bait in the early hours and he will be up at any time to make sure that he catches the best of the tide.

There is absolutely simply nothing that Henry won't do to increase his chances of bass success.

So, the next time you pass an angler who might be lying there asleep, a line tied to his big toe, you will know that he's enjoying himself but that he's not always typical.

There are many anglers after a session whose muscles need a long, hot bath. And a massage wouldn't go amiss either.

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