In spite of living within relatively close proximity to the Grand Western Canal for a decade now, there are still parts of it that I have not fished properly. One area I have been meaning to try is a fair distance from any convenient access point, and has no recent track record that I am aware of. On Wednesday evening, I dropped by on the way home from work to take a look, and spent a few minutes raking an area in the middle of a bay.
Trying somewhere new and untested was quite a risky ploy considering that Ben Hennessy was making the not insignificant journey from South Wales to fish with me for canal tench. I could have taken him to any number of other areas where I knew the chance of tench to be high, but I am getting bored of the same old, so I really hoped that this unchartered area would produce the goods for him and offer just reward for his efforts in getting there.
Plumbing up revealed that the swim was a good six to eight inches deeper than the average depth in this canal. Whilst I tend to favour the shallower stretches early season, I could just imagine a few good tincas patrolling the dark drop-off just beyond the weed. We sat side-by-side so the initial feed was scattered over a small area and consisted of hemp just out of the flask, and a liberal sprinkling of red maggot. A couple of nuggets of chopped worm in soil completed the job.
I had a few plump rudd quite quickly but there were no signs of tench for a couple of hours, and Ben was biteless. We spotted some fizzing 20-30 yards away where the bay began to narrow and Ben decided to give it a go, despite the thick weed present there. It wasn't too long however, before I was alerted by some splashing and could see him bringing a decent fish over the landing net. It was a rudd, and a good one too, at an ounce over a pound. He persevered for the tench but the view was that they were tucked away in, or underneath, the dense greenery.
I had also gone off temporarily to explore other areas but, with only a small rudd to show for it, I returned to the first choice swim in the bay and lightly trickled a few maggots in here and there. I had a perch and another rudd, before - wallop - a slow, deliberate bite followed by a thumping sensation, as a battling tench kicked through the weed. I did somewhat hope that a big bream might be responsible, but those classic, rolling swirls gave the game away and a tench of four pounds or so was eventually coaxed from the canal and into my lap to be unhooked.
After that, Ben joined me in the raked swim again, and was next in with a tench that fought even harder. He was understandably delighted (and I breathed a sigh of relief) when he landed an immaculate fish of a scratch over five pounds. It must have been four inches thick. We had another smaller fish each, and Ben lost what seemed a very good tench in the weed, before time ran out on our brief morning session and my guest had to make the long journey home.
Reflecting on the session, there was a great deal more activity in the weedy, narrowing area, and this is perhaps where my preparation and our session should have concentrated. That said, the fish seemed to start moving out of this area and into the deeper water in the bay as the day got brighter, and five fish hooked from one swim is certainly not bad going.