The night was upon me but at least I had sorted out the mud problem by putting wood under the bedchair legs to stop me sinking into the soft ground. Despite the line bites the first real bite did not occur until just before midnight when the rod cast to the bush gave a few bleeps on the buzzer and then indicator was in the butt. No more line was taken but I struck and found myself connected to a good fish. On the light tackle it gave a good account of itself, pulling hard in the deep margins. As it broke surface I was pleased with the size but I thought it was a small carp. I was then delighted to find in the bottom of the net a plump tench.

The barbless size 8 hook was deeply in its bottom lip but soon fell out. The tench, a female, was in perfect condition but a little empty, not surprising given the dreadful winter weather. At 5lb 8oz though I was delighted with this winter tench. It had no marks on it at all, as I stated last week the tench are rarely fished for and therefore not often caught.

I slipped it back into the freezing cold water and recast another small stringer, then topped up the spot with more trout pellets. The line bites started again an hour or so later but it was the other rod cast to the bottom of the marginal shelf that gave the next strikeable bite. A similar one to the tench, the indicator rising to the butt and staying there. Again I connected with the thud, thud of a tench but unfortunately the hook pulled after a few seconds.

Again I recast, topping up the area with trout pellets and shortly after the rain started again. All went quiet around the lake, and in it! Finally the constant noise of the M25 ceased to just the odd passing drone. Itís amazing how far the noise of motorways travel, the lake is by no means right next to the motorway but still the noise takes over. On the lake the pair of swans finally went to sleep up in the far bay leaving me so stare out across the lake, reluctant to close my eyes in the anticipation of more action.

I had to wait though and when it did come I had fallen asleep. At just after 4 am the bush rod was away again, this time no mistaking the bite, a single tone rang out from the buzzer as line was ripped off the baitrunner. A swift strike met with resistance again and another good fight ensued. A better fight this time with the fish leading me a merry dance around the swim. I was surprised therefore when I netted another tench but an obviously smaller one. I expected it to be a male but it was another female taking the scales to just over 4lb. Still, it was in excellent condition and after a few moments admiring it in the torchlight, back it went. The skies were beginning to lighten by the time I recast and I knew I only had an hour to get another chance but unfortunately that was the end of the action, the carp had avoided me for now.

I packed up and returned to the car, getting over the obstacle of a fallen tree. I had parked the car on a slight slope on the grassy bank but I did not anticipate the next problem. Car loaded I wandered up to the gate and unlocked it and left it open returning to the car. All I had to do was negotiate a few yards of grassy slope before the hardcore track started again, a little bit of revs and let the clutch out slowly, but no movement. The front wheels spun furiously and bedded into the soft ground, I tried again to no avail, not an inch did the car move. So, inspecting the scene, I got some old bits of wood and some stones but it made no difference. In the end I let the car roll back down the slope slightly before traversing the slope and getting traction off the undergrowth to the side of the slope, dead plants and bushes disappearing under the bonnet as I slipped and struggled back on to the track. At last I was on firm ground and got out in quick time.

You would have thought I had learned but a few days later I was back after a day of snow and cold rain. I drove straight back down the track and intended to stop at the end of the hard surface - but I went a couple of feet too far and found I could not reverse back out. This time I tried bits of board and some old roof tiles but still I could not get back onto the track. I even tried putting my unhooking mat under the wheels but nothing worked. Finally by doing seemingly the daftest thing I managed to get out. I drove forward further into the mud and quickly put the car into reverse and forced my way out getting onto the track round the side, again destroying dead bushes. This time I would learn my lesson.

The day was pleasant enough though, so all sorted, I took all the gear back to the same swim which was still pretty muddy.

Before I set up for the carp and tench I set up a spinning set up with a small Mepps spinner and short wire trace tied to braided mainline and had a few cast round in an overgrown bay after the perch. The first half dozen casts in various areas and depths produced nothing but on a retrieve close in and slow, the rod tip pulled around and a thud was felt through the rod. I pulled gently and found myself connected to a nice fish. The thudding down the line showed it was no pike and sure enough a nice perch rolled over. It was tiring nicely when the spinner parted company with the perch just a few feet from the bank and it disappeared into the murky water. The perch was probably over just over 2lb and I was a little disappointed as you can imagine. I tried a few more casts but I knew a lost perch means the end of any action from its brethren.

Next week Iíll carry on with the results of that nightís session.

Have fun!