Whilst you can taste the change in the environment in April, it isn't until May that the days stretch out and the first week or two of good weather puts in an appearance. The fishing can also be superb, and, with a multitude of species to aim for, it can be easy to become spoilt for choice. This May was no different to several that I have enjoyed since the relaxation of the old close season on stillwaters. With good weather and a few nice fish mixed in, it feels like the year has really kicked off now.

This year I had one thought on my mind at the beginning of the month - tench. Not any old tench either. I have written about the lake that has occupied my tench fishing before, and I still feel that it has an awful lot of secrets left to be discovered. I was determined though not to make the same mistake as last year and begin my tench fishing too soon. No, this year I would wait for as long as it took for the water temperature to creep up to the mid-teens centigrade. Only then would I start my campaign. As it turned out, this would take until well into the second week of the month, giving me the chance to reach another milestone in my angling career.

I find big bream an interesting target, particularly as there are several potential venues within a short distance of my house, not something that can be said for many species. So the beginning of May saw me continuing my early season bream fishing. Over the last couple of years I would normally have moved on to new targets by this time, but with the cold conditions it was bream or bust.

Surprisingly, very few anglers were targeting the bream on my local Melton pit this Spring with any regularity. One swim in particular caught my eye during my regular evening walks as not having been fished for several weeks. Now the bream on this pit can be relied upon to visit the same swims on a regular basis, so I felt sure that the lack of anglers in this area would only help increase the chances of catching a few fish. This was confirmed on my first few trips in April as a string of good fish came to the net. By May I had a total of 46 double figure bream to my name and the thought of reaching the half-century had certainly crossed my mind. What I wasn't prepared for was that I would reach my target on my first trip of the month.

I suppose I should have realised that it was going to be a hectic night when the first fish, a ten pounder picked up a mini-boilie before dark, something I have rarely encountered here. For once everything went right and fish followed fish until by the early hours of the morning a gorgeously solid fish of twelve pounds and two ounces was landed, completing my goal. Although more fish were there to be caught I was happy to wind in and enjoy the moment. After all, specimen fishing is all about reaching self-imposed targets like this, and I like to make the most of them as they don't happen every day!

You need to make the most of any sudden opportunities that occur in your fishing, and the next week or so of the month was spent chasing such an unexpected bonus. My good friend Stuart Clough was catching some huge roach from a small lake in Hampshire and had invited me to visit. A couple of days were arranged and I was off. Big roach are still in my mind the real fisherman's fish. Not the biggest, or the hardest fish to catch, but much more of a cornerstone of my fishing heritage. I have grown up fishing with anglers who travelled to the Suffolk Stour, the Hampshire Avon and the Kennet in search of monster roach, and they succeeded. All of those rivers are now a shadow of their former selves, at least as far as their roach fishing is concerned. Roach, and particularly big roach, are now an extremely scarce prize.

After a winter spent ledgering it was great to be fishing a waggler float again. I love the active fishing, the concentration required to fish and feed and swim effectively with the float, although it is something I do less often than perhaps I would like. Despite the fish caught on that first morning being small, I felt totally absorbed in the fishing, trying to anticipate the tiny bites and sudden jabs of the float. After work I returned and, as if by magic, the float lifted more positively and the sullen resistance on the end of my line could mean only one thing. The carp angler to my left happily obliged with the camera, and was troubled twice more in the next hour as I managed to nick a couple more fish before the shoal moved on. The next day I returned home earlier than expected, happy with those three fish for my efforts.

We had yet to reach the mid-way mark of the month but still, if I hadn't received another bite I would have been happy! Little was I to realise that the best was yet to come. But we will leave that story until next time.