Species that appreciate warmer water, particularly carp and tench, go from being just about catchable to 'well up for it'. For tench in particular the difference between one week and the next can be incredible, and so it was for us this year.

Normally I find it difficult to maintain my interest in a water for more than a few months, before I fancy a change, but the tench in my chosen lake are different. Not only are they big, and some are VERY big, but the lake's very nature makes the fishing really interesting. Virgin fish, behaving as they should do, lots of water for them to hide in and no other angling pressure, mean that the fishing is a voyage of discovery. The downside (although I actually look on it as a positive) is that from the sixteen degree threshold to the lake becoming choked with weed is only around eight weeks. Hence, when they are on I want to be there as much as possible. I see this as an advantage for me as I always fish best for short bursts of a few weeks of really intensive effort.

This year there were to be three of us fishing on a regular basis with a few other guests having the odd morning here and there. I was really looking forward to having a couple of other people to fish with as it would make it much easier to work out just what the fish were doing. The first session resulted in a blank all round, not overly surprising as the water was still a little cold. Week two saw the temperature rising steadily and a lot of tench showing out from our chosen area - I was confident that it was going to start happening.

One of the main things that I have learnt from these tench is that they can be very particular about what they eat. Classic tench baits, such as bread and corn, are ignored and boilies will sit and rot. I had this picture in my mind last year of the tench actually moving the boilies out of the way to get to their natural food, rather than bother eating the strange looking objects. If only I had known this a few years ago! Maggots, maggots and more maggots had been my main attack up until now, but the large amount of line bites I had been receiving using beds of spodded maggots in conjunction with a paternoster feeder rig had me wondering if I was really getting it right.

If you watched closely it was possible to make out that often the same tench would roll several times as it made it's way across the swim. Obviously, at fifty yards you cannot make out individuals by their shape or colour, but many of the fish would roll in a peculiar way, so you could say that they were one and the same fish. The speed that these fish moved was incredible. Often they would cross the swim in a matter of a couple of minutes. The bed of maggots had no effect on them. Sometimes they would have a little browse, but most of the time they would ignore it and keep going.

So, maggots were definitely the bait, but introducing lots of maggots wasn't going to be the best ploy, and might have been cutting my chances, rather than helping. How could I make my hook bait stand out and ensure that it was taken first? Last year I had caught a couple of fish by popping the hook bait up with a piece of foam six inches above a large Drennan feeder. It worked then, so was worth another try. So one rod was tied up with a helicopter rig, four inches of 6lb Invisiline flourocarbon, three maggots and a little piece of foam on a size 12 hook. The rig looked a little crude, not your typical tench rig, but what the hell, these were no ordinary tench.

The result was almost instantaneous, the next tench rolled it's way across the swim until it reached the baited spot. The indicator twitched, then inched it's way towards the rod, but never made it, as I was already in control. Next chuck I was still sinking the line when it pulled tight and I was in again. All the while the two conventionally rigged baits had remained untouched. Here we go!

The only further change I made was to introduce a bed of hemp, rather than maggots. The only maggots coming from the feeder, which would be recast at anything from ten minute intervals to every two hours depending on the mood of the tench. The idea with the hemp was that it would help draw the fish to the right area, but not compete with the maggots, as although tench will eat hemp, they do not gorge themselves on it in the same way that carp and barbel do. The results over the next few weeks were quite astounding and really showed the potential of the lake. Multiple catches of seven pounders became the norm, with eights and even nines coming out quite regularly. After three years my perseverance had begun to pay-off big style. All of the pieces of the puzzle had finally fallen into place to complete a quite amazing month of May.