Social and Specialist Angling are a group of like-minded anglers based in the Thames valley area of the Southern United Kingdom who have been fishing together for several years now. The general idea of the club is to be a small membership organisation, a specimen group if you prefer.

The Four Seasons Cup is a new fixture on the club’s calendar for 2010.  As the name suggests the cup spans the calendar year and is made up of 4 matches targeting species most associated with the time of year. The first match was to target Pike on Reading & District’s Whistley Mill lake. This time the target species was to be tench from Wylies lake.

Wylies lake between Thatcham and Newbury lies in the improbable location of behind a leisure and bowling centre. It’s one, reed lined bank features such hazzards as maneuvering cars and escaping children – and the occasional call of the bowling announcer “Number 30 to the burger bar” all make first impressions mixed at best.

However a brief moment to watch the lake, or to walk it’s shady banks, will reveal a sight seldom seen in these days where most lakes seem to have a significant head of carp present; that sight being large dark shapes cruising the upper layers or bubbles fizzing off reeds as if Neptune himself were doing the dishes. The signs that drive me personally into another world; a world of beady red eyes, of slimey golden green skin; of fights to make your knees go weak. The signs of arguably one of our isle’s most enigmatic of fish. Tinca tinca, the Tench.

SAS2wyliesmashup.jpgAnyway, enough romantism on my part!

The first round of the 4 Season’s Cup was a full attendance event and a good time was had by all, even those who failed to bank the quarry of that day : Pike. Sadly the second leg saw a much depleted field meeting in the Reading & District Angling Association venue car park at the alloted time of 6am. Will, Sy, Vin and Ian was the full starting lineup and the formalities of drawing pegs was instantly dropped and saw Will and Ian setting up on the reed lined North bank; Vin dropping into one of the first few swims on the West bank and myself heading for the South Western corner, an area that had produced fish for me on a recent visit.


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From the off it was very obvious that the tench in the venue were all on the frisky side of things. The lake is pretty deep for 3 of it’s 4 sides with little or no shallow margin areas. It has plenty of overhanging trees giving lots of deep, branch covered areas right at the bank which normally have a fair few fish out of angler’s way holed up. Today though these areas were chock full of spawning fish. Coupled with the forecast scorcher, we figured we were all in for a fairly hard time of it.

Vin was employing his tried and tested method feeder w/corn approach, something that has worked for him with great effect on previous visits, resulting in a fine catch list from the venue in the last year. And so it was that he was first to open an account with a good fish coming mid morning. I was quick to follow Vin’s lead with a fish falling to lobworm off some submerged branches, however it wasn’t a Tench but a nice Perch of approaching a pound and a half in weight.

SAS2will6lb11oztench.jpg Stuart arrived late morning after a delayed start involving a drive up from the South Coast, he duly dropped into the North West corner peg, 2 down from Vin and setup a pole outfit resulting in a run of healthy perch from early on. Ian and Will were seeing some movement and interest but not much was occuring in their sheltered end of the venue. I had decided to come fairly light so that I could move around between a selection of swims, as much as to try to escape the full blow torch glare of the sun as to find the fish. Find the fish I did however in a fairly shallow swim on the South bank. They were exhibiting a lot of spawning behaviour but I figured that if I placed a lobworm fairly close in, between 2 stands of bushes growing over and in the lake, that I may pickup one of the many fish darting across the swim.

With my single rod laid on the ground, tip just protruding over the edge of the bank, myself well back I was going for the minimal disturbance approach. So what I was doing on my phone merrily talking to Vin about his second fish when my bait was picked up was anyone’s idea. Quickly dropping the phone I was onto the rod and into the fish, but too late as it had gone under the trees to my left. Stupid stupid stupid I hear you cry. Well with some pressure the fish came free and I enjoyed about 10 seconds of free water fight, a strong one at that, before the big girl snagged me in the branches to the right. The ping of snapping monofilament and resultant shouted expletive that raised birds from the tops of nearby trees informed the others of my loss. After a period of retooling I repositioned my bait and hoped I hadn’t totally stuffed it up.

Meanwhile on the bank opposite Will’s fortune had turned green with a very respectable female of 6lb 11oz (a new pb by 15oz) coming to his tactics of method feeder w/polony on the hook. From my swim almost directly opposed to him I could just see a lustrous flash of golden belly as the net was lifted from the water. Beautiful!


After a 2nd unfortunate lost fish, this one not hooking properly and simply falling off on the strike, my ambush tactic finally came good around 2pm with a chunky male fish of 5lb 1oz.

Ian, who had decided to fish a random swim for the first time, was perhaps suffering from his choice as his baits remained unmolested for the entirety of the match. Stuart also was not having any luck on the Tench front either, though in the heavy tree overhung area to his left the fish were at it all day. Vin on the other hand was showing us all how it’s done on the venue, and not for the first time either, as he landed his third green giant of the session and so securing his victory in this leg.

As the appointed time for the end of the match approached it looked as though Vin may actually cap it all with a 4th fish but sadly it unfortunately came off midway thru the fight, reason unknown. No matter as when the whistle blew at 4pm the second leg of the SAS Angling 4 Seasons Cup was over with Vin winning and taking the max 10 points, Will took 9 for his second place and myself 8 for third

Sy Heighes