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Sometimes when you go fishing, you're in the zone. Focussed, concentrated, knowing exactly what you're about - in tune with the fishing. Other times, you're not. Last night I thought I was, but turned out to be tuned only to static.

I arrived at the river late - about 7.00pm. This was by design. The day had been another hot one, and the fish would be sluggish. Because of the weed on the bottom I was going to float fish and try and trip the bait just above the weeds. Cheese paste again. Sigh. When am I going to give up on this dog's backside of a bait? I added flour to try and stiffen it up but by the time I got to the waterside it was soggy again and the first knock was taking it off the hook. I persevered. Kneaded it until I thought it had a better consistency. Made no difference.

Lots of bites then, but nothing very definite and tossing tiny portions into the swim showed small roach coming up from mid water to knock the bait back and forth. Too small to even take a size 16.

But I carried on. The temperature dropped and things became more comfortable, but nothing felt right. I was making basic mistakes, getting tangled up with my centrepin, not controlling the float properly. A kingfisher flashed by about 8.30pm and I decided to move. First cast in a new swim produced the best bite of the evening - a tiny chub about the length of my finger. I have small fingers.

Eventually I retired to the pool below the bridge where earlier I'd seen the shapes of both roach and chub, but I'd left it too late and couldn't see the float properly. As I said, I was rubbish.

So here's a photo of someone who wasn't rubbish. Who fished, in fact, rather well, and was rewarded with this - a tench of about 4lbs, almost black, and in near perfect condition. I left Ray where I had first seen him, hunkered down into the bank, almost invisible from the field, peering at his quiver tip.

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