Ever since I can remember the tench has been one of my favourite fish. When I was younger I used to read tales of anglers setting off to estate lakes on the magical 16th with hemp, worm and casters in the hope of catching them. Well a lot has changed since then, in terms of how people fish for tench and when, but once thing has remained, I still absolutely adore them and fishing for them.
With the joining of a new fishing club in January this year tench fishing has been at the forefront of my mind, one or two of the venues the club offers hold some truly huge tench, eight and nine pound fish being caught fairly frequently by people wanting to put some effort into their fishing. However, there has also been some tench caught of over ten pounds. To me that is something I just can’t ignore and I have decided to start to get to know one of these waters in the hope that I can up my personal best before the weather turns autumnal. Admittedly, I have probably already missed the best time for tench fishing, that being the spring, but whatever information and experiences I can glean this year will only go in my favour next. Anyway, on with the first session.
Arriving at 4:00pm I had a walk down the west bank to find that there was nobody on any of the pegs. There was four other anglers on the opposite bank, which on the day was the windward bank, but as it was a fairly cool north-westerly I decided to pick the swim featured in the photo above in the hope the fish would be on the back of the wind. I could also watch the other anglers for signs of fish on that bank and move accordingly if needed.
I fished a margin swim with a trusty lift method set up but stepped up a little due to quite thick weed beds. If I hooked any fish I wanted to give myself a chance to get them through the weed they would undoubtedly head for. I found an area two-thirds of the way down the shelf in about 10 feet of water that was fairly clear of weed. I baited here with hemp and 4mm pellets plus a few pieces of corn. My plan was to feed the corn little and often to create a scattered bed that would hopefully be visually attractive to passing tench but also get them moving round the swim looking for similar bait. The last thing I wanted was for them to become preoccupied with picking out the hemp as tench can sometimes do.
For four hours the only thing that seemed to be feeding in the margin was this cygnet. He was happily enjoying sifting through the weed and picking out any tasty naturals that he could find whilst his parent kept watch on the strange creature sat motionless on the bank a few metres from him.
I had my first take just after 8:30pm as the light levels started to dip and, as long as you counted ounces as the unit in question, this tench was certainly a double. But at 12 ounces was possibly one of the smallest in the venue. Still, I’d caught my target species, and the fish had obviously located my bait.
The next bite followed just a few minutes after and brought with it a run of bad luck (bad angling) that had me scratching my head in dismay. I hooked and lost five tench in the next hour, two of which felt very big, certainly bigger than any tench I had hooked previously. My personal best stands at 6lb 7oz. I was a little annoyed to say the least and another 1lb tench landed in almost total darkness did little to help lift my spirits.
But looking back on the session now I have some positives to take from it. My baiting approach worked, the fish obviously will feed in the margins late and so I assume early too, and I’ve confirmed to myself that there are some big fish in there. I shall certainly be planning a campaign come spring. But theres still time fo another visit or two in the coming weeks.
Until next time,