A faltering start to the tench trail (Entry 40)

Well I had my first tench fishing session a few days ago. It’s been a long time coming with the long winter we have had so as you can imagine I was full of anticipation. Over the next month or so I would love to up my PB which has stood at a little over 6lb for many years but I will be honest and say that I have never specifically set out to catch big tench before. I have had many sessions where I set out to target tench but never one where my aim is to single out and catch big fish. So with my target weight set at 8lb a few weeks ago I began planning, researching and getting any items or tackle I required for the campaign.  I knew which water I would be fishing so I had a good base to plan around.

My chosen water is a little over six acres in size with the average depth being eight to ten feet, with areas to nearly twenty. A heavily undulating bottom will mean marker float work to find bars and drop offs will be vital. Once an areas is found with a relatively clean bottom, I will present two or three fake maggots on a short hooklength, fished below an inline maggot feeder, a simple set up but a proven big tench catcher. On the bait front I planned to go down the natural approach, using hemp, small pellets and either maggot or caster, the last two dictated by the cleanliness of the bottom; maggots if it was fairly clear and casters if there was a little weed. I would also have a few worms with me as a change bait. On the day before my first session though I decided that all that needed to change. It was one of those times when you get blinded by something and all reasoning goes out of the window. More of that later.


On arriving at the venue I was greeted by a strong southerly wind. A warm wind though, and with the water generally being very clear, I decided to start of by fishing the windward bank where the water would hopefully have a little more sediment, as it got disturbed by the wind or undertow. I found swim with good depth and a choice of fishing two areas, both on slopes, one with a clear bottom and one with a covering of silkweed. I clipped up to ensure I would be hitting the same spot every time I cast.

Now, here’s where I had a change of heart the day before. My bait choice. Gone were the naturals replaced with 10mm boilies, chopped boilies, crushed fishmeal’s and various size pellets, effectively scaled down carp tactics. The reason for the change was a chance conversation I overheard in the tackle shop where a carp angler had being ‘plagued’ with big tench from a similar water to the one I would be fishing. How easily I was swayed and I went home and re-tied some rigs to suit, put the ‘magic’ bait in the bait bucket and loaded the car for my early start. Well, I was now on the bank and as quickly as my mind had been changed in the shop the day before, so the confidence drained away, as I realised I had made a mistake.

I should have been fishing for bites, getting an idea if there was tench of any size feeding, if I was in the right area, and honing my rigs for that magic time the fish decided to switch on, when those big tincas are in the mood for triple caster. But I was here now so I would give it my best shot. I fished both rods on rigs with inline leads and introduced the feed and rig via solid PVA bags. I cast every two hours or so throughout the day. Each cast made me wish more and more I had stuck to my original plan. I had learnt a valuable lesson.


The session itself ended without a bite. I didn’t see any fish roll at dusk although having said that, to see anything through the huge waves would have required super human abilities. I did enjoy the session though, the countryside that the water is set in is idyllic. I’ve never spent a few hours in such a tranquil place so fishing here over the next few months is not going to be a problem at all. I was paid a visit by hungry swan a few times who was busy sifting through the sediment and weed by my feet in the shallow margins. All in all apart from the squally showers it was a lovely day.

So the lesson in this story? Stick to what you have planned. You will have more confidence and will fish better as a result. We will all inevitably make wrong decisions at some point, its just a case of taking them away and learning from them. I know I have. Onward and upwards from here. Next week this water will be closed for fishing, so I’ll be back in two weeks time and this time be fishing the right bait and method, both for the fish and me.

Until next time,



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