June is over and, for one reason or another, I have not yet fished for tench. I love tench and all that comes with fishing for them. At least more traditional ways of fishing for them. Sure, they might not catch the bigger examples, ones that fall to bolt rigs or method feeders, but any tench hooked on float tackle will more than make up for this ‘lack of mass’ with their fight. What powerful and terrifying runs they make. I hoped that I would get to experience this, if only once, during a few hours float fishing in the margins. And I say traditional. I’ll hold my hands up now and say I left the centrepin at home. I even left the rod. Pole fishing is great for tench, allowing all the thrills of watching a float sway amongst pin prick bubbles, but also precise presentation. Invaluable when the fish are playing hard to get or the water is a pressured one. It does test your nerve somewhat when elastic streaks unstoppably from an increasingly arching pole but what fun.
I arrived early afternoon to find a largely empty venue. Rain was forecast so after a quick lap I got settled into my peg. The water in front of me was deep, a good twelve foot and I plumbed up towards the bottom of the shelf, where the lake bed undulated least. A good amount of pellets and sweetcorn was then fed. Enough to hopefully attract, but more importantly hold, one or two hungry tench in the area. Then over a well deserved cup of tea and a biscuit I let the swim settle whilst the first droplets of rain began to fall.
I expected a slow start but just half an hour after feeding I had my first bite. A slow, drawn out bite, not unlike a bream, though from the amount of elastic currently melting from the pole, this was certainly no bream. In the deep water, the fish ploughed around, not only do you have to contend with their X and Y movements but also Z, surface bound for a few feet before burying down with their heads and making the ground back. With patience and a little luck the fish tired but not before a few last ditch runs were observed upon her noticing the landing net. My reward was a lovely, fighting fit female tench of exactly 4lb 8oz. A great start and lovely to catch a fish so early from a venue that I have struggled on in the past.
I re-fed the swim before dropping the rig back into place. There had been no bubbles. No line bites. The bite itself came from nowhere. With tench obviously present, I expected to see some signs of life in the swim, but forty minutes drifted by without much circumstance. That is until I changed hookbait from corn to pellet. No sooner had the float settled, and the hookbait come to rest, I found myself in another tussle. A much slower encounter this time, at least for the start, so much so I was sure that this time I had in fact hooked a big bream, until that familiar power took over. The fish ran much further than the first. It did so not just on one but on three occasions. Heart pounding. I feared the worse as the fish headed for the sanctuary of an overhanging tree. With the pole tip kept low and my toes crossed, thankfully, the fish made an about turn back out into open water. Now I felt much more confident. The power began to lessen. The fish began to tire, steadily rising up inch by inch, towards the surface before appearing, a gulp of air, and she was beaten. In the net on the first time of asking. This was a much better tench than the last and, at 6lb 6oz, a cracking fish to catch on the pole.
Then came the frustration. Missed bites. At least seven in 90 minutes. It was more like fishing for the tench of late August, when they’ve been pressured, caught a few times and there is an abundance of natural food at their disposal. They were ever so timid putting the crucians I have been catching recently to shame. I persisted. I concentrated. After all, the next bite could see me into an even bigger fish than the last. I day dreamed about such an event but the reality didn’t play out to match. I left happy with my brace of tincas but cursed the many missed bites. I may have hooked more on bolt rigs but I knew it wouldn’t have been half as much fun, and anyway, there’s always next time. As always.
Thanks for reading and until next time,