One of the sport’s oldest and greatest debates – what is the nation’s favourite species of fish – has this week been settled after thousands of readers chose tench as their number one quarry.
In our Christmas issue we asked fishermen to put pen to paper to choose their most-liked species, and after several weeks of voting, tench narrowly edged their way into top spot, taking 24 per cent of the votes, ahead of pre-race favourites roach and carp.
The result may come as a surprise to sections of the angling community, with many suggesting before the voting opened that the rise of commercial fisheries would see carp walk away with the accolade. Anglers with an ‘old school’ mindset strongly believed that roach would take the title, with barely anyone mentioning tench in the pre-voting discussions.
One of the men who helped champion the cause for tench in our ‘species special’ edition three weeks ago was former Drennan Cup winner Dave Harman.
The Surrey-based rod said: "The variety of venues that can be targeted and the vast array of tactics that can be used to catch tench plays a big part in why they are the nation’s favourite fish.
"Targeting fish such as carp has lost some of its magic. All the big carp in this country are famous and named. Many of the large tench reported are unknown specimens that have been caught from venues that aren’t always renowned for monsters."
Several other figures from within the sport have moved to add their support to the nation’s decision, and Paul Thompson, vice chairman of The Tenchfishers group, told Angling Times: "It is a pleasant surprise that tench have topped the list, though it’s not hard to see why they are a firm favourite with anglers.
"They usually represent a fisherman’s first-ever ‘big fish’ and they are catchable from virtually every type of venue you can think of. The interest in tench fishing is increasing all the time and that can only be a good thing."
Competition for the runners-up spot was also fierce, with roach eventually taking second with 21.7 per cent of the votes, and carp taking the final podium placing on 14.8 per cent.
Four-times World Champ Bob Nudd was the main man fighting the corner for roach and admits he is amazed at the results: "I expected roach to be up near the top, and I think if it was pitched solely at match anglers then they would have won the ballot. I thought carp may have edged it, but I’m surprised tench came first, especially when you consider they are a species that are only really caught at certain times of the year."
l Turn to page 36 to read a classic feature with Martin Bowler about the nation’s favourite species – the tench.