ishing for tench this summer and unsure on what bait to use? To help you narrow your choices down we've asked Paul Garner to give us his best methods and bait to help you catch more tench while fishing. See below for the best tench fishing baits and tips for the summer.
Now's the time to catch a big tench, and gravel pits are the best places to do it.
Even though the fishing can at times be frustrating as the fish roll and bubble with abandon, yet hardly give a flicker on the float or bobbin, don’t despair – there is often a very simple answer to this problem, simply by using the right bait…
It’s often claimed that gravel pit tench become harder to catch the further into summer we go. I think this is down to preoccupation with natural food.
As summer continues the density of invertebrates rises by the day, giving the tench a limitless larder. Why eat a lump of bread flake, or a boilie, when they are surrounded by natural food?
Interestingly, I have followed a couple of venues for more than a decade that have developed into big-carp fisheries. I was expecting the tench to tune in to the quantities of boilies being fed right through the year, but no.
Except for a brief window in the early spring when the tench do fall for bright pop-ups, they have steadfastly remained hooked on naturals.
I’m not saying this happens on every tench fishery, but certainly on venues with a low stock of fish and high levels of natural food you could be waiting a long time before getting a bite on some baits.
Fortunately, there is an answer, and a very simple one at that.
The invertebrates that tench feed on are mainly bloodworm and caddis fly larvae. You can see why tench can be so difficult to catch – just look in the margins of a rich gravel pit. The bottom will be crawling with life as the cased caddis, carrying their tube-like homes woven from bits of reed stem and sand, crawl around looking for food.
How do we go about mimicking this natural larder? One answer, rarely employed in the UK but popular in Europe, is to collect and use caddis larvae as a hookbait.
I can see the logic to this but I would also worry that my hookbait would simply be the needle in one enormous haystack of grub. Fortunately, maggots, casters and worms provide a good enough alternative to be eaten by the most finicky of tench.
HORSES FOR COURSES
I find red maggots are very effective on the venues I fish – they are easy to use and can be stored for a few days. I will have some large dendrobaena worms with me too, as a change bait, should the need arise.
Worms are my first line of attack on older, siltier lakes. These venues tend to have tench that feed mainly on bloodworm, and I guess this is why worms will outscore everything else.
If silver fish are a nuisance, casters are my go-to bait, with a matching artificial hookbait. The tench don’t mind the plastic but the silverfish will certainly be less of a problem. Casters would be my first choice if I had good tench fishing close to home, as storing them on the bank would not be a problem. As I tend to travel a fair way for good tenching, though, storing casters becomes an issue.
All three of my chosen baits will work just fine as they come at this time of the year.
Tench, from my observations, are very visual feeders, so they will home in on a spread of bait on the bottom without further encouragement.
If you want to try flavouring your baits, particularly maggots, there is only one additive that I will use at this time of the year - Shellfish Sense Appeal, a real humdinger that only needs to be used in minute quantities.
Try adding half a teaspoonful to a pint of maggots to give them a strong shellfish smell. On a tough day I think this extra flavour can make a difference, so it’s worth having a bottle in your bait bag.
A secure way of fishing worms on either the float or feeder is to hair-rig them between two Quick Stops held in position in a large loop on the hair. To pop up your bait, simply add a disc of rig foam.
Pop them up
Tench will often cruise around several feet off the lakebed and cover a lot of ground quickly. If they are in a feeding mood they will drop down to investigate any bait on the bottom.
Normally, I introduce roughly equal quantities of hemp and my chosen hookbait. The hemp is likely to be picked up and blown out by the tench many times over the course of a session. Some will be eaten, but the rest will keep the fish browsing for quite a long time.
The maggots, worms or casters are there to get the tench feeding harder. There’s no need to fill it in. A couple of pints of bait are plenty for a morning session.
One trick that often brings bites much faster than normal is to pop the hookbait up. When fishing maggots this is normally achieved by sandwiching a sliver of rig foam between two or three maggots on the hook.
Rubber casters are naturally buoyant, so use just enough to counteract the weight of the hook. Worms can be injected with air, but I prefer to hair- rig them with a small disc of rig foam to add buoyancy. The foam also acts as a buffer on the cast.
Whether you are fishing a float in the margins, or casting to distant gravel bars with a feeder, using these three baits will prove the key to unlocking gravel pit tench.
Give it a go, you will not be disappointed.