If there’s one species that is associated with spring more than any other, it’s the tench.
Certainly among the UK’s most beautiful fish species, tench love all stillwaters and come in a variety of different hues, influenced by the colour of the water in which they live. They are known for their hard-fighting qualities so don’t be tempted to fish too fine, especially if you’re presenting a bait close to weed and lilies, where they like to live.
Pole fishing is productive, and you’ll catch well on the feeder too, but nothing beats watching a float sat close to a patch of lilies. At this time of year, early and late are the best times to go in search of tench.
Try to get to your water at first light or late in the afternoon, although sometimes you will catch in the heat of the day. As the tench season progresses the bigger fish, especially those that have been caught a few times, may become wary of big baits and you will then catch more with maggots and casters.
Tench love sweetcorn, but instead of using corn directly on the hook, it is often better to
hair-rig it, even when floatfishing. Two pieces of hair-rigged corn like this will be picked up without hesitation by a big tench when fished on the bottom.
Presenting your hookbait in this fashion will also help convert more bites into fish, as the hookpoint cannot be masked by the bait. Yellow corn is always favoured at the start of the tench season, but many big fish have also been taken on sweetcorn that’s been dyed red, especially when it’s fished over a red groundbait such as Van den Eynde Expo.
As far as hooks are concerned, use something like a size 14 or 12 strong, wide-gape pattern with a slightly inturned point that will stay in once the fish is hooked.
A mixture of chopped worm, micro pellets, casters and maggots provides a brilliant bed of bait for luring tench. But you can’t possibly catapult it in. This is when combining pole and waggler really works.
Use your pole cup to deposit this mix beyond the marginal shelf where tench patrol, then you can still use the traditional ‘lift method’ on your waggler rod over the top.
As the season progresses, you sometimes need to think outside the box where bait is concerned for tench. Tench start to get caught on some strange baits as they feed more readily. Marzipan and macaroni cheese are worth a go, probably because of their yellow colour.
Make yourself a weed rake to scrape the bottom clear of weed and debris, and to stir it up. Simply take two rake heads, stick them back to back using cable ties and attach a long, strong rope. Throw it into your swim, allow it to sink and drag it back slowly to sweep the bottom. Once you have finished, introduce some pellets, hemp, corn or casters to hold the fish.
When fishing the pole line, always cup your feed in. Tench love to feed over a bed of bait, and having it all in one neat pile will help increase the numberof bites you get. Marginal lily beds are a perfect place to start, as tench love nothing better than to patrol around the stems.
Start your session by introducing half-a-dozen balls of a rich, sweet groundbait containing lots of particles and leave it alone for a while until hopefully you see signs of fish in the swim. Tench will often show themselves by rolling at the surface. When you see this, lower a pole rig over your feed and you’ll soon catch.
After feeding a swim for tench, watch for tell-tale ‘pinprick’ bubbles appearing at the surface. These are created by the fish rooting around the bottom for food and expelling air through their gills.
Fish a decent-sized bait among the bubbles and you’re likely to get a bite within minutes. Just make sure you feed a variety of different food to ensure the fish do not become preoccupied with just one offering. This can happen, especially if you are feeding micro-pellets