Time For Tench - Matthew Fernandez
A double figure tench has been hot on my radar for a long time. So this spring I wanted to put 110% effort into my tench fishing. Half the battle is finding the venues which hold these mythical creatures, but fortunately i'm a member of a syndicate which holds such specimens so it's just down to me to try and achieve my dream. After catching the specimen crucian I was after I was hyped to start my tench fishing. My first session was towards the end of April, early for some tench Angler's but I was keen as mustard.
With limited time to fish I do all my preparation such as rig tying and bait prep at home, so when I finally get to fish I can fish hard without having to waste time on the bank. I'm also lucky enough to finish work at 12.30pm so with all my rods set up, rigs tied and bait prepped I flew down to my syndicate. I arrived to an empty lake, giving me the pick of swims, the weather had been mild and it still was so I was hoping the tench would be active and they'd give themselves away. After I walked the lake I couldn't see any signs of tench so I opted to drop in an area where I'd caught from previously. Even though I had the swim mapped out I still like to lead about just in case I found a new, favourable spot. To my surprise i didn't find any new weed growth or any new spots so stuck to my original spots from previous sessions. I applied several large Spombs of hemp and maggot to a spot about 30 yards out and fished two maggot feeders with artificial casters as hookbaits over the top. For my third rod I dropped it in close and fishedthe Method feeder with a small boilie, knowing that the tench regularly trip up to the carp anglers.
With the rods fishing and bait over each rod I sat back and dreamed of what lay ahead for me this spring. One of the rods over the bed of maggot and hemp tore off, lifting into the rod I could tell it was a tench due to the tell-tale head shaking. This fish really gave a good account of itself. She was soon in the back of my net though and I thought to myself how I missed catching tench! They really do pull back. She was fin perfect with not a mark on her, the needle swinging over 8lb+ I was over the moon with my first tench of the season from the syndicate.
I thought my luck would be in getting one so early on in the session, but I didn't get a single bleep for the rest of the session. I woke up at first light and sat there in anticipation of a bite, but it just didn't happen and I had to be home for 7am, so I headed home with just the one tench that trip. Happy to have opened my 2017 tench account I was keen to get back to the syndicate, but with work and family commitments it didn't happen for a while. Though I had a social in the pipeline with my good mate mark, fishing with a like-minded angler and the chance of a tench, what more could you want? Time dragged and work days passed, soon enough it was time to get back down the lake, this time with my mate Mark. I was buzzing! Although the weather had other ideas we'd had a mild March and start to April, but no, the weather gods had other ideas, they wanted to chuck us some freezing cold North Easterly winds and temps as low as zero! Unphased by it we still decided to fish. I arrived on the Wednesday with Mark due to arrive at first light Thursday. I situated myself in a swim I'd been trickling bait into. Usually I don't like to put all my eggs into one basket but with the low temps and Baltic winds I figured fishing over my baited areas would be a good start, unless the tench gave me some other signs to move on to. One rod on an open end cage feeder fished Heli-style with a short supple boilie rig aremd with a Complex-T boilie. I fished this on a margin spot about 8ft deep, the spot was solid bottomed where the fish had been feeding on it too and with that solid drop I was happy! For the other two rods I fished them about 20 yards out, again on a spot i'd been baiting, fishing the same Heli set-ups but one with corn and the other with artificial casters. I then balled out some groundbait which also had crushed and whole 12mm Complex-T boilies added to it along with corn, hemp and pellet. After baiting up both areas I began to set up my brolly. Whilst doing this I'd already started to receive a few good liners on the margin spot. I knew it wouldn't take long for the rod to tear off and I was right, soon in to the first tench of the trip, it lasted all of a minute before the hook pulled. Gutted! You don't want to be losing tench from this water! I soon had the rod back out and was licking my wounds when the liners began again, re-igniting my hope. Again the rod tore off, but sadly not a tench as a carp was the culprit. I re-baited the area before re-casting the rod, and to my surprise the liners started again! They must have been grouped up down there. I sat watching and waiting for a bite to materialise and soon enough it did, again I was into a tench, a big one at that. She showed early on in the fight and gave a good account of herself before the hook pulled - AGAIN! I took action this time and changed my rig by shortening the hooklink and creating a shorter Hairs while upping my hook size. More confident with the boilie rig I re-cast it back out to the area. Sadly the liners had diminished, as did my confidence. The sun had dropped along with the temparature and as per usual I had under-packed and left my warm clothes at home so I retired to my sleeping bag early, which I'd also forgotten to layer up more. That night was brutally cold and I barely slept. I still woke at first light to look for signs of tench, but saw nothing, other than the odd carp, which rudely took one of my hookbaits intended for the tench. Mark soon arrived and we began our social. I put Mark onto an area I knew had form and in true style he landed three cracking tench to 7lb, sadly losing one of the bigger girls while I had a bite from an 8lb female around midnight.
No other bites fell to our rods, but we had a cracking social. Again my time was limited so I fished the odd work night. Fishing work nights meant I got to the lake late and had to be off by 6am to get to work. I'm not going to lie, I struggled. I only landed a small 5lb male and every time I left the tench were fizzing up on my spots. It was hard to stomach and for the first time in a long time I began to lose the buzz. By this time we were in May and I knew my chances of a double were running out. I was due to get married on the 1st of June so I had loads to do for it as well as my work and other family commitments. Time flew by and the lack of fishing was sickening but I ended up dropping on a new venue with a mate again for a social. New to the water I didn't know too much other than what my mate had told me. It was a very weedy water covered in blanket weed. The lake was busy so we just dropped in where we could. I had a lead about, but struggled to find any clear spots and with the swim being tight it restricted me from casting around too much.
By this time it was 7pm so I just clipped up both rods to the same distance and fished on top of the blanket weed with maggot feeders Heli-style and short hooklinks moved up the leadcore about 12ins. I fished chopped worm on one and maggots on the other. Both rods were close together and I also Spombed out some Red Krill groundbait mixed with hemp, maggot and chopped worm to the area. I was shattered from a days work, so I just sat back and took it all in. I could see tench rolling around the lake and different patches of bubbles pluming up here and there. I was confident in my approach and just hoped a tench would slip up. I began to receive liners on both rods, which was promising. Usually I'd re cast regularly with maggot feeders but as I was getting liners I opted to leave the rods, knowing feeding fish could be present. Out of nowhere my left rod absolutely screamed off and I lifted into my first fish from the venue. Sadly the fish had other ideas and weeded me up solid before the hook pulled. Gutted by the loss but also confident of another bite I recast the rod back out to the spot and brought in the other rod also changing this to a worm hookbait and re cast that rod back out to the baited area. The liners picked up again, as did my heart rate and again the left rod was away. This time I put more pressure on, not letting it gain too much line on me. After a good scrap I slipped the net under my first tench from the venue. My mate came over and helped me weigh and photograph it before I returned her back to her home. I was buzzing. A lovely dark 6lb+ tench from a new venue. Stroll on.
With the light slowly fading by this point we were due to leave soon but another tench made an appearance before we left and it was a real plump female which spun the dial to 7lb 11oz.
Buzzing with the results from a short evening session we set off home. I was shattered from work and I had to be up early for my stag do, a weekend away on a carp lake with seven of my mates, perfect! Although I was excited, the thought of tench were still embedded in my mind. My stag do went really well and we had a great laugh and a cracking social with the odd drink and undercooked BBQ food with some bonus carp landed by all except one lad, but in all it was a top weekend. I even managed to up my carp personal best to 33lb 8oz. Can't grumble at that. With my stag over and my wedding day imminent I fancied another crack for the tench. A day before my wedding? Why not! A good pal was up for the trip, so talk started about going to the venue and soon enough we were both driving down the motorway at 3:30am in search of tench. We arrived at the lake to find it fairly busy. My mate dropped in a swim and I decided to wait for an area which was becoming vacant within the hour. The gentlemen who had left had a few tench but the other two lads in the swim to the right had struggled. I remained optimistic and hopped in the swim after the gentlemen had left. I had a lead around and settled with an area, again fishing on top of the blanket weed. Usually I'd find a clear spot but the weed was really rich with food and as I did ok the previous week I was happy to fish on top of the weed again. I applied the same methods as last time but had a third rod with me this time, so I fished three rods spread out in the area. If it was slow I'd find a new spot to fish the third rod on a different area. As I had the whole day ahead of me I decided to put out a fair bit of bait over a big area over the three rods, which were fanned out over the spot. After all the chaos of setting up and getting the bait out I finally sat down to watch the water.
Already I had seen tench rolling in the area and some bubblers too. The liners began and my spot slicked up!
A good sign! The liners became more savage and before I had time to think about recasting the rods, the middle rod was away and I was into my first tench of the trip. The bloke to right of me was surprised, as was I, due to the lack of inactivity they'd experienced. I slowly guided the tench to the net and my mate came over and did the honours with me.
Another lovely 6lb+ dark tench.
It wasn't even 7am and I'd received my first bite! I was confident and hopeful that the day would pan out to be a productive one! I wasn't wrong.. my mate came walking over to my swim with a clonking great tench in his net! It was a fine specimen and I took some lovely shots for him to return the favour for his morning handy work. It started to slow up a little so I topped the swim up with a few more Spombs and re-cast all three rods back out to the area. By this time the sun had burnt through the mist and it was beginning to be a hot day, me being me picked the swim with no shade at all! Whilst having a day-dream my middle rod was off again. This time I was into what felt like a bloody big tench, for a short while I thought it could have been a carp whilst flat rodding me and peeling line from the spool. Luckily I gained line as quickly as I had lost it and I was soon directing the big fish toward me. The fish rolled on the surface - A BIG TENCH! My heart at this point was racing and I played the big tinca as if my life depended on it. Slowly but surely she gave up the ghost and I guided her into the net. I was astonished when I saw the size of her. I immediately shouted at the top of my lungs for my mates assistance. As I gazed at the fish I could see his feeders skipping across the surface out of the corner of my eye and I waited in awe for my friend. We both laughed in amazement and soaked it all up! She spun the needle around to 10lb 3oz.
We reset the scales and weighed her again, just to make sure everything was accurate and sure enough, it was! I was over the moon!!
A double figure tench is a fish I'd dreamed about catching for many years and I was over the moon.
Although I have to admit I was a little wounded that I hadn't caught my first double from my syndicate, but that's the way things go and everything happens for a reason. Overwhelmed by it all we had some lunch and chilled out a bit before getting back to the fishing. By this time it was lunch and I'd really caught the sun. I topped the swim up with a healthy amount of bait, changed my worm hookbaits, filled the feeders and re-cast all three rods.
I couldn't have cared less if I didn't have any more bites, but the tench had other ideas. My right-hand rod tore off this time, and to add absolute chaos and carnage to the mix both my first and middle rod also went off while I was playing the first tench. Sadly the other two were lost, but another tench was In the net spinning the needle to 7lb+.
I went on to catch another two tench weighing 8lb 10oz,
and 8lb 13oz
as well as losing two more. We had to call it a day due to running out of bait! The more bait I put out the more responsive the tench became. I ended up using three bags of groundbait, three large jars of hemp, six pints of maggots and half a kilo of worms, plus a few tubs of lobworms. What a trip! To have caught my target the day before my wedding was the best early wedding present ever! I had a small break from fishing after getting married but of course tench angling still stayed in the back of my mind. After having some lovely time off with my family it was back to reality which meant back to work too. It was the start of June now, so my tench fishing was nearly over but I wanted to make sure I squeezed in a couple more sessions before I move onto targeting the next species of my desire. I always try and book off the traditional season opening of the 16th of June and this year wasn't going to be any different, so with two days off work looming I planned my next tench trip. I was due to guest an auction winner over on my syndicate but with new members starting and the lake rumoured to be busy we moved our session to next spring, this opened up new plans so I decided to drop back on the venue I had the double from. Work dragged like usual but I was soon driving down the motorway with a big grin on my face, eager to arrive at the venue. I eventually arrived at 8pm I wanted to get every thing set up and get a lot of bait out onto the spots for first light so I didnt have to disturb the swim too much at bite time. This time around I didn't want to make the same mistake as last time so I knew I had to take plenty of bait so as not to run out again.
There were plenty of tench rolling all over the place, so I was confident. I applied a few Spombs of my usual mix and opted to fish just until dark as I didn't want to over do it this evening as I was just fishing for a bite.
All three rods were out on the same methods as before, feeders fished Helicopter-style with the use of leadcore leaders and the rigs 12ins up the leader to aid fishing in the weed. I used short Flouro hooklinks on each, all with chopped worm on the Hair. I had a small tench that evening before reeling in for the night. It was a restless evening, as it was very hot and the mosquitoes were on form! I swear some of them were carrying baseball bats, they were persistent little buggers! My alarm was set for 3.30am but there was no need as I didn't really sleep. The birds dawn chorus began as did my own chorus of the Spomb slapping the lakes surface before skipping in. I put out about Ten spombs out to start the day with. I then cast two rods a rod length apart on the same spot and I fished my third rod a little closer in to my right. With the rods and bait out I began to feel tired, so I laid back and watched the sunrise and the tench begin to roll.
The liners soon started and fish started to roll over my longer spot. The liners didn't devolop into anything so I stuck with my plan of re-casting the feeders every half hour. I know some anglers like to re-cast more regularly, but I choose not to and it doesn't do me any harm. The morning slowly drifted by without any action, other than the odd liner. I knew a bite was just around the corner, it was just a matter of when. I was standing looking out over the lake when I heard the spool on of my reel go into meltdown. I'd forgotten to turn my alarm back on after re-casting. I picked up the rod and from the off it felt like a good fish and definitely wasn't best pleased when I eventually netted her!
She was an absolute cracker, spinning the dial to well over 8lb+ I was over the moon! With no one about I used my self-take kit, which I'd got the hang of now so I was confident the shots would come out ok, and surely enough they did.
A fresh lobworm was attached and rod re-cast, I also applied five more Spombs to the area. Something I like to do after I've had a bite. Again it didn't take long and my first rod was away, again from the longer spot in the weed. Another lovely tench which had taken a liking to my lobs! This tench was a lot smaller but still I'm happy to catch, whatever the size.
I re-cast both the long rods back to the baited area and again topped up with a few more Spombs. By now it was about 10am and the temperature had started to rise. My margin rod hadn't done anything all morning, but I opted to keep re-casting to keep the area topped up. The fishing slowed right down, I didn't receive any liners and there were no other signs of activity around the lake. I kept the faith, knowing that the tench could switch on at any given moment, and sure enough they did. My middle rod melted off and again I was into a hard fighting tench. Slowly but surely I guided the tench into the net, I didn't even have time to look at my prize as my other rod also tore off! Again, a hard fighting tench was the culprit and eventually found itself in the back of my net with the other, a lovely brace too!
Both fish spun the needle to 7lb+ making me a very happy angler and once again plenty of practice on my self-take kit helped me get some cracking photos of the brace before slipping them both back.
Again fresh lobworm segments were threaded onto the rigs and both rods deployed to the area, this time I decided to fan them out a bit more and add my third rod to the baited area too, as the short rod had remained motionless all day. I topped the area up with a little more than usual being as I had three rods on the spot now. By this time the wind had picked up and cooled the air a bit, raising my confidence even more. But again the tench had shut up shop. I waited patiently for their next feed up and re-cast every half hour like normal. I had the chance to fish until dark, but I was happy with my session so decided to pack down at 7pm to get home at a reasonable time. During the pack down I landed another two tench, making the decision to leave even harder, especially as one of the tench weighed bang on 8lb!
But I'm not greedy. Maybe it's a downfall to my angling, as many sessions before this I've been happy enough to leave when the action is good even though I've got the opportunity to stay longer. Something a lad with limited time should think about? Definite food for thought. Maybe next time? More than happy enough with the days results I slowly packed down and headed home. The temps soared over the next week, pushing the tench to spawn again. With the rivers now open and other species calling me, that potentially could have been my final session of the year for tench, who knows? I'm super happy with the ones I've been lucky enough to catch this spring and start of summer though.
Until next time,