I have been fishing some local gravel pits that hold some very large tench for three years now and although I caught a few fish I am yet to catch that elusive double figure monster. Most of the tench I caught were males around 6lb and although they were lovely fish for the amount of time and effort I put in I wasn’t very happy with the end result. I was adamant that this year was to be different and I made it my ultimate target to at least obtain a PB tench over 8lb 2oz. I looked at my set up, bait, tackle, rigs and approach to my tench fishing and made the changes I thought would bring me some success.
The first change was my bait which I darkened down with some compost and added molasses for extra attraction. I convinced myself that on pressured waters tench are cautious when feeding over hi visibility ground baits and so changed my baiting approach accordingly. Next was my rigs and main line which I scaled down to make a more balanced set up which allowed me greater casting distances and superior presentation. 35g cage feeders were changed to 20g feeders with 8lb supplex hook links and a size 14 super specialist hooks. I also looked at my approach and spent more time scanning the water from early morning (3am onwards) finding the tench rolling and moving onto the showing fish.
I had a couple of sessions in early May on the main lake that holds the larger fish but it seemed that they hadn’t woken up properly from their winter slumber and so come mid May I moved onto another lake on the complex that holds a few more tench but on average slightly lower weights although it still does contain a few special fish. Little did I know that I would have one of the best 24 hours fishing I think I’ve ever had. I had the marker float out after arriving at the lake early afternoon but couldn’t find any features and so decided to sit and watch the water when pretty much straight away a fish rolled giving away their location. I cast two rods to the spot and balled in some g￼round bait. I then marked my line with some pole elastic and sat down with a beer in the sun.
It didn’t take long before my rod was away and I bent into a very decent fish. The slow plodding confirmed that it wasn’t a small male and that I had hooked a “proper one”. After a couple of minutes I managed to scoop up my prize and was delighted when she went 8lb 14oz on the scales which was a new PB and my very first fish of the season. Little did I know the action would continue throughout the evening and I managed another eight or so fish three of which went over 8lb including an 8lb 2oz, 8lb 4oz and 8lb 7oz. This was more fish then I had managed all last season and all were caught within one evening. My set up and changes had made a big difference and my hook holds were excellent. During the night It was quite apart from an eel which I couldn’t net that was definitely over 4lb and a fish that I would loved to have caught but it managed to bite through my 8lb fluorocarbon hook link. As I lifted the net out the water it literally dropped of the spreader block which was strange as It was a one piece spoon net. On closer inspection I discovered that the connection point had actually sheered leaving the screw point in my net handle and rendering my landing net useless for the following day. With all this going on I decided to reel in and set my alarm for 3am. At 3am I was out of bed and the kettle was on. I sorted out the rods and made a temporary repair to my net which was far from ideal but would have to do.
At around 4am I began to get liners and a bite was inevitable. The right hand rod suddenly screamed into action but this was clearly different from the previous bites that were sharp pulls and then a big drop back. I bent into the fish and a big bow wave rocked the water and line began screaming of the reel. I had hooked one of the elusive carp that reside in the lake but before this could register the line went slack and the fish gone. There are approximately forty carp in the lake and at 40 acres they are a rarity so I was gutted about the loss but to be fair I wasn’t targeting them and wasn’t really equipped to deal with such power. I was fishing with 1.5lb test curve rods and a size 14 hook!
During the day it was fairly quiet but I knew come late afternoon the fishing would pick up and I was right. My rods began twitching with line bites confirming the arrival of the tench. To cut this story short I managed another ten or so fish including another 8lb fish and multiple sevens with a few sixes thrown in for good measure. It was such an incredible session and was a perfect way to build some confidence in the changes I had made before targeting the main lake tench. I will now be fishing the main lake until the end of the tench season and will hopefully catch that double. I will keep you posted.