TENCH Tinea tinea

Waters: Reservoirs, lakes, ponds, gravel pits, canals, sluggish rivers.

Baits: Maggots, worms, bread, sweetcorn.

Techniques: Float fishing, laying-on.

Float-leger, feeder-leger.

The tench is a thickset fish with rounded, spoon-shaped fins. Its colour varies from water to water. In most stillwaters. And particularly muddy lakes, tench are dark green: in clear gravel pits and lakes they are a bright greenish yellow. The body is protected by small, deeply-set scales and a thick layer of mucus. The mouth has two small barbels at the corners. It is a powerful fish, and has maintained its popularity with anglers because of its hard-fighting qualities as well as its handsome appearance.

Tench prefer weedy waters. Especially those with dense patches of lilypads. Hook a large tench near one of these and the fish will dash straight for the security of the thick stems and leaves of the lilies, from which it will be difficult, sometimes impossible, to dislodge.

Most well-estabfished lakes have a thick growth of weed in the shallows. Which supports an abundance of natural food. On these waters, weed clearance and raking can help towards consistently good results. If carried out a few hours before fishing, tench will quickly return to the treated swim, and their presence will be indicated by groups of small bubbles. Released as the fish probe into the disturbed mud for edible items. To hold the tench in such a swim, throw in small quantities of groundbait laced with hookbait samples. This will help to sustain the tench in a feeding mood – but lake care not to overfeed them.

Gravel pits consistently produce much larger tench than the more traditional waters. Fishof5-6lb (2.3-2.7kg) are now regularly taken, whereas a 4 lb (1.8kg) fish would have caused some excitement 30 or 40 years ago. The stocking of tench into gravel pits has been carefully controlled over the past 25 years, reducing competition for natural food so that the naturally large stock fish put on weight very quickly.

This is fine, but with fewer fish, more knowledge of the water is required before real success in catching the big tench can be achieved. Polarised glasses are helpful when studying such a water. Find the deep and shallow areas, and the channels running between or running alongside shallow banks. Try to compile a map showing the contours of the lake, or the areas to be fished. Indicate places of heavy weed growth. And areas of darker, deeper water. The map should suggest two or three likely places that can be reached easily.

The best lime to fish for lake tench is during the dawn and dusk periods, bin gravel pil leneh seldom limit their feeding to these times-even the middle of a hot day will find a tench ready to accept a bait.

Where long and accurate casting is called for to reach the swim, legering techniques-with or without a swimfeeder-are essential. However, provided there is a reasonable depth of water within range, laying-on with float tackle is by far the most productive style for offering the larger baits such as bread, lobworms and swectcorn. The float is moved up the line so that the bulk shot, and the bait. Lies on the lake bed. Reeling in a little will lighten the line between the shot and the float, enabling bites to be detected easily.

The lighter maggots and particle baits should be suspended from the float just on or off the bottom, using slightly liner hook-lengths.

Tench are notorious for producing strange movements of the float. Large-baits fished on the bottom being ‘worried’ by tench produce all kinds of movements ranging from small dips to runs of a yard or so. The fish may even lift the bait so that the float lies flat on the surface. But the patient angler waits until a positive bite occurs.

A firm strike must be made, and the instant the tench feels the hook it will make stubbornly for the security of the weeds, trying to bore deep into the roots. If it gets there you may be in trouble, and it must be slopped so that it can be played in clear water, where you have a chance. Prom pi. Skilful action should result in your landing a grand, sporting fish.