I had been waiting for the weather to settle down before targeting tench this year as the weather seemed to be about a month behind. A nice warm weather front moving in over the south of the country at the end of May soon got me preparing the tench gear for my first over night session of the year. I had arranged to meet my good friend and fellow Gardner sponsored angler Tony King, at a southern gravel pit where he was doing a three day stint. Due to my family commitments I was only able to do the second night of his stay and planned to be off by lunchtime the next day. When I arrived at the lake on Friday afternoon, Tony had already landed six Tench up to a quality 8lb 12oz so things were looking good.
Gardner Target 10lb Speciskin coated braid with a size 14 Target Specimen hook.” alt=”My hook length consisted of a 3 inches of Gardner Target 10lb Speciskin coated braid with a size 14 Target Specimen hook.” width=”300″ height=”209″ class=”alignright size-full wp-image-11126″ />
I baited a weedy area about 25-30 yards out with fifteen apple sized balls of groundbait with my chosen mix of equal parts Sonubaits Exploding Feeder, Supercrush Marine Halibut and Krill. I then used a spadger that Tony had devised many years ago to lay out a carpet of particles which keeps the Tench grazing for hours. It is a form of spod but spreads particles over a wider area which is a far better way of baiting in our opinion for tench & bream. A shoal of fish do not spook as much as they will on a tightly baited spot. When I am targeting one or two bites then I will bait more tightly with a spod but when I want to target a number of fish then the spadger is my first choice.
My spadge mix consisted of 3 pints of dead red maggot, 2 pints of caster, 2 pints of groats soaked with Sonubaits CSL, 1 pint of mixed 2mm & 4mm S-Pellets and one tin of Sonubaits Hemp`N`Corn. This was spadged out to form an area approx 6m x 6m and would allow me to fish both of my rods on or around the feed and gives the fish a nice sized area to feed on without spooking when a fish is hooked.
My tactics consisted of 10lb Gardner GT80+ mainline with a helicopter bolt rig utilising a 50 gram flatbed groundbait feeder. These flat feeders help to sit on top of the dense weed. My hook length consisted of a 3 inches of Gardner Target 10lb green Speciskin coated braid with a size 14 Target Specimen hook. I threaded a small 1.5 inch Skinny Dipper Micromesh PVA stick of slightly dampened groundbait (not too damp or it will melt the PVA) down the hook length and gently pushed the hook point into the stick of groundbait. This prevents the hook point getting masked by the weed and it also aids the anti-tangle element of the rig. As the PVA melts it also leaves added attraction around the hookbait so it serves a double purpose.
I alternated various baits throughout the session but found that critically balanced artificial corn or double artificial caster soaked in liver extract or pineapple were by far the best on the session. These were all presented using the “T” rig style of presentation on the hair that Tony King designed, which is shown in the Gardner Target handbook.
I had my first fish of the session at 11pm on the first evening weighing 7lb 3oz, which was a nice start. No further Tench action came through the night but a few nuisance small eels had me reeling the rods in by midnight. I re-baited the rods at first light around 4:30am and put out some fresh spadge mix. I had my next run shortly after re-casting at 4:50am and caught consistently until 11:00am, before the bites dried up when the sun was high in the sky.
I finished the session by landing eight tench, the best weighing 8lb 1oz, including fish weighing 7lb 3oz, 7lb 4oz and 7lb 6oz to make it a very enjoyable first tench session of the year. I topped the swim up with a spadge of particles and ball of groundbait after each fish and the bites came soon after re-baiting proving that the fish loved the tactics. Incidentally every fish was perfectly hooked in the bottom lip with the ‘T’ rig and I also landed every run.
Tony unfortunately only caught one tench whilst I was there and said jokingly that I had nicked all his fish! He stayed for a further day and ended with fifteen tench in total over three days including four over 7lb and the 8lb 12oz fish. These tactics are deadly for Tench so give it a go is my advice.