Lengthening and increasingly warm day and night time temperatures and the dawn chorus getting earlier each day can only mean one thing if you’re a specimen angler, it’s time for a spot of tench fishing!
I am very fortunate that I have the fantastic Linear Fisheries complex only 45 minutes away from home, and with it some of the best tench fishing in the country. Although predominantly a carp water, come April and May each year you will find the banks of most of the lakes on site dotted with anglers targeting tinca. Whether you are after a big hit of fish or targeting a specimen, Linear caters for all.
What with having a busy life at both work and home, fishing is a luxury I don’t often get to indulge in. With that in mind, I recently booked a few days of annual leave with the sole intention of going fishing, much to Mrs Baldwin’s ‘interest’.
Arriving at the fishery on May Day Bank Holiday possibly wasn’t the wisest move, and 3 hours of walking and looking commenced before a suitable swim was found. It was soon apparent that the swim I had chosen was thick with weed, from the near margin right the way across to the far bank, finding a clear spot big enough to present 2 rods was proving difficult. I wasn’t far from giving up (not taking a weed rake was definitely a rookie mistake) when I cast a little further right and got the unmistakable tap tap tap of gravel straight away! Game on.
A few more casts revealed a relatively clean spot no bigger than a bivvy and only a few rod lengths out, perfect. I set about baiting up the clear spot with a combination of groundbait, hemp and chopped worm, then left the swim to rest for an hour or so whilst I got everything set up.
Tackle wise, fishing for tench is pretty straightforward. If you barbel fish you have all the gear you will need. I use a 2lb barbel rod, 12lb Gardner Mirage main line, a block end feeder fished helicopter style with a short (3-4 inch) tied from 10lb Gardner Target Fluorocarbon with a size 10 GT Target Specimen hook. This may sound like a heavy set up to some more experienced tench anglers, however the venue is weedy and I don’t mind hooking carp so want to maximise the chance to land one should I be in that fortunate position.
With everything set I got both rods clipped up the short distance, loaded the feeders with maggots and cast out in anticipation of a good session. Within 5 minutes the right-hand rod was away and a feisty 4lb’er was soon in the net. It was a great start and I was hoping the first of many.
I quickly had another on the bank and it was looking likely that a red letter session was on the cards. Having said that I was mindful of introducing too much bait, so after my initial baiting up all I introduced for the fist 24 hours afterwards were maggots and chopped worm through a feeder. The reason was that I didn’t want the tench to get too preoccupied and not find the hookbait amongst a lot of bait. The little and often baiting plan paid off, as over the course of the next 48 hours I landed 9 tench, topped off with a new PB of 9lbs! Not to mention a couple of rogue pike (however strangely no carp at all).
I returned 2 weeks later for another go, as I had some bait left over that I had managed to look after well enough for it to be usable. Finishing work, I quickly loaded the car, made sure my wife’s dinner was done and sent her a text ‘gone fishing, dinner is ready, house is clean, back tomorrow’ – hopefully she would have calmed down by the time I got home.
Arriving at the fishery in glorious spring sunshine I was hoping to get back in the same swim, unfortunately it was taken, but with a plethora of other pegs available I was soon finding a spot and baiting it up. I didn’t have as long a trip as the previous session, so baited lightly in the hope I could keep fish visiting the area regularly and pick them off one at a time.
Despite what I would consider good conditions and fish rolling literally everywhere it was a relatively quiet session. Just after dark a rogue pike took my worm hookbait and led me a merry dance before being landed and released.
Just after 1:30AM one of the rods let out a single bleep but nothing materialised so I buried myself back in my sleeping back and thought nothing of it. Next thing I knew all hell had broken loose and I was stood, barely awake playing what I initially thought was a lively carp. After an intense but short battle I was looking down at a tench, that to the uneducated looked every ounce a double. It wasn’t quite that big, but at 9lb 6oz it was a new PB and a rather respectable one at that. Quickly getting some self takes done I released her to fight another day and popped the kettle on.
The rest of the night passed quietly, and I awoke to a stunning sunrise and carp launching themselves out of the water every few seconds. I always carry a carp rod with me when going to the Linear complex, so I soon had a solid bag flying out to the area where most of the carp were jumping and rolling.
Having felt it land on the lake-bed with a dull thud I was confident it would be presented well enough to get a bite, so I was happy to leave it. As the sun got high in the sky one of the tench rods was away and a few minutes later a cracking 6lb male tench was in the folds of the net.
I was hoping for a few more but alas it wasn’t to be. The carp rod did produce a nice fully scaled just under 22lb not long before I had to leave so all in all it was a rather successful impromptu session.