It’s not what you know but who you know!

Tench have always been my favourite stillwater fish, I think I caught my first one in about 1962. In those days tench were for grown up, proper anglers and us kids were happy with little perch and roach. So when I caught my first tench on a legered lobworm, it really was a turning point in my angling life and a milestone had been passed but my real ambition was to catch one on a float. Later that season I achieved that ambition too and catching them with float tackle has remained my favourite method.

Most of my stillwater fishing has been done in gravel pits and I soon learned that the tench in those young and sometimes vast expanses of water behaved differently from the estate lake fish that I read about in my youth. They would feed all day if you were lucky, they tended to be very mobile and difficult to hold in the swim but they often fed in the margins and could easily be caught with float tackle.

Since then I have caught many tench that way (I won’t use the old clich√© of an orange tipped quill sitting amongst a patch of bubbles next to a lilly pad, oops! I just did!) but it has become more difficult with the changes to our stillwaters due to the introduction of carp. Over the years more and more waters were stocked with them to the detriment of the tench fishing, tench can’t compete with the larger carp. Tench fishing went into a decline so that it has become more difficult to find a lake where it is possible to float fish for tench without being smashed by unwanted carp.

I was discussing this with a young coach I met recently and he told me about a local lake he had heard of that still held a good head of tench and offered to fish it with me on my first visit. Will Barnard is a very capable angler with a vast knowledge of local waters and his description of the lake proved right. We met at about eight in the morning and both fished with feeder tactics in adjacent swims.

We both had one tench each but Will’s was slightly larger than mine.

Tench around four pounds

Will with his tench

He caught his fish very close in whilst mine came from a deep trench about three rod lengths out, so the next time I visited the lake I fished the margins with a centrepin and float tackle. The swims we had been fishing were both those horrible platforms extending out into the lake from between dense bankside vegetation. Still I suppose the platforms are preferable to removing the vegetation to make the fishing easier. This meant there was a good depth of water, about six feet within a rod length of the bank and I was able to fish under the rod tip from the bankside end of the platform so as not to scare the fish.

I chose to fish balls of paste under a pole float on a five pound hook length over a bed of ground bait, pellet and hemp. The day produced three tench, the last one weighing seven pound and seven ounces, the best tench I have had for a couple of years.

5lb 12 oz tench
Five pound twelve ounce tench

4lb 8oz male tench
Four pound eight ounce male tench

7lb 7oz tench
Seven pound seven ounce tench

All these fish fought like tigers and I thoroughly enjoyed the day but late in the afternoon I tried a piece of prawn, having fed a few chopped free samples during the day, in the hope of hooking an even bigger tench. My bait was taken by something that stripped thirty yards of line from my centrepin before turning back and kiting into the roots ten yards to my right. Not a tench but a carp I suspect but I will never know because it transfered my hook into the roots and I straightened it trying to pull it out…

I have been looking for such a fishery since I moved here and it turns up fifteen minutes drive from my home, well done Will!