WINKLE OUT A BONUS TENCH
How to tame Fen tincas on the pole
DRAIN systems, canals and sluggish rivers – there’s one big fish which thrives in these venues and can often be relied upon to cap a day’s sport or boost a match weight significantly.
It’s the tench, and with specimens running to several pounds in these towing venues they are well worth catching.
Living in the Fens, MAP’s Rob Lincoln is in an ideal location to target the species as the Twenty Foot and Forty Foot Drains and the Old River Nene around him are full of them.
“These waterways are full of natural food, and the tench love to sit in them,” he said. “The only problem is, they tend to get weedy at this time of year, so you need to consider a few things. First, where you fish – you must find a clear spot where you can feed and present your bait. Spend time carefully plumbing up on the pole with a heavy plummet to try and locate a weed-free area or channel. You could even rake the swim the night before, or when you first get to the bank, if need be.
“Second, you can’t afford to compromise on gear. Tench are very fit, powerful, dogged fighters and can be in the weed in a matter of seconds. You’ll need a strong pole, a fairly heavy hollow 14-16 rated elastic and good strength lines and hooks.
“It’s not pretty fishing but it’s needed to stand a chance of getting the fish in,” he added.
On a standard swim that is fairly clear he’ll go for a 0.16mm (5lb) MAP Optex line together with a 0.15mm (4lb) hooklength. However, this can quite easily be stepped up to 0.20mm or 0.18mm mainlines, together with 0.18mm or 0.16mm hooklengths respectively, in weed situations.
Hooks are on the big side for tench, typically a size 12 or 14 Kamasan B611, or a B560 if the swim is really snaggy.
If he has small-fish swims on the go, Rob likes to fish a tench swim at an angle down the peg away from them, usually in the direction of the tow or flow. On a drain this is usually smack in the middle, down the central channel, but on canals and rivers the fish
will often sit near any reed beds or patches of weed, just down the shelf in the margins of either side.
“Use a thick float bristle and leave half of it showing. You’ll get the odd knock and bob when the tench arrive but don’t strike until you get a positive bite.
“Lots of bites will see the entire bristle lift to the body as the fish picks up the bait and the dropper shot. At other times it will just slide straight under at some pace. Wait a second and then strike hard and upwards,” advised Rob.
“So you’ve hooked your tench, but that’s only half the battle. Now you must get it in past any weeds. Keep the pole high if the weeds are on the bottom to persuade it up and keep the pressure on.
“Don’t rush things, and when you get a decent tench near the net, be alert to a few last-minute bids for freedom in the snags in the margins. Stand up if you have to,” he warned.
Natural-type venues demand natural baits and for Rob there’s nothing finer than a worm and caster approach. One or two full worms on the hook normally sit there long enough for a big fish to find them, and you might get a perch or a bream too.
Unless the venue is shallow and still, all feeding is done with a bait dropper. This goes straight to the bottom, only releasing the bait when it hits the deck, making for 100 per cent accuracy.
“Be alert to a few last-minute bids for freedom in the snags”