This year my spring campaign for tench has been rather different than normal. Due to work commitments I started three weeks later than I would have liked. As reports of tench being caught were flooding in I was unable to hit the bank.
My first trip was guiding the winner of a charity auction with the express aim of beating Ben Kennedy’s personal best. A trip to Linear was arranged in scorching weather and after a fruitless start on Manor we moved to Smiths where I had seen a few tench in a swim that has been productive for me in the past. I’d agreed with Ben I would catch a tench and after that he could take any bites on my rods. The inevitable happened – 10 minutes after casting I had a tench of exactly 8lb and the following 24 hours produced just one missed bite. Luckily that wasn’t the end of Ben’s pursuit of a PB…
The next week was the Tenchfishers 60th anniversary fish-in at Horseshoe Lake. As part of the celebrations four Korum anglers were competing in a friendly match against four of the Tenchfishers. I was fishing with Mat Woods the Korum Brand Manager and he donated a fiver to the Angling Trust to get a second chance in the draw for swims. It was a shrewd investment as he drew number four and our first choice of swim; Boat Point was still available so we were off to a good start. The weather had taken a turn for the worse with a cold east wind and a succession of showers and we both felt the tench would move out of Summer Bay. By mid afternoon it was looking like a good decision as I had a couple of tench including an 8-7 whilst the anglers in Summer Bay were fishless. Day one ended with Team Korum leading 4-0 and I’d managed three fish on Korum rubber maggots whilst my worm baits produced nothing.
Above: One of a number of gorgeous dark Horsehoe tench.
Mat and I were up early and baiting our swims with Sonubaits hemp, 2mm Code Red and S pellets along with chopped dendrobaenas and maggots. I had switched both rods to rubber maggots but no bites were forthcoming, just more rain. After an hour I switched one rod to worm and had a bite on it soon after and that signalled a complete change from the previous day as it became clear the tench had a preference for worm and that continued through the day. By 10am all of my Team Korum colleagues had caught and I was lucky to keep catching steadily and ended the match at 5pm with 14 tench. The result was a landslide for Team Korum, the overall score being 17-1. The evening was spent at the hog roast and some anonymous superstar paid for the barrel of ale so it was free beer all-round!
Above: My rig was Korum Xpert Power Mono and an Xpert Specimen Hook. Unbeatable!
The following morning Mat and I had a relaxed pack-up and I invited Ben Kennedy to come and fish my swim. After sorting the line lay on his reel and getting the twist out of it I got his lines marked at the correct distance. By now the wind was strong and blowing across the swim making accurate casting but after a little practice Ben was hitting the mark and soon had a brace of five-pound tench in the net. I checked the weights of the fish I’d caught and assured him that one in three had been over the target of 7lb 3oz. Moments later he had another bite. Twice he thought it had come off as it swam quickly towards him into weedy patches. Luckily it was still on and as soon as it came over the net I knew it was “Mission accomplished”. The fish was in mint condition and at 8lb 9oz smashed his PB and proved to be the biggest tench of the weekend. Great stuff Ben – seeing the grin on his face was better than catching fish myself, especially after the preceding struggle at Linear.
Above: Ben got his new PB. Mission accomplished!
I was soon to experience the productive side of tenching on Linear when I returned the following weekend. I arrived on a Saturday and opted to fish the car park bay on Manor that I’d never fished before. Adam Firth was joining me the next day to do a feature for the Anglers Mail and after a blank night and seeing few signs of fish at dawn I decided to have a walk round and see if there were signs elsewhere. I saw a couple of tench roll along the road bank but was drawn to a swim a carp angler had vacated on the far bank, a swim known as The Muddy Swim. Fortunately since it was named a lot of gravel has been deposited making it angler-friendly like all of the Linear swims.
In red-hot conditions with no wind I was in no hurry to set up as I knew it would be hard going. I took time with a marker float to find the most promising are of the swim to fish and settled on a spot at about 45 yards where a clear area ended and the weed became quite thick at the back. This spot was lightly baited with maggots, a mix of 2mm Sonubaits Code Red and S pellets and chopped worms. A third rod was fished to a gravelly area much closer in and I opted to just fish a feeder to this spot and this proved a good decision when on only the second cast I had a tench of 9lb 9oz then a little later a 6lb 13oz male tench from the far swim. By mid-day the action for the day was over but with windier conditions forecast I was optimistic that the next morning would see a few tench banked.
Above: Quickstopped worms on Korum Xpert tackle just kept producing.
My optimism for once was justified as by 9am I had landed 9 tench and I ended the day with 16 including another two ‘nines’ and 3 carp, two of which were twenties. I had to pack up by 11am the next day but that wasn’t a problem as the tench fed from first light and I ended up with another 16 with two more ‘nines’! Once again Manor had proved to be amongst the best day ticket tench waters in the country.
Manor does have a rival in this respect though as shown the following week. Initially I set up on St Johns at Linear and spent well over an hour dragging weed. Unfortunately despite my efforts the swim didn’t appeal when I came to cast out – the area I had cleared was a bit too silty for my liking and it didn’t feel right so I had a walk around and decided on a move to Hardwick. After moving everything and setting up for a second time on another sweltering day I was exhausted but felt I’d done the right thing. A small bream in the night was not what I wanted but the alarm call from an 8lb 8oz tinca and another of 9lb 2oz shortly after was more like it! It will no doubt surprise some readers that by 8am I was on the move again despite catching these fish. The swim had gone very quiet for over an hour and the water in front of me was flat calm. The swim opposite had a nice ripple on it and was calling so once again I was reeling in and loading the barrow.
Above: My visits to Linear were productive once more with loads of fish, including some biggies!
Just after midday I had the first bite in the new swim from a fish of about 6lb. The next bite made all the effort worthwhile. When a very long tench came over the net I was pretty sure it was going to break double figures and the scales confirmed this, settling on 10lb 9oz. I went on to catch about a dozen more including another three over 9lb as Hardwick met the challenge from Manor as the best tench water at Linear head-on!
Above: I cannot fault it.
All the fish were caught on the new Korum Xpert rods with Korum end tackle. The Xpert hook line is perfect for this style of fishing as it is both extremely supple and durable. My hook of choice is the Korum Specimen in size 10 and 12. Using this combination I didn’t lose one fish to a hook pull for the second season running. Try them for tench or barbel – you won’t be disappointed!
Mat Woods has a great birthday session with Code Red
Adam Firth bags a new PB Barbel from the River Trent using Code Red Dumbells.
See more catch shots in our Gallery Pages