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13 June, 2024 | Uncategorised | Match & Coarse | Angler Blogs | Articles

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Aidan Mansfield’s Tench Fishing Bait Tips

We recently joined Aidan Mansfield at Lychgate Fisheries to target one of the nation’s favourite species – the tench! Whilst they’re primarily found in natural lakes and canals, tench are also stocked into commercial fisheries and as a result, are now familiar with fishmeal baits such as pellets and groundbait. However, this doesn’t mean you should ignore natural baits when targeting this classic spring and summer species, as Aidan details below…

Aidan says…

When spring finally arrives I always set some time aside from my usual match fishing schedule to target tench at Lychgate Fisheries in Nuneaton, Leicestershire.

There are a few lakes onsite but it’s the Silver Pool that holds the best stock of tench in addition to lots of silverfish and skimmers if you fancy a break away from carp and F1s.

Silver Pool is a snake lake at heart with four central islands around 14m from the bank with lots of lily beds and overhanging trees which provide the perfect features to target tench from on the pole. There are few finer sights in angling than watching your pole float burying amongst a patch of bubbles next to those pads!

For my feature with the Dynamite cameras, I decided to fish Peg 5 which, when you face it, is absolutely perfect for catching tench.

To my left and right are lily beds at 5m and 14m-15m out and directly in front of me towards the island is a reed bed with a good depth of water at around 2.5ft.

My plan of attack was to just focus on fishing these three areas during the feature but they also gave me the opportunity to experiment with natural and fishmeal baits to determine what the tench would prefer more on the day.

I’ve discovered over the years that tench can be finnicky with their food so it pays to take a selection of baits with you when you’re targeting them, as I’ll explain below.

Bait Choice

 

As mentioned, the plan was to fish three lines as highlighted in the swim diagram below…

 

Line 1 – Worm, dead reds and Frenzied Snails over hemp and corn

This line is approximately 5m to my left and features a bed of lilies with around 3ft of depth. Here, I decided to feed natural baits only – mixing XL Sweetcorn into a tub with a tin of 4mm Frenzied Hemp & Snails to be used as feed and fishing either a kernal of corn, a 4mm snail, dead reds or whole dendras over the top.

 

I’m not looking to dump lots of bait on this line either – instead preferring to introduce hemp, corn and 4mm snails every so often with a small Flexipot.

When tench fishing, quite often you’re fishing for a bite at a time so it pays to have a line where you adopt a cautious feeding approach so you don’t give the tench too much bait to graze over. This potentially decreases the chance of them finding your hookbait quickly.

However, the other two lines will give me the opportunity to feed more positively, as I’ll explain below…

There’s no messing around when fishing next to lily pads which is why I opted to use a size 20-22 Slik elastic to a mainline of 0.20 and a hooklink of 0.16 with a size 14 hook. You really need to bully these tench away from the pads so durable and reliable gear needs to be used. My float of choice on this line is a Durawire 0.3g with a bulk of shot 12-inches from the hook with a single dropper below.

 

Line 2 – 4mm and 6mm expander pellets over micros

Although the Silver Pool is primarily a natural water, anglers are feeding lots of fishmeal-based products such as pellets and groundbait which the tench have become accustomed to.

With this in mind, for my second line I opted to fish 4mm and 6mm Swim Stim Amino Original Pro-Expander pellets over 2mm pellets of the same flavour. I’d soaked these micro pellets in the matching liquid as well so that the flavours of what I was feeding and using on the hook all matched.

This line is tight over to a reed bed on the island and features around 2.5ft of water.

Similarly to the first line, I’m not looking to feed heavy here but will up the feed a little bit by using a medium-size Flexipot to introduce micros little and often. I simply press the micros into the pot with my thumb and tap them out into the swim.

Because there’s a lot of open water in front of this reed bed, I’ve got a good chance of catching some skimmers over there so my rigs don’t need to be as heavy.

For this reason, my elastic choice was a 10-12 red Slik elastic to an 0.14 mainline and 0.12 hooklink. Light enough to temp the skimmers and not bump them off but robust enough to deal with a tench when I hook one.

Line 3 – Dendras over Swim Stim Groundbait

My final line is located approximately 14m-15m to my right and again leads directly to a lily bed. This was to be my positive line where I would dump big pots of Swim Stim Amino Original and Black groundbait mixed 50/50.

I overwetted this mix so that it would sink quickly and not disperse on the bottom when the tench waft over it. This way, I know that when I drop my hookbait over the top it will be fishing amongst a pile of groundbait.

Hookbait choice was BIG baits – so whole dendras, large bunches of dead maggots, double corn or double 4mm snail to see if I could tempt a proper specimen. Tench to 12lb reside in Silver Pool so it’s always worth putting out some bigger baits.

My rig and elastic choice is exactly the same as Line 1’s – nice and robust to help draw those big fish away from the lily pads.

So there you have it – my three-pronged bait approach for tench! Time to put it to the test…

 

 

The Session

I treated our feature session as a typical five-hour match where you’d be looking to catch 25lb-35lb to win on the Silver Pool. With the average stamp of tench sitting at around the 5lb barrier, my target was 4-6 tench to be in with the chance of winning.

There’s also the chance of a few bonus skimmers and F1s thrown in to help boost the weight.

To kick things off, I introduce a big pot of the Swim Stim Amino Original and Black groundbait mix to my right hand swim (line 3) and would leave this for around an hour before trying over it. This mix is super fine and I know it wont all be eaten in that time.

Next, I loaded the small Flexipot with hemp, corn and 4mm snails before shipping it out and tapping it into the area next to my left-hand lily pads (line 1). I then shipped back in, reloaded the pot with bait and nicked on a juicy whole dendra before shipping it back out to the spot – the first drop-in of the session!

 

It was evident from the off that there were tench in the swim as the pads were knocking and a few tell-tale bubbles were fizzing up from the lake bed but I did not hook my first tench for a good half-hour or so! It’s crazy how tench will give themselves away in your swim but completely ignore your hookbait!

The take was classic of a tench and the float completely submerged out of site followed by heavy headshakes as the elastic darted out of my pole and headed towards the lily pads.

I was glad I decided to fish a heavy elastic as anything less would surely have only resulted in a lost fish. Thankfully I was able to steer this tench away and into the waiting landing net.

At around 4lb in size it was a great start!

Time to refeed this line and rest it whilst I checked out line 2 over to the far bank reeds…

I added a handful of the 2mm dampened Swim Stim Amino Original to the Flexipot and nicked a 6mm Pro-Expander to the hook and shipped out to the spot.

Similarly to the first line, it was evident that fish were present over to the reedbed on the island and a tench even swirled on the surface – completely knocking the reeds as it headed back down!

The float then sailed away but I struck and was met with zero resistance with a baitless hook. As there is a head of rudd in this pool, I shipped back and attached a 4mm snail to the hook before shipping back out and refeeding with 2mm pellets.

Almost straight away the float buried and the softer elastic shot out from the pole.

Get in – another tench…or so I thought.

After a solid scrap, an F1 that did its best tench impression eventually surfaced and was scooped up. Not the target species but a bonus fish if I was indeed fishing a match!

Another couple of ships over to the far bank over the next half hour or so produced no more bites so it was time to re-feed and rest it before having a go over at line 3 to the right-hand lily bed. This just shows why it’s important to give yourself a number of options on the day to increase you chances of catching.

Out went a whole dendra and it can’t have been on the bottom for more than a minute when the float completely buried and I was in again!

By the way the elastic was being pulled jaggedly from the pole tip, I knew straight away this was another tench and after a few minutes it was in the net.

A cracking male of around 5lb-6lb, that’ll do!

This turned out be my routine for the remainder of the session – rotating all three lines to draw a response.

In that time I managed three more tench, a couple of skimmers and two more F1s, not to mention losing two other big fish (most likely tench) to hook pulls. Tench fishing can be a slow game but I resisted the temptation to switch to targeting skimmers knowing that three skimmers would amount to 1 tench!

Interestingly, I caught two tench fishing worm over groundbait to line 3 and the third tench on a 6mm expander fishing tight over to line 2.

Whilst I have done very well fishing over hemp and corn here in the past, during the feature session it was clear they wanted that rich, fishmeal-smelling bait and had I not included these two lines of attack, I would have had a fraction of my total weight which was a good 25lb-30lb.

All in-all it was really enjoyable day and just goes to show, if you’re fishing silverfish only matches on a lake that has a head of tench, it’s well worth singling these fish out to add vital pounds and ounces to your net!

-Aidan

 

 

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