Tench - (Tinca tinca)
Tench are pretty easy to identify with their striking olive green colour, large red eyes, two small barbules and large powerful caudal fin. They also have a thick layer of mucus which covers the entire fish and this mucus helps keep disease and parasites at bay - in years gone by this mucus was thought to have healing properties, hence the nickname the doctor fish.
Tench are one of the easiest coarse fish to distinguish between the sexes, as the males have much larger spoon shaped pelvic fins with two raised bumps on either side, where as the females have much smaller triangular pelvic fins.
Golden tench are exactly the same as regular tench, but have been selectively bred in captivity by ornamental fish keepers to produce a strain of tench which is golden, orange or pale yellow in colour, these fish are now increasingly being stocked in commercial venues up and down the country.
Tench spawn in shallow areas of dense marginal vegetation when water temperatures reach 18-20 degrees, this means tench tend to spawn later than most coarse fish, usually in June & July if the weather is warm enough for a prolonged period.
Both male and female tench reach sexual maturity after 2-3 years, and this is when the male fish develops larger spoon like pelvic fins. The males growth rate slows quite markedly at this point and during their lifetime will rarely grow to exceed 6lbs in size, whilst the females continue to grow much larger as they age.
When tench come to spawn, the females are closely followed by a number of male suitors who fertilise the eggs when the female releases them. The eggs which are very sticky attach themselves to underwater vegetation and hatch within 5-7 days and then begin to feed on zooplankton.
Natural Diet & Common Baits
As natural bottom feeders tench tend to eat most of what it can rummage around for on the bottom, its natural diet consists of bloodworm, shrimp, swan mussels & worms.
Tench are fond of many baits such as corn, casters, worms, pellets & red maggots, but they also have a particular fondness for sweet flavoured baits such as fruity boilies.
Tench spend most of their time in areas of dense weed searching for their natural food. Finding these areas can be made easier by looking for tiny bubbles rising to the surface in quick succession, these bubbles are created when the fish crushes its food and the bubbles rise up through their gill rakers - this is a clear sign of tench feeding hard on the bottom.
Early dawn & dusk are the best times to catch tench and they can often be seen in marginal areas rolling on the surface prior to feeding, so areas where fish are topping & the water is bubbling is a great place to start.
Tench are mainly a fair weather fish and will enter a hibernation like state in autumn after the first frost, so catching tench through the winter months is a difficult prospect.
Tackle & Tips
- Tench are a powerful fish and can certainly put up a scrap, so a relatively strong float or light carp rod will be required. If you intend to fish with a pole make sure you have strong enough elastic to cushion the deep runs tench make.
- fishing line of around 6-8 pounds with a lighter hook length will be adequate for most tench fishing, but if you targeting larger specimens you may need to up the strength of line & hook length. Hooks between the sizes of 12-16 should be sufficient when using small to medium sized baits.
- Waggler fishing close in using the lift method is probably the most quintessential method that could be employed when targeting tench, not only is it a successful method, it is also one of the most exciting forms of float fishing.
- If distance is required to reach tench, a swim feeder filled with red maggots is hard to beat, the constant flow of maggots around the hook bait will certainly get tench feeding confidently.
- Tench do not appear to be as nocturnal as other coarse fish, so fishing for them at the moment of day break is a great way of increasing your chances of catching.
- It's worth adding liquid molasses to any groundbait mix, as tench are usually drawn to sweet flavours.
- Always handle tench with wet hands, the mucus on the fish is there to protect it and handling them with dry hands or cloths can remove this important mucus.