With persistent cold nights being the norm this spring I purposely left my tench fishing until the weather showed some sign of improvement and even then, I turned up a week too early and endured a bitterly cold blank for two days. I had a new water lined up this year, a large mature gravel pit an hour and a half from home with the potential to deliver the holy grail of tench, fish in excess of 10lbs. The chances of a double closer to home are wafer thin and with my last tench campaign being spent in Kent, virtually continental Europe when driving from Leicestershire, this place had great appeal.
With the temperature finally improving the following week I lined up another two-day trip. The alarm was set for silly o'clock with the intention of arriving at dawn to try and locate some rolling tinca's. The temperature might have been up but the rain was certainly coming down and the forecast suggested that it wasn't going to change much all day, as it turned out it didn't stop for one minute!
As always the most important thing is location and I would rather dedicate some time to walking and looking for fish than fish blind. I wandered between areas that offered good views across the pit for a good hour before one particular area stood out, I had only seen two fish roll but that was two more than anywhere else and that was good enough, I had my starting point.
Now tench have wide ranging tastes but if I had to choose one bait to save the day then it would be maggot's and that was what I intended to base my approach on. My set up is pretty simple, a Korum Adjustable Heli Rig with the swivel changed for a quick-change version to allow quick hooklink changes. Below that sits a Korum Combi Feeder, medium sized in 60gram more often than not. I never stick a real maggot on this rig nowadays, too many bumped fish due to the hook point becoming obscured when a grub doubles up over it, swayed me to try rubber maggots several years ago and I've never looked back, if you haven't used them you should. Two rubber grub’s hair rigged to a size 14 Korum Specimen hook is perfect, the buoyancy of the maggots ensures that the rig shoots into the fishes’ mouth easily, keeping the hooklink to 4 inches or so works for me.
So, there is the plan, but did I mention that rain? You really want to keep recasting those feeders on a regular basis, without a doubt tench can react to that splash as a dinner gong and I've had the line pulled from my fingers while clipping the bobbin on plenty of times. Incessant rain makes that very hard work. I knew full well that I should have upped my game but it was miserable to be honest. Six hours in, one of the rods finally burst in to life and my first tench was landed, only about 5lbs but I took it as a positive sign and stepped up my efforts fully expecting further action. An hour before dark and I only had that one fish to show for my efforts, I was considering a change of swim for the next day but didn't have anywhere in particular in mind. As I sat pondering I had a screaming run, well I thought I did, what I actually had was two screaming runs in perfect synchronisation! I've had two fish on at once plenty of times but these were timed to the split second. After a bit of juggling and jiggling I ended up with a tench resting in each of my nets, I tend to carry a large carp net along with my usual spoon version when tenching just in case a carp comes along. In the space of five minutes what had been a day of endurance was suddenly turned around completely, the smaller of the two weighing 7lb 12oz's and the other a very respectable 8lb 14oz's making a cracking brace.
Well of course I wasn't about to abandon the swim after that, so as the light crept across the lake the next morning making way for a glorious day of sunshine, thanks goodness, I was already topping up the swim with a mix of maggots, pellet and groundbait using a Spomb. With conditions being much more conducive to frequent casting I could keep working the swim throughout the day and in my experience that can be the difference between success and failure with tench. By the time I called it a day, I had added another seven fish to my tally including two more approaching 8lbs and had topped up the tan to boot, what a difference a day makes!