The tench, sometimes called the doctor fish, can be seen as, pound for pound, one of the hardest fighting coarse fish in the UK. Stocky, with a muscular body and big rounded fins, these fish are bottom feeders capable of attaining weights of up to about 15 pounds and growing to be as much as two feet long. The best place to fish for tench is in a lake, particularly around lily beds and margin weed reeds or other cover. The best time to catch these fish is at dawn or dusk during the summer months from May to September.
To locate tench and determine where to drop your feeder or ledger, watch for tiny pinprick bubbles that indicate the fish are busy feeding below. Often, a meandering trail of telltale bubbles can be seen between lily pads and weeds, marking the fish’s path and making the decision as to where to set your bait an easy one.
These fish usually eat snails, mussels, and invertebrates, and they are not terribly picky when it comes to baits. Bread, sweetcorn, maggots, worms, casters, and boilies all work nicely. You can use any type of feeder with a good groundbait mix to attract the tench – just be sure to pack your feeder well and make sure you do not drag it at all after casting.
If you like, you can use the old week raking method to clear a spot before dropping your bait – tench are curious and like nothing better than the prospect of a free meal. A closed swim feeder packed with maggots often gets good results. Whatever feeder you use, you’ll be attaching it right to your ledgering rig.
When Ledgering for tench, use a fishing rod with medium action and about a 1.5 pound test curve so you can enjoy the fight while maintaining a modicum of control. Most fishing reels will suffice; use 6 pound test fishing line and hooks between size 8 and 10 if possible. You can catch tench with hooks of nearly any size, but using an 8 or a 10 will allow you to swap from float fishing to ledgering and back with ease. Use about a 4 inch hook link attached to your feeder and either bait it or leave it free; either way, it will work as tench root around for their food. You will not need any extra weight since the feeder will sink itself effectively.
Prebait if you like, to get the tench accustomed to the idea of feeding in the area you’ve selected, and once they start feeding, you will find yourself landing tench with ease.