Tench are greenish olive to brown in body colour with orange-red eyes. They are a thickset fish with light black fins. They have very small scales, which are deeply imbedded in their thick skin, making it as slippery as an Eel. There tail fin is quite large with only a slightly concave shape. Males are generally smaller than females, and they can be recognised by their larger curved lower fins that are noticeably more muscular than the female. They have a pair of minute barbles attached to mouth that can search for their natural food such as snails, pee clams, chironomids, and my bait ha ha. Tench are in many of our lakes through Ireland and often caught while fishing for other species like bream and hybrids. They are usually located in marginal areas of lakes, they are often lured out of these areas to deeper water when you bait up heavy for bream. You can find Tench in rivers and canals especially near dense weed beds and under lily pads. There natural predators are Trout, Perch and pike. Breeding takes place in shallow water usually among aquatic plants where they deposited the sticky green eggs; Spawning usually occurs in summer and as many as 300,000 eggs may be produced. Growth is rapid, and fish may reach a weight of 0.11 kg (0.25 lb) within the first year. The best time to fish for Tench is from the middle of April to June and then again in September. Some of the best Tench waters in Ireland are all the canals – the Royal, the Grand and the canal sections of the River Barrow. The stretches of the Shannon at Lanesborough and Shannon bridge, limestone loughs in Co. Clare, Ballyhoe and Rahan’s Lakes at Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan and much of the River Erne catchment particularly lakes in Cavan and near Ballinamore in Co. Leitrim. The Tench are protected by Coarse Fish bye-law No. 806, 2006: no killing of coarse fish above 25cm. The Irish record Tench is held by nick parry at Ballyeighter Lake, Co. Clare in 1995 that weighed 8lb 2¼oz (3.697kg) and the specimen weight is 6lb (2.7kg). The English record stands at a massive size of 15lb 3oz 6dr
Tench fishing in the past
I caught my first Tench in 1988 when I was fishing for carp at Ballyshoneen reservoir in cork it was a fish of only 1lb. Back then, only the elite had the knowledge and the transport to fish for larger Tench in co Clare and right through the midlands. It was only when I bought my car in 2007 I could go hunting for them myself. With every trip to Co Clare resulting with Tench just under 6 lb, I still look forward to every spring to go after them. It was in 2009 that I landed my first specimen Tench, what a feeling it was. Still to this day, I like traveling up the country to rake out a swim for Tench; it is a lot of work but still worth it, when you see the pin size bubbles appear over the baited area and then your alarm screams off or your float slides under the water. The first 7LB Tench that I saw was when I was fishing with Ross Macklin on Ballyhoe Lake, and as the fish came towards the net we could see that it was long and full of spawn. Since then I have seen a few Tench over 7lb landed but never had the pleasure in catching one myself. Ballyhoe Lake is a club water know and is monitored on a regular basis throughout the day, which leaves you with a feeling safe and security for yourself, vehicle and belongings.
Ross Macklin with a 7lb 2oz and 7lb 6oz Ballyhoe Tench that feed over a bed of maggots and sweetcorn
This year I made a few hasty decisions when it came to Tench, and my first session was a disaster. Even after heavy rain was forecast by XC Weather, I still decided to go. Never again am I going in the rain for Tench. With that, I was advised by a local guide to go to a lake that I knew nothing about. All I had heard and believed was that it did not flood in heavy rain and that there was large Tench in it, which was good enough for me. I soon found out around 4am when I was woke up by Bill shouting “get up, your reels are underwater and your alarms are trying to learn how to swim!”. With a sudden burst out of my bivvy, I found myself in three inches of water. Only six hours before I was fifteen feet from the water’s edge. With my alarms saved and the gear packed up it was time to call it a day and head home.
Bills brolly at 4am after the lake rose over a foot that flooded fifteen feet of the bank that we were fishing
I waited for good weather for my next session and when it arrived I decided to do a day on a privet lake in Borris-in-Ossory, Co. Laois called Ballaghmore house, it is a three-acre lake with a healthy stock of Tench between 3lb and 5lb with the odd few breaking the specimen 6lb weight. As we arrived at our swims, we could see Tench bubbling and some lilies moving as they passed through them. With the ground bait mixed and balled up, it was time to put it in to our chosen spots so the Tench could start homing in on it as we set up our rods. With the gear set up, hooks baited, and the Tench fizzing over the ground bait all we had left was to put the ground bait through the riddle so it would be a lot fluffier and would break down a lot faster as the maggots make their way through it. How I put my ground bait around my feeder is, first mould the ground bait around it. Then with my finger scrape out the inside, then I insert maggots and then cover it with more ground bait as the bait hits the water the finer powder will explode off it and as the feeder makes it way to the bottom, the maggots make their way out. With our rods out you could see the Tench fizzing over the areas we fed. Is still took another twenty minutes before a Tench found out not all the food was safe, with the alarm bleeping and the rod thumping I lifted the rod into my first Tench of the year. Then Dan’s rod took off. With both Tench landed, we decided to sack them up to see could we get a nice photo at the end of the day. With every Tench sacked and the day pushing on it was time to release them.
Frame one first mould the ground bait around it. Then with my finger scrape out the inside and insert maggots. Frame 2 cover it with finer ground bait, this will explode off the feeder as it hits the water. Frame three as the maggots dig their way through it, the ball will break up and draw the Tench closer to your hook bait.
Frame one sticky tacky ground bait is not much good when using on a feeder. Frame two put it on the riddle and add dry ground bait then with your fingers rub it through the riddle frame three, by doing this it will take out all the lumps and make it easier for the maggots to break it up when it is on the lake bead.
Dan with eleven Tench average weight 3lb 14oz all caught along the lilies over a bed of casters and hemp
A before and after picture of clearing a swim, from cutting back the rushes and raking out the lilies and weed it takes around three to four hours to clear a heavy weeded lakes properly
My first specimen Tench that weighed 6lb 8oz caught over a bed of hemp and sweetcorn
What I love most about Tench fishing is when the sun is rising over a flat calm lake you are able to see every Tench bubbles fizzing over across the lake
Spombs are a lot more accurate than a spod and it does not spill out any particles when casting due to the spomb when filled closes shut and will only open after it hits the water
Damo with his quiver tip rod bent into a Tench and after the morning feeding spell finished he got his Tench to pose for a photo
Killian with two cracking Tench from Cloonahee Lake
Rods; when ledgering a test curve of 1 ½ to 1 ¾ are good fun for fish to 5lb but if you are hunting larger Tench 1 ¾ to 2lb are more suited. I think that jw young’s Barbel rods are super; they have to top sections a ledger tip for when you are using alarms and a quiver tip for hands on fishing. They are especially good for casting distance feeders and won’t break the bank
Reels; any good bait runner when ledgering and any reliable smooth fix spool for quiver tipping
Bait; breadcrumb, red maggots, casters, sweetcorn, hemp, GROUNDBAIT SENSAS 3000 SUPER LAKE BREAM and worms you can use any of these on their own or add all of this together
Feeders, hooks and line; 40 to 60 gram distance feeders matched with a wide gape size 8 or size 6 hook. 15lb braid it still number one choice for my main line and 12lb to 15lb fluorocarbon for hook links