April is a week away. With luck, even the beginning of that happy month might see temperatures in the low teens, and if there are no Northerlies or Easterlies about, you can realistically begin to think about tench sport. This is what we all dream of, a frieze of the traditional tinca morning. The reeds around you a titter of warbler song. A bright, calm lake, and your chosen swim all frothy with those auspicious bubbles. A crimson float rocking, then diving, and the scream of a reel. A plump, pristine PB lying on a glistening mat whilst the cuckoo sings. This can be your reality.

Fabulous tench action for Dominic and Justin

Choose a swim dependent on the weather forecast – and pray for once it is right. If the wind is from the South or West, pick a swim where you want: if a Northern or Easterly, fish a bank that offers shelter. A Southerly in your face is good, an Easterly in your face is a killer. Try to plumb those swims before a session, so you know the depth and your plummet won’t disturb the waters on the day.


If you can, prebait the night before, or even a day or two in advance. If not, get to the water early and bait before you start putting up the gear. A bucket of Vitalin, mixed fairly soft and laced with red maggots and red 10mm boilies is my choice. I deliver it with a scoop close in, and a Spomb further out, but most of this float work is done in the first gully, generally little more than four rod lengths’ range. If baiting the night before, I’ll put in ten pounds minimum, on the day, half that. But I’ll always bear in mind club rules, weather conditions, and how prolific the water is, so fixed rules are hard to lay down.

More float action

A 13-14 foot float rod with a bit of beef to it. Six pound mainline and a five pound bottom is par, but go heavier in weed or snags. A waggler of some sort, I like reed, but plastic more than does. All the shot up top, locking the float, this way there is no shot in the water column – something tench loathe. Set that float at least one foot, or preferably two feet over depth, so the line hangs limp from top to bottom. That way, a tench brushing slack line will not bolt, terrified.


When you see bubbles, keep the bait going in

If there is a strong wind, a BB shot might just be needed, a foot from the hook, to stabilise things, but generally a 10/12mm boilie will give you all the weight you need for an anchor. Hair rig the bait, but use a short hair please… half an inch is well enough. A size 10 hook is a good starter. Bites should be bold. If the action is consistent, and you are seeing bubbles and rolling fish, keep baiting, a scoop every 15 to 30 minutes, depending. If bites slow down, step up the bait. And/or move to plastic maggots – 4/5 on a hair and a size 12 hook, or even 3 on a hair and a size 16. Test all your baits in the margins at your feet, or in a bucket. The more you work and the less you sit back idle, the more tench you will catch. 

Tench on!!

If absolutely nothing happens, and you sense the swim is dead, walk and watch other swims for any sign of tench activity. Talk to carpers. Ask if they caught tench overnight, and on what. Ask them if they have seen tench moving, and where. Every single heads-up you can glean is useful knowledge acquired. Remember too, that smaller tench swims can die after a few tench have been taken. If you want a full day’s sport, and if bankside pressure allows, it is good to have a further two swims baited and ready to go. See what I mean about working to get a result?


By and large, shallow estate lakes, ponds and pools fish best early doors, until the sun is well up. Most of my pits come on around 8.30am, and reach a high point between 10.00am and noon. It is a fact that many of the biggest tench I have seen have come late in the session, often around 1.00pm. It’s around this time that the lobworm comes into its own and often picks up a whopper. Expect action again from about 4.30pm until dusk.

They are my guidelines. Every water is different, and every session is unique. The one certainty is that if you rest, you rust. Keep thinking. Keep watching. Keep trying things until the safe is unlocked, and you are delivered the perfect day.