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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


Some Ideas That Might Help You Put More Fish on the Bank

This season I have spent more time than usual fishing still waters for tench, including a new water at Tewitfield, as we know these fish can be incredibly easy to catch especially at the start of the season, it didnít happen this year. Fishing many lakes in the south or north of England the tench have been extremely hard to catch, even when using simple float or leger tackle. In past seasons when I have raked and baited a swim I usually caught fish within an hour, not this year. On some venues I have had to rake and bait for three or four days before I catching a few fish.

There have been many sessions when I have had fish rooting in the bottom of my swim creating a mass of pin head bubbles, but still the fish wouldnít settle and feed. I might get a couple of fish then for the next twenty four hours nothing. Many anglers up and down the country have experienced similar conditions. The big catches of summer caught tench havenít happened so far this year. Peter Dawson of Carlisle sent me an e-mail as I was writing this article in which he writes Iíve had a few sessions at my local fishery just as you describe in your recent article with the fish presuming having sex on their minds and bubbles everywhere and yet not a bite no matter what I try. Strange this fishing lark at times eh? Good luck with the tenching at Tewitfields John Williams in Suffolk sent me the following e-mail Martin I had some thirty plus tench in my swim yesterday, rooting around and sending up masses of bubbles, bit of weed and twigs,lots of liners, but not a bite.

I have had to refine my techniques this season and I reckon itís all down to the cooler than normal summer, on some waters the tench havenít spawned and we are well into July. With the extra water the temperatures have been up and down, also on some lakes there has been in an increased in the acreage of water available to feeding fish. In previous years baits like big lobworms, large chunks of crust or flake, egg size bits of sausage or luncheon meat and 14 mm boilies have been very successful, not this season. I am not saying you cannot still catch fish on these baits, you can but its not so easy.

This season itís been the rebirth of small baits for success, corn size pieces of sausage or Pallatrax jungle paste bait moulded on a piece of cork fixed to a short hair close to the hook has probably successful. Having said that sweet corn, casters and gentles have also accounted for many tench, this season I have used more gentles and casters as hook and ground bait than I have used in the past twenty years, even a red worm have proved better than a lobworm. The only drawback is the cost of using caster and gentles, its no use turning up for a two day session with a pint of bait; I reckon you need 4 pints or more for a two day session. Gary Newman of Anglers Mail one of the countries most successful all-round angler rates casters very highly for tench. If you use two or three hair rigged imitation casters you donít have to worry so much about small fish taking the bait. Last season I used the D rig a small fine wire clip which you thread the gentles on, which proved very successful, not so this season. I did find using two or three gentles super glued to a short hair occasionally proved successful when you see the odd fish rooting in your baited swim.

In previous seasons a paternoster or running rig was all I needed for success. This season the bolt rig has been a far better way of getting more hook ups. Now I donít want the traditionalists to criticise the bolt rig, itís legal and effective. In fact I have seen several so called traditionalists fishing the River Kennet for barbel with their centre pin reels and cane rods waiting for the reel to screech as line is taken by a hooked fish. Some are using a leger weight on the line stopped a foot or so from the hook by a swivel, then a few inches further up the line they have a plastic stop. In my book this is a bolt rig. Thatís the reason for the screaming runs.

Letís not forget that in conjunction with the bolt rig we usually use a hair to hold the bait. If you havenít got the length of hair right you will miss a lot of takes. The fish will often move off holding the bait between its lips, in fact they do this more times than many anglers realise. If I am using Pallatrax fluorocarbon as a hook link, I will use a Stonze in-line or a safety bolt rig. When using braid I use a helicopter rig which I find eliminates most tangles. Some tench have fallen to a single grain of corn or a couple of imitation casters using a Pallatrax Stumpy rig. This is also a good rig if youíre seeking carp using boilies.

Swim Feeders and PVA Bags

One idea I havenít tried is the use of a swim feeder, I plan to rectify this on my next trip, I will use a swim feeder filled with gentles, fished as a self hooking rig. The hook link will be no longer than four inches probably two. The hook will have a fine hair about half an inch tied on the bend of the hook to which I will super glue two or three gentles. If youíre planning to copy me in using a feeder I suggest you donít use a long hook link, otherwise you are likely to find you have crushed or sucked gentles when you check your bait. You will need to be spot on with your casting dropping the feeder in the same spot time after time. One of the big advances in angling has been the use of PVA bags to get bait samples close to the hook. In the past itís usually been dried crushed hemp or pellets. Today with Cotswolds bait creations PVA friendly particles we can use hemp or mixed particles even maize. In addition to these particles they also have tiger nuts for the carp angler. They come in a re-sealable bucket. During a quiet period at the waterside itís quite easy to tie up a few bags. I hope some of these ideas might help you put a few tench on the bank. Then hopefully when summer returns the tench will go back to taking big baits once again and we can make big catches of these fine fish.

Martin James Fishing