Although not essential, there are two strategies for tench that could catapult that early morning on the canal from mediocre to mind-blowing: raking and pre-baiting. A weed rake is a great way to clear a swim for fishing on a neglected canal. Not only does this render tangled areas fishable, it also stirs up the bottom, dislodging food and creating a commotion that is sure to draw the inquisitive tench.
Exeter Angling Centre’s Dave Sellick had a real battle with this canal cracker.
Grand Western Canal Fishing Photo Gallery
Raking can also be combined with pre-baiting, which is simply the act of priming your chosen swim with suitable bait well before you cast out. This can be done the night before, or indeed across several visits in the days leading up to your next trip. Baits needn’t be costly for this, and fine particles are ideal to keep the tench occupied for long periods in one area. Parti-mixes offer one solution, but perhaps the all-time classic is a mixture of stewed hempseed and sweet corn.
A Newport Canal fish comes to the net.
Whether you’ve prepared in this fashion or not, tench are definite creatures of habit. They have favourite patrol routes and, equally, favourite times to feed. In warm summer weather, an early start is almost invariably peak time, although late in the day is also good. In the cool climes of early spring, the late afternoon, when the sun has had a few hours to wake the fish up, can be the best period to try.
The weed rake is an excellent way to create your own ‘hot spot’.
It has been said repeatedly that tench don’t feed at night or in the middle of the day. These are not the best times, but I leave you to draw your own conclusions. I once caught a tench at 3am in March while waiting for the elusive carp on one of my local canals; I had a job bringing it in because my landing net had frozen solid to the bank.