Nordic Tench

Words and pictures: Lars Christensen

Tench – the Danish way!

Lars Christensen tries to track down a big ‘tinca’ in a country full of smaller tench – but his hard work pays off with some fine specimens…

In my native, Denmark tench can be found in abundance in most lakes, canals and rivers, especially in the eastern part of the country. However, it can prove tricky to find venues with consistent stocks of larger specimens. In many lakes it’s possible to catch plenty of tench, but they will rarely exceed 7lb, so if the hunt is on for a bigger specimen, it will often take time to find the right venue. In Denmark there’s no tradition for stocking tench in commercial waters, so almost all venues are either public or private lakes with natural stocks of fish. 

This spring I had my eyes sat on a medium sized natural Stillwater, which I knew held some bigger specimens. I had fished the venue in previous years catching a few good fish to just over 8lb, but I had a feeling there was bigger fish to be caught. I made sure to start my search for the tench a first light on each session, but at this particular venue no real fizzing was to be found, which I would expect to see loads of in most lakes. However, I would see the odd tench roll on the surface here and there. On some occasions I chose an area based on the rolling fish, but this didn’t wield any results to speak of.

On most of my sessions, as I got to know the venue better, I would typically bait two separate areas at the bottom of the slope into deeper water, as this seemed to be a reference for the fish on their patrol routes. In many other lakes of the same sort of size I would often find the tench in the margins as well, but in this lake, they seem to prefer the deeper water, even in the late spring and early summer. When leading around for features I found most parts of the bottom to be relatively firm without much debris nor weed growth. What I did find in slightly deeper water was bloodworm, as these sometimes stuck to the lead, and the reason for the tench preferring these parts of the lake became clear. 

Besides tench the lake contains loads of roach. So many in fact, that the first time I visited the venue I gave up using the lift method, which otherwise is a firm favorite of mine in the spring and early summer. Instead, I opted to use either scaled down carp rigs or method feeders fished in conjunction with slightly larger hook baits to avoid at least some of the hard feeding roach. I experimented with different pop ups and wafter hook baits, different flavours and different mixes of pellet, hemp, groundbait etc. The tench seemed to prefer fishy flavours to sweet ones and especially krill and bloodworm worked well. Match the hatch hook baits fished in conjunction with a method feeder seemed to produce the most bites, and after a few sessions where I experimented with different hook link materials and hook patterns, I felt I had found the right presentation.

My preferred set up was a size 10 curve shank tied to 12lb coated braid to present a trimmed down 12mm dumbbell wafter. I used this in conjunction with a large flatbed feeder and around 15 inches of tungsten tubing. The coated braid and tubing aided with abrasion resistance which was much needed as sharp rocks and other snags on the marginal shelf sometimes proved it difficult to land the fish in shallow water. On the feeder I used a krill method mix with krill and bloodworm micro pellets, and my spod mix consisted of hemp, 4- and 6-mm krill and bloodworm pellets, crushed bloodworm and krill boilies, krill powder and krill liquid. I baited my spots with limited quantities of my mixture as I wouldn’t risk filling up the few tench entering my baited areas.

I was well aware that a lot of the bait would get eaten by the roach but baiting little and often made me rest assured there would be enough smell in the area to draw the tench in and hopefully entice them to pick up my hook baits pretty quickly. Often, I would wait for many hours for a bite, and then often two or even three takes would occur on the same spot within an hour. This seemed to prove my theses, that the tench would enter the baited areas in small groups when on their natural patrol route. Depending on the specific swim I would use two or three rods and have my traps distributed over a couple of baited spots which the tench seemed likely to pass by. Quite often only one of the spots would produce bites on the day, and I would then concentrate my efforts on that particular spot.

In late May I chose to fish a swim located on the middle part of the lake, a place which commanded a big part of the water and where it seemed likely that groups of fish would be able to enter my baited areas from different directions. However, in reality all of the ten takes I received on a 24-hour session came to the middle rod even though two of my rods was cast to the same baited area. On this session everything seemed to come together, and all the time invested in walking, watching the water, prepping and refining my methods and approach payed off. The result was several beautiful fish landed and an 8lb plus brace of fish topped off by a 9lb 1.5oz specimen which measured 64 cm. A great session shared with a good friend with plenty of laughs, good coffees and all in all quality time spend on one of my absolute favourite species, the hard fighting and beautiful doctor fish, the old Tinca Tinca.

Lars with one of his many fine specimens – a big tench is the finest-looking coarse fish for many anglers