What's the Catch? Happy to be angling again - and looking for a tinca tinca

It’s been wonderful to get back to the sport I love. Nothing beats the pleasure of arriving at one of our club’s lovely lakes on an early summer’s morning and watching the sun’s rays reflecting off the water.

A tench - or tinca tinca
A tench - or tinca tinca

The peace and tranquillity is unmatched as I gaze out across the surface looking for the tell-tale signs of fish on the move or pin-prick bubbles streaming to the surface.

At this time of year, especially as we have been enjoying a splendid run of unseasonal good weather, you can be fairly certain that whatever fish exist in your lake or pond, they can all be lured into your net.

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For many the target species will be carp. If they have finished spawning they will be hungry and on the lookout for an easy meal. As a rule, they will muscle out virtually every other species which sometimes can be very annoying, but anglers love them because once hooked they put up a terrific scrap.

One of Sussex's 'tench lakes'

For me, however, there are other species that I seek out, in particular one fish that symbolises early summer fishing, ladies and gentlemen I give you tinca tinca, better known as the tench.

This close relative of the carp is the classic small pond warrior, and come the summer warmth, there is no greater sight then watching your float suddenly slide away as our quarry makes a dash towards the safety of lily beds or weed banks that are their natural domain.

But you have to be quick – as soon as the cold weather arrives our quarry disappears into depths and virtually hibernates until the warmth of summer returns.

I can distinctly remember one glorious June morning back in 1970, the opening day of the fishing season, bunking off lessons to go after tench. The venue was a small pond that at the time was free to fish.

For the previous three nights, my good friend, fishing companion and partner in crime Graham had been pre-baiting two swims with a mixture of breadcrumbs and bran.

Getting up at 3.30am we cycled to the venue, arriving just as the sun was rising, eager to fish. We were greeted by an extraordinary sight, our swims were a mass of small bubbles, fizzing away as if someone had installed a jacuzzi in the pond.

Flicking my porcupine quill float with a juicy worm on the hook, the action was almost instantaneous. The float shot up, lay flat on the surface and then glided away. A classic tench bite, I struck and was met with solid thump of a powerful fish five minutes later.

After successfully preventing a couple of dashes to the weed I was looking at a plump 3lb tench, a vision of olive green, powerful tailfin, and that bright red eye.

In the four hours we fished we must have landed a good two dozen tench plus some lovely crucian carp, another personal favourite. None was much more than 4lb but what sport we had, even though it led to a detention when we finally rolled into school at 9.30.

Tench don’t reach giant sizes – although the record is just over 15lb, the vast majority caught will be a lot smaller: 3lb is nice fish, 6lb is a fish to cherish and a double is a fish of a lifetime. But what they all have in common is a powerful will to not being caught.

So, if you want to catch one of these fish just follow some basic rules, find a nice weedy spot and give them plenty to eat, use a meaty bait like worms, maggots or luncheon meat, keep a close eye on your float and get up very early or fish as the sun goes down. Oh, and keep an eye on the time, otherwise its detentions all round.

Steve Penticost