"Finding New Tench Waters"


by David Will



With the spring approaching many anglers begin the annual search for new waters to target in the warmer months. Sometimes this is an easy choice; You may have been given a tip or your choice will simply be limited by the distance you are able or willing to travel.

Being an eternal optimist and having the boredom threshold of a two year old I am generally always on the look-out for that special water. You know the one, unfished, full of big fish, if possible free and not too far from home.

I work on the basis that such a water does not exist but I try to get as close as possible to the ideal. For example, a tench or bream water thatís solely carp-fished counts as unfished.

In my neck of the woods waters such as this are common. Most anglers are carp anglers and the all round specialist is a rare beast indeed. Most are club waters that are joined for around £50.00 per year and at less than a pound a week this is close to being free as you are going to get.

What follows are a few tips to sort the wheat from the chaff.


Of the few syndicates I have ever joined all have been carp syndicates. Most have been expensive but they do offer certain advantages over club waters. The first may be rather surprising. I found that on the whole, once June had given way to July, you would have the place to yourself. Why this is so I do not know, but suspect carp anglers join several waters but end up fishing just one or two. This leaves the remaining waters quiet and under-fished.

Another advantage is that the tench, bream, roach, etc, are totally unfished for with methods that account for numbers of fish. I know they get caught on carp gear but believe me it is not a very efficient way of targeting these species.

An example is one very well known syndicate water. This was a boilie dominated venue and very few tench and bream got caught and I was told I was wasting my time. A maggot/particle approach accounted for up to 13 tench per session and these went up to nine pounds. Bream showed in catches over double figures. This has proved the pattern on similar waters down the years. I do accept that for that very big tench you may be better served by using boiled baits, but I would rather catch most of the time than spend a spring and summer blanking on most occasions.

Syndicates do tend to have more rules than my local club waters. Most are in the area of bait bans due to abuses in the past. So it pays to check before joining. If all particles are banned you will have a pretty limited armoury to start with.

Carp Orientated Club Waters

These waters make up the bulk of my local fishing. The M1, M25 and A1 all made possible a proliferation of gravel pits which clubs took on in the 50ís and 60ís. The rich waters of the Lea, Colne and Thames valleyís produce fish of specimen size in dozens of waters. In the early days the pits were used as pleasure and match waters as small fish flourished. Later bream dominated but over the last 30 years Carp have taken over as the dominant species. As a result many clubs now survive because of carp and carp anglers.

Thankfully the other species still flourish. Small fish are evident as fry in summer and early winter but serious fishing for match sized fish is a very hit or miss affair.

Along with other factors the bream, tench, roach, perch and, in some cases, rudd, can only be described as fantastic. Big fish of all these species are a viable target and save for a few notable exceptions the chances are you will be one of very few targeting them.

I would happily fish any of the club waters near to me and expect to catch good fish through the summer. A bit of research will however point to one or two with exceptional sized fish of one or two species in particular. I make no apology for saying that Club Secretaries and club officials are generally worse than useless when it comes to information. It is a case of getting on the waters and talking to the anglers fishing.


Walk the banks look for fish. In the hot spring days look for tench. They will be cruising the margins. Try to judge the sizes of the fish you see. Sadly most carp anglers do not weigh tench and bream but guestimate, usually very poorly. Visit the waters at dawn and dusk to identify areas in which tench and bream roll. Join the club that controls the water you fancy and fish it.

Your first efforts should revolve around a groundbait and maggot approach. This is a sure-fire way of getting some ideas of stocks. I usually fish from late afternoon for 24 hours a couple of times. This will put you in with a chance of both tench and bream. Do not be afraid to really pile in the bait either, and keep it topped up. Regular casting with the feeders followed up by a couple of balls of groundbait per rod will keep the swim active far longer than the traditional fill it in and leave it approach.

As the summer progresses you can narrow down your visits to feeding times and, if present, perch and roach should start to appear in catches. If the average size of fish is good , say 6 to 7lb for tench and 8 to 10lb for bream ( adjust weights for whatever part of the country you live in) stick with it as a very big fish may come.

Match Orientated Club Waters


Of those I know near me only one has proved worthwhile in terms of big fish. These waters do tend to be overrun with bream in the 2 to 5lb bracket. Now, while these are fun, every now and again I am afraid I cannot get over-enthusiastic about catching one after another. The targeting of bigger bream and tench, if they exist, is nigh on impossible due to the ravenous mouths these waters support. I do keep membership of a couple, but for winter perch and pike fishing - but that is another story.

Rules on these waters tend to be draconian . No night fishing and bait bans abound. This will give you an idea of the difficulty surrounding my effort to catch a decent carp from one such water. Nothing short of 26mm boilies will suffice and if you think tiger nuts are bream-safe then think again. Stalking individual carp has worked but is hit and miss. On the plus side the clubs that run such waters often have control of a not so popular water. This could prove to be one that due to low stock density is the one you find suits your needs. The bans that affect the prolific water may not apply or be totally inapplicable. I found one of my favourite waters this way so donít write off a club because it is match orientated. I used to fish another water that had a match orientated committee. Itís name? Ö.. Savay Lake!

Keep those eyes open and ears to the ground

  • Try and keep abreast of local gossip.
  • Get to know your local tackle dealer - Some of what they are told by anglers is actually true.
  • If you spend a few bob and learn to share a few snippets you should be rewarded.
  • Learn to ask questions. It is not an art many people seem to have acquired. The answers you get may be red herrings but don't dismiss all you are told thereafter. Out of ten tips if only one is the genuine article, so what! You will have succeeded.
  • Walk the banks again and ask questions.
  • Be polite.
  • If you ever see an older angler they can be invaluable sources. They are free with information and tend not to be competitive so have no hang ups.
  • When it comes to joining clubs or syndicates always write first.
  • Always enclose an SAE and tell the recipient something about yourself.
  • Tell them you want to fish for tench, bream, etc
  • Tell them that you are married/single and work wherever.
  • Do not do as some do and phone at 10.30pm and expect a warm welcome.
  • If they think you are another carp angler you may be ignored. Club secretaries are nearly all in my experience fair weather anglers. Most are pleasure anglers and love to have non-carp anglers in their clubs.
  • Again be polite and if you need to go to a meeting make an effort to be smart. I see too many turning up looking like they have spent a week on the bank.
  • Once in the club continue to ask questions and be prepared to give a little.
  • I wish you luck in your quest.
David Will

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