Friday, 16 May 2014

Early Season Tench — The Width of a Circle

Last year the tench season lasted about three days according to some. Depends what you mean exactly by 'the tench season,' though, doesn't it? If you say that three days was the entire time frame in which a specimen was to be caught at maximum weight before spawning commenced, then yes. It really was that brief.

So very brief that I blinked and missed it. Not that I missed blinkin' much by all accounts. It was dire at best.

I decided to put out an experimental rod equipped with a circle hook. I've used them before for tench and with startling results, results that I'll publish one day but not before catching a few by the same method from fisheries altogether less easy than Lemington Lakes where I conducted my initial experiments (hooking in excess of thirty in the five hour session but losing not a single one...) and at far greater weights.

Circle hooks really do work with thick lipped fish you know. It's just that you need to get the gape bang on or you lose them due to the mechanics of their hook-up. Get it right and it clamps down on the lip like a padlock ensuring that the hooked fish will never come off but just slightly too small a gape and it cannot get a proper hold. That means using hooks that look outsized for the intended quarry but actually are not.

Anyhow, I chucked that rod out left and fished a standard J hook rig at right. Both employed corn — two grains side hooked on the circle hook and two hair rigged on the standard. Martin fished two rods with worm on the hook and large feeders packed with groundbait and chopped worm.

He had the first run. A perch. I had the second. A roach.

I thought it a good enough roach for a photo considering that just two years ago they were unheard of at this venue unless young blades caught by the occasional match angler. They started to show up as by-catch on tench rigs at around the half-pound mark and have come in well over the pound recently. This was a lovely looking fish of 14 ounces.

On the J Hook ?


It was caught on the circle hook, was hooked perfectly in the lower lip, and that's food for thought...

Then Mr Rat made a visit and then Mrs Water-Vole too. Rodent bait spill battle entertainment whilst we whiled away the hours for the first of the expected tench of our evening

Martin had the third run. Another perch. I had the fourth run. A tench at last!

It was on for a minute or so before it was gone. Gape slightly too small I'm afraid and no doubt I'll explain exactly why that was the case at some length and in great detail at some future point but in a nutshell, the gape of the hook I was using will hook up but never let go of every tench that takes the bait up to a certain size but will not hook any fish above that weight. However, I don't actually know what the watershed weight for this particular gape size is!

Sounds mad? Circle hooks are...

But when they work... they're super bad!

Fifth run was Martin's. A perch exactly the same size as both of his previous brace. Worms won't work for tench here then...

There was no sixth run. So, we had our lake mate, James, take trophy shots of ourselves holding a couple of stand-in specimens we'd caught earlier...

And I'll tell you all about them...

Soon enough!


  1. Jeff,

    Those look similar to something I got for Christmas, of a photo I took of the "Pipes" on the Hampshire Avon, it's fabric over a wooden frame. It now hangs on the wall at home.

    1. The same thing, Monty. Canvas prints. They are good and I'll be runnng a promo piece on them soon enough, when I have the time!