Category Archives: Specimen

A Golden Reward

After many years targeting a local venue in search of crucian carp, Andy Lewis finally slipped the net under his target species on a recent trip.


Andy’s setup consisted of a 15ft Matchpro Ultralight rod coupled with a small fixed spool reel loaded with 4lb Supplex mainline. For delicate bite indication, he used a 1.6g Glow Tip Antenna Waggler fished just over depth at the bottom of the marginal shelf. After laying an initial bed of bait consisting of groundbait and 1mm pellets Andy kept alternating between casters and corn on the hook and it wasn’t long before the resident tench were queuing up.

“After catching numerous tench up to 6lb, I received a much more delicate dip and the tip began to dance before lifting out of the water. After a short battle, the fish was safely guided into the waiting net. It weighed 2lb 5oz, much lighter than expected, but a truly stunning fish nonetheless and one I have been after for a long time.”

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The Glorious 16th

Today is the glorious June 16th when Britain’s rivers are finally open for coarse fishing once again. Martin Bowler has been patiently waiting to wet a line and lends some valuable advice for targeting a prized river specimen.


Martin Bowler with the late Terry Lampard.

A river never sleeps nor does its fish and on the glorious 16th the fish are ravenous!

Standing in a set of chest waders my feet were firmly planted on the gravel bottom while the force of the flow tries its best to move me, but by leaning upstream slightly I could negate this pressure and get on with the reason I was here.

A rod with a bait dropper sat in one hand while the other delved deep into the bait pouch around my midriff, scooping out a handful of freshly cracked hemp and its nutty aroma suddenly overwhelming the scent of the countryside. Six payloads were dispatched onto the same bed I was standing on but a further 12 feet out in deeper, more powerful water that would simply wash me away. With the aid of polaroids I could however still see the bottom and within minutes four chainmail-clad chub arrived, with their grey contrast impossible to miss. Even if I did the gulping mouths would have given the game away.

For the next five minutes, these were my only guests until I was certain more shadows had begun to appear, their coloration making them difficult to spot against the stones. Staring a little harder and allowing my eyes to adjust it was like tuning an out of focus TV and I mouthed the word ‘barbel’. Then, as if to give me confirmation, one turned side on and flashed its big white belly. A feeding orgy could now commence with puffs of silt heading downstream as the bottom was dug up in a bid to get every seed.

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Trio Of Tench

A recast at first light produced three bites for Southampton based Matthew Fernandez on his recent tench session.


Arriving at the lake around 7pm Matthew walked a few laps around the lake and it was not long before he spotted a few tench rolling against a set of lily pads. He then baited the area with a few balls of krill groundbait consisting of pellets and other small particles.

“I put two rods on the area, each with a simple helicopter rig incorporating a short 10lb Supplex Fluorocarbon hooklink with size 10 Super Specialist Barbel hook baited with a krill wafter and a single grain of corn. Instead of using a lead, I used an XL Oval Groundbait feeder filled with the same krill mix.”

That evening passed unsuccessful, but at first light, a recast brought an instant response. Three tench were landed in quick succession weighing 6lb 8oz, 7lb 1oz, and the biggest going 8lb 8oz.

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Catch And Release

Martin Bowler took this amazing underwater photo after a successful tench session on a crystal-clear gravel pit.


Follow the big-fish expert on Facebook for more inspirational images.

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Tench Fall To Red Maggots

Swim preparation helped Drennan’s Ryan Hayden land eight tench on his recent session to a Southern gravel pit.


Arriving the evening before Ryan prepared two spots, one down the marginal shelf alongside a weed bed using a traditional rake and one at around 40 yards using a castable rake to clear an opening amongst the weed. He then introduced 6 spombs of hemp, dead red maggots and caster onto each spot ready for first light.

Just before first light the alarm kicked into action and the first tench of the session was making it’s way towards the net. Between then and 7am I had landed another

All the fish were caught using In-Line Bolt Rig feeders filled with red maggots and a short 3in hooklink of 15lb Gravel Braid tied to a size 12 Super Specialist Barbel hook baited with two Buoyant maggots on a short hair.

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Quest For A 2lb Roach

Ryan Hayden joins Martin Bowler in search of a 2lb roach from Milton Abbas lake in Dorset in this week’s Angling Adventures.


Grab yourself a copy of this week’s Angling Times to find out how they got on and the tactics used. Angling Times is in the shops every Tuesday and is also available via download on Apple and Android devices.

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Charm Tench On Worms

Simon Ashton visits Linear fisheries near Oxford in search of big tench in this week’s Angler’s Mail.


In the article, Simon runs through his approach when targeting gravel pits as well as some tips and tricks to help you catch more tench.

To check out the full article, pick up a copy of Angler’s Mail from your local newsagent or simply download an online version via your Apple or Android device.

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Tench On The Lift Method

Drennan’s Ian Brooker recently had a great session on a local gravel pit, catching six tench to 8lb 2oz during a short morning feeding spell.


All of the fish were caught using the classic lift method in a swim he’d raked a couple of days before. Ian used a 14ft Matchpro Ultralight float rod, centrepin loaded with 6lb line fished straight through to a size 14 Specimen hook with either big bunch of red maggots or a piece of lobworm.

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Drennan Cup Winner 2015-16

A huge congratulations to Dai Gribble who was voted this year’s Drennan Cup winner!


Dai Gribble was presented with the Drennan Cup at Linear Fisheries.

As well as collecting the famous trophy, Dai also received a win­ners’ cheque for £2,000, which helps reward the time and dedication spent chasing the biggest coarse fish in the country.

In the closest-ever finish in the Drennan Cup’s 31-year history, Dai became the envy of the big fish scene when votes cast by previous weekly winners put him just two points ahead of Yorkshire’s Tony Smith.

Dai sent shockwaves through the angling world when he began his campaign with an incredible string of tench hauls. He first banked a huge 13lb 3oz fish that was backed up by no fewer than seven other double-figure specimens during an unforgettable session in May at Medway Valley Fisheries in Kent.

Just a few weeks later he switched to another venue and made tench fishing history when he banked the biggest-ever tench caught by design weighing in at a colossal 14lb 12oz. The specimen later graced his net for a second time, this time, an ounce heavier at 14lb 13oz!

Not only did he land 16 double-figure tench during the spring, but his summer was completed when he struck gold again, this time with another species – a 20lb 10oz bream, along with six other ‘doubles’ that secured his third Drennan Weekly Award of the season.

“By the end of June I’d made five catches that were all once-in-a-lifetime achievements in their own right, and anglers that I hold in the highest regard were saying ‘Dai you’ve got the Drennan in the bag’. I didn’t even dare to dream that this could be the case,” he told Angling Times.

Peter Drennan said: “In any other season Tony Smith with four awards across four different species would have walked away as the overall winner. But a run of giant tench and most of all a truly massive 20lb+ bream drew a tiny majority of the discerning voters in favour of Dai. 

“What a fantastic season both of these dedicated specimen hunters have enjoyed, so serious congratulations to them!”

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The Art of the Lift Method

Still water specimen hunting is predominantly based around bolt rigs and buzzers, which is understandable given its effectiveness. Not only is this true for carp but tench as well.


There is a period, generally, from mid-May onwards, where a more traditional approach will have its day and for once the scream of an alarm won’t indicate success but instead the dip of a float, giving you one of angling’s classic moments with the lift method.

tench-underwaterGeneralising is a dangerous thing but at the start of the tench season with the water still cool they remain within reach of only a feeder. Longer days, higher temperatures and in my experience, damselflies emerging change the tinca’s habits and now the margins become a favoured place suddenly richer in natural food. At such close quarters the bolt rig loses its impact and if you know how to fish the float correctly you will catch far more.

martin-drennan-rod-dragonflyThe perfect scenario for me is to arrive the evening before to utilise another method many would believe belonged in a museum – the rake. In fact, it’s 2 stainless steel rake heads placed back-to-back and wired together. It’s important they are heavy hence the stainless steel so they tear into the bottom and not skip over it. Once tied on the end of a length of rope it can be thrown to the base of the marginal shelf.

I will do this regardless of whether there is weed or not because just the action of turning over the bottom is highly attractive. Is this due to the fact that natural food is released? Yes, but I believe, crucially, the shine from a freshly turned bottom is also very attractive as it looks as if other tench have been feeding there and makes it worth investigating. This is boosted further by a little pre-bait and if small fish aren’t an issue maggots or caster and hemp combo would be my first choices, only if necessary to avoid small silverfish pellet or corn would be added. Whatever is selected it wouldn’t be much and certainly no more than half a pint. Once prepared the night would be a relaxing affair as I wouldn’t be fishing.

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