Tench (Tinca tinca) is a freshwater fish found in the waters of Asia and Europe. It's also commonly referred to as the doctor fish. It belongs to the Cyprinidae family. Tench live in brackish reservoirs and slow flowing rivers with muddy bottoms. Another characteristic is that they have a high tolerance for water with low oxygen content.

Tench grow slowly. Their weight rarely exceeds over 4.5 lb (2 kg) but we must note that larger representatives of the species have been caught before. For example, a tench weighing 10 lb (4.64 kg) was caught in the Swedish river Ljungan. Still, its length can come out to longer than 19 3/4″ (50 cm). You can also recognize a tench by its interesting coloration. Its body is colored olive green, with golden nuances visible in some spots and is covered with tiny scales.

The tench's body is definitely not designed for quick and sudden movements. The fins of the fish are rounded and relatively small. Its eyes are not very large, colored red. Tench have a pair of barbels, making it easy to recognize which family the species belongs to. The body of tench is covered in a slippery slime.

Thanks to it, it manages to easily go through areas impassible for other fish. The theory is that this slime is the reason why neighboring predators in its water reservoir do not attack it. Another fascinating detail is that the male specimens of this species are clearly distinct from the females. In males, the ventral fins are longer.

Tench Behavior

Tench fish

Tench prefer a peaceful and quiet life, which is why they can be found in still water and dam reservoirs with overgrown vegetation. It is an exceptionally lazy fish, sometimes spending years on end in just one given zone of a water body. Its movements are quite gentle and long-drawn.

Its diet consists mainly of organisms it can find on the muddy bottom - most often worms and fry. Tench dislike low temperatures and for this reason are seen in the shallow areas of water bodies.

They prefer those areas because they are the first to warm up during the day and the last to cool off. The only condition is for vegetation to be in proximity, the presence of which has a relaxing effect on the fish. Tench multiply quickly. It throws several batches of roe.

Catching Tench

Fishing for tench is an ambitious undertaking that manages to excite even the most veteran of fishermen. Due to the fish's cautious and slow movements, fishermen have been forced to come up with all kinds of tactics for luring this water sloth.

Some hardcore enthusiasts even prepare paddles which they use to stir up the water bottom vegetation. However, one needs to be very careful because they can easily scare the fish. Otherwise, there are all kinds of tench bait. Boiled corn and aromatized boiled wheat are effective options.

Peat and earthworms are most widely used. Groundbait is also of import. It can contain parts of the other bait. You can get these from specialized stores or simply use plain old bread. You shouldn't use too much, it's enough to simply tempt the fish's senses with it.

Cleaning Tench

Before you begin preparing tench you need to clean it very thoroughly. First wash the fish under running water. Then carefully pour hot water over it to remove the slime. Then wash it once more with cold water. To prevent the fish from slipping in your hands you can sprinkle it with salt. Next, remove the insides of the fish. To do this, make a cut along its belly and remove the organs.

Be careful not to cut the gall bladder since this will then ruin the taste of the fish. After, remove the gills as well. When it comes to the scales of tench, not all chefs remove them. But if you would like to, submerge the fish in boiling water for no longer than 15 min., then immediately put it in cold water. Carefully scrape off the scales with the dull side of the knife starting from the tail and moving down toward the head of the fish.

Marinated Tench

Cooking Tench

Tench is not a fish commonly seen in stores and restaurants. So, to eat this fish you will have to catch it and cook it yourself. According to experienced chefs, this type of fish can be used to substitute carp in many recipes. Despite this there do exist differences between the 2 species. The meat of tench is delicious and very soft. Another plus side is that there aren't as many annoying bones as we see in carp.

The only downside is the smell of mud, which can be suppressed if a little vinegar is poured into the mouth of the fish. Tench can be served with a garnish or put into various stews, soups, fish salads. Breaded, smoked and marinated tench are also quite tempting. When preparing tench, it's recommended to season it with olive oil, lemon, paprika and black pepper, marjoram, tarragon, oregano, dill and parsley. It goes excellent with carrots, peppers, tomatoes, olives, onions and garlic.

Benefits of Tench

Tench meat is tasty and very healthy. It is easily absorbed by the human body and loads it with numerous beneficial substances. Because of this property it is recommended especially for children and adults who are on special types of diets. Tench is a source of potassium, boron, iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and others. Vitamin A and vitamin B are also found in the fish. Experts state that regular consumption of tench prevents heart problems and has a positive effect on brain function.


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