Monday, 22 May 2017

Closed Season Zander Quest PT64 – Clupeidae and Petromyzontiformes

With only a few sessions remaining of my Double Figure Zander Quest before my mind wanders to flowing water and how I will start the new season, I had a quick review of my blog posts and it really highlighted what a poor closed season it’s been for me.

I made some proper good strides last year with quite a few decent fish caught with the biggest a 9lb’er and I really thought I’d manage some nice fish again this year.

It’s just not happened for me and I cannot put my finger on it.

I don’t want to fish the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal just yet as it’s outside of my jurisdiction and not my patch but it’s testing all ones resolve. I’ve kept a media eye on this stretch of canal and there does seem to be some very big Zander being caught from time to time.

If you don’t know much about this canal, have a butchers on Google earth, it’s nothing like other navigation's.

The canal opened in 1827 to bypass a particularly treacherous stretch of the River Severn below Gloucester. Now it was for sea going ships so you can only imagine the size it would have to be.

It’s on a scale as a regular cut angler cannot comprehend.

Just look at some of the stats….

86ft wide, 18ft deep and could take crafts of 190ft long and 29ft wide.

You can see why big Zander like it here, they have room to stretch. No doubt bigger means more fish and if you look at what is being caught other fish are getting bigger too.

Big Carp, Big bream, you name it.

The thing is I would feel like I’m doing myself a disservice, after all I’ve proved there are some nice fish to be caught in Warwickshire and Bards country and I don’t need to travel an hour and a bit to catch something that needs the proper scales.

It boils down to I want to catch one on my doorstep, in ones postcode.

The river season cannot come soon enough though as I’m being tested at the minute, seriously it would have broken a lesser man. After catching the umpteenth ten a penny Zander for the float to dip and another one wants to play, it can feel like getting kicked in the knackers time after time and another go for good measure.

So a few sessions left and I’ll continue the quest next year.

So on to this session, it was back to the drudgery. A visit to the tackle shop the freezer was a baron as mine, so with some lamprey and some herring added to the Tesco order, I was hoping this was the Michelin Star the bigger females were after. I've never used herring before but no reason why is wouldn't catch Zander I suppose, be nice to try it out anyway. I also had some lamprey though and I've caught Zander on that before, both tainted with some predator plus liquid.

I wanted to cover and area of thicket that was been largely ignored, it needs to be fish now too as the banks grow so quick now they become very overgrown and difficult to fish.

Leapfrogging is the key here and within minutes I had a run on the herring but premature on the strike the fish felt resistance and dropped the bait.

They were on the feed that's for sure and quickly found the bet as it sat on the bed. The biggest fish of 3lb 8oz came as a nearby lock was opened and the lamprey section drifted out of position. Zander hunt on sight after all and the movement must have stirred it's predatory senses.

One fish caught on herring but it was clear that Lamprey was the order of the day.

9 fish banked, runs missed.

Not a bad morning, sadly the big ones elusive as ever.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Closed Season Zander Quest PT63 – Boustrophedons and Bumpershoots

It’s been rather unsettled of this week, mild, rain in spells and rather unpredictable, a little like this Zander quest of mine which for this closed season has been disappointing to say the least.

What is not unpredictable though is how I have been approaching it, a rather boustrophedon manner when a pattern form in covering a water with a bait to maximise any chances of finding fish.

I’m an engineer after all…. 

Last weekend I was at a friend’s wedding in sunny Falmouth and it turned in to a couple of days of bladderation, in moderation of course, but with the long drive and lack of sleep the start of the week I was proper knackered.

The venue in Falmouth had a private beach and extensive exotically stocked gardens so a stroll to the beach and then uphill back numerous times, decent footsteps were covered so I barely had time to put my feet up despite the fact we were kid less for the weekend.

I’m 45 this year remember, so my battered bones because of the uphill paper round take ever increasing time to recover these days, but one thing fishing is good for is relaxing, so it doesn’t need the 4 or 5 miles I often cover over a 5 hour session but you can take a more static approach.

So for this short evening session some nice thicket provided a much needed umbrella for likely light rain but for something different I’d also fish a lure to see if the milder water would have the fish, if in residence this, a little more active than they have been. Also I wanted to fish this one particular area of cover to see if I could spot some carp that sometimes hang about here.

I’d hooked and lost a couple the previous year, and not only would they be bigger now but I’d be more prepared and in fact because of the disappointing quest thus far I might even dedicate a remaining session or two for them.

To be honest, as I’ve said a few times recently it’s testing my resolve. The bloggers species challenge, a forgotten pursuit.

Bait for this session, not my favoured roach sections but whole small roach, the dregs of the bait freezer and then a sleeper rod out for carp that I know habit this area.

As you know I plan my session and this one was no different, what I didn’t factor in to the mix though was a three rod carper was sat in the swim I wanted to fish so it meant after a few pleasantries I was on the march again.

I know this area well though so after probably near a mile I’m eventually fishing.

Nearly two hours in open water and biteless I’m on my way again.

The section of cover has some carp so a handful of pellets with a snowman rig over the top and a deadbaits tight to some cover it was stand back and wait, this time the heavens opened and I’ve taken shelter.

Not long after the sleeper rod starts to have the odd beep and sure enough something is making the rod top bang. I thought it was a bream at first because a carp would have screamed off but after striking in to the fish it became clear, it was a bleeding Zander. 

Obviously hungry then….

I moved up the cover and the same was done, deadbaits tight to cover, sleeper in a nice cut out in the thicket.

This time the float starts to move after a few minutes.

As expected for my quest for this closed season, another splasher.

I’ve had a enough by now, South Indian prawn curry and a couple of beers are in order.
I’m out Sunday somewhere, decisions decisions.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Closed Season Zander Quest PT62 – Fat Females, Feast and Famine

I usually turn right, today I turned left….

It’s an area I’d fished before but after a few blank sessions it vanished off my radar but then the last time here there were Zander, in numbers too.

A spawn filled female, albeit a youngster and starry-eyed hormone riddled males….

They were aggressive as well giving me a right doing over when a few were caught, pound for pound they were Ricky Hatton in his early days.

Lean and mean, full of beans….

I was here to try and see if like Ricky, their gloves were in storage and they were on the kebabs, pizza’s and pies.

Remember Ricky lost 5 stone, (yes really) for his comeback fight against Vyacheslav Senchenko after his 2nd round loss to Manny Pacquiao where he weighed in at 10 stone 5 lb’s. He lost in the 9th after a proper good kidney punch and couldn’t recover and that was the end of him as a boxer but like Hatton I’ve found with these Zander, they do like their food.

Then again don’t we all….

A little like the newlywed bride with the ring on her finger, even relatively small framed fish can pack on the poundage, and quickly too….

But the truth is, a little like the Fatty Arbuckles nights out in Coventry, it was the more fuller figured females I was searching for with modesty a forgotten trait. Come winter will save a fortune on heating bills, but not only that be they are the only way I’m going to conclude my Quest for a cut double.

There was a frost on my windscreen in the morning so the water would have been relatively cold overnight but the day was pleasant with much sunshine and bit like us humans the sun gets us off that couch and gets us moving.

The was a short 2 hour after work session and with a busy weekend where fishing wouldn’t feature it needed to count.

My bait fridge was rather sparse so bait for this session was small really old and rather manky looking whole roach rather than the sections I use. After an hour and a half with baits positioned and lure here and there I was biteless but then the right hand rod started to move and a bite developed.

As soon as I struck in to the fish I knew it wasn't a tiny splasher but still not what I'm after, it was soon netted and weighed 2lb 13oz's. With it still in the net the other float starts to move and a fish was on. This time the ten a penny schoolie which is the norm when I started the quest in anger again. I assume a pack moved in like they do.

20 minutes left, no more bites at least it was a few more points earned.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Closed Season Zander Quest PT61 – Alongside the Jörmungandr

So the Bloggers Challenge has kicked-in and points are being registered on the score board but for me, my mind is elsewhere, the river is my thing you see and that’s where my allegiances will lie when the 15th of June comes around, so I’ve only got the option of continuing on with my cut double. 

I might have a dabble for a Chub in the cut mind you after a chin wag in the local tackle shop but this is another full on Zander session. For this one I was positioned slap bang in the middle of the 2 mile stretch between the Tefal head and the Laryngeal prominence adjacent to the Jörmungandr.

My usual haunts seem to have far less Zander than last closed season that’s for sure , it’s very noticeable looking at my blog posts this time last year.

Sessions are much tougher, far less Zander being caught and plenty of banks. A few theories’ I have within one’s mind got me thinking about maybe trying somewhere where I’ve previously overlooked.

I’d not fished her in anger before, just maybe a lure here or there but not sure why really as, ok, the far bank cover is less consistent but there is still feature in abundance that I’m sure will be home to some Zander, hopefully the odd larger ones at that.

The stretch is eerily quiet, sees little foot traffic, barges occasionally yes, but not as prevalent as some stretches I fish.

What I like though, it probably hasn’t seen many or even any anglers apart from oneself recently which I’m sure is a plus point when targeting these transient fish.

Another change apart from the usual deadbait set-up was that the lure rod would be donned with a crayfish replicant. I’d had a dabble with these before with the odd nibble to show for it but not tried them for Zander.

It was nice and quiet on the canal for this session and deadbaits were left a little longer than I usually do. An inquiry quite early on a fish was on but like a lot of Zander bites, it was a schoolie nibbling at the bait and probably let go when it felt some resistance.

The 2nd swim produced the first fish on deadbait 1lb 13oz's,

A <2lb fish seems to be the stamp of these canal Zander and like me other find much larger fish to come by. The next fish was exactly that 2oz's bigger and caught on the crayfish lure.

I'd considered swapping lure because it was getting snagged quite a bit and bringing up dead leaves and sticks but I persevered with it and a fish was caught.

I might give it a go on a clear river for something different too.

2 more schoolies it was time to venture back, these canal Zander are everywhere it seems.

Large one elusive as ever.
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