|Moonlit night on the wilds of the Staffordshire savanna|
I even went out barbel fishing on Friday night on a local stretch of river, but after the heavy rain the previous night the river was up a foot or so and full of loose streamer weed that made it a nightmare to keep the bait in position. Needless to say I gave it up as a bad idea after less than an hour of trying. In the past I might have stuck it out but I can't be bothered with all that hassle nowadays preferring to return when conditions are easier to manage. The fish may have been on the feed in these flood conditions but this is a river that is notoriously difficult anyway so I didn't fancy punishing myself too much and hauling in 10lb of weed every cast !!
I have been trying for more zander on the lures but have been failing miserably of late, so instead with the strong desire to see a float slide under and a zander in the net I fished a float session for them on the canal last night. I took a float rod for catching baits and a barbel rod for the zeds loaded with 12lb line, a small pellet waggler float with chemical light and just simple 20lb 7strand trace and single hook. In case I didn't catch any baits I popped into Morrison's and bought a small trout for £1.12 which turned out to be a good move.
While I set up the bait float rod and remembered what to do (it's been a little while), I cast the zed float out with a strip of trout from the flank doubled over to expose the flesh and hooked neatly through the skin. The skin is very tough so there is little chance of the bait coming off even with a distance cast. On the canal though it is more a case of under arm pendulum swing to get it near to the trees or reeds and not in them or on the opposite bank. Before I had the bait catching rod ready I saw a boat coming up the canal at distance, the zed float was in a perfect position so I didn't want to move it until I really had to. I waited a bit more then saw the float glide away under the surface in towards the overhanging trees. "Only one thing this can be", I thought as I stuck into something. The fish put up quite a scrap for a small one hugging the bottom and making me wonder if it was more pike than zed? Just in time before the boat reached me I had in in the net. I must mention that when I was unhooking it in the net it managed to get some net mesh hooked over its dagger like front teeth. As I freed the mesh the zander snapped shut its jaws as they frequently do when out of the water and managed to clamp down on my finger. Blimey it was a strong bite and even drew blood, I was pretty lucky for it not to be any worse and I realised first hand what power they must exert on prey in order to injure and disable when they are on the hunt!
Mission accomplished now to get a few more.
I managed to get the bait rod out afterwards and hooked a nice roach straight away that managed to wriggle off the hook as I bulled it in a bit too firmly, looked about half a pound or so. I now had the roach feeding and caught three before the last throes of daylight all of them perfect dead bait size for small canal zander. That was the last of the action though except for a dropped take that didn't connect. Finally at a swim near by the car I was just having one or two last casts when the surface erupted with fleeing fish. They seemed to be being herded by something and I would guess zander were the culprits. There are not many pike in this canal for some reason but the stretch does hold some big perch up to 3lb plus, I doubt they were responsible however, as it was fully dark now and I'm not sure they would hunt fish in this way. From my own observations over the years when perch attack the prey fish usually seem scatter in all directions. However these fish were all leaping forwards like a shoal of pilchards or flying fish obviously being chased by a pack of predators. That would be the zander in this case I would guess. It was amazing to see and the first time I have witnessed anything like it. The attacks came and went for a few minutes with the zander chasing the shoal up and down the section over a short distance of about 30 metres (32yrds). I quickly fetched my lure rod from the car as it was pointless deadbaiting when the fish wanted a moving bait. Despite several casts into the throng I didn't get any takes on the small cranks or kopytos that I tried.
|A night on the canal|