Friday 24 April 2009

Down the cut again !!

This week I fished the Coventry Canal again to try and catch some more Zander.

I used the same float set up as last week, except I replaced the hook lengths for wire trace and used size 8 & 10 trebles with either Roach or Herring chunks as bait. I had walked a little further down the canal this time near to where some boats were permanently moored. After a few casts to get the floats working correctly, I found I was experiencing a bit of drift on the right hand rod. I managed to correct this by altering the depth however.

I leapfrogged the rods a couple of times and then missed a take on the left hand rod, I felt the fish on for a second and even saw a greeny yellow flank flash in the water as I took up the slack to set the hook. On feeling me tighten up the fish must have ejected the section of Roach I had on, the hook not finding it's target ! This may be because of the hard mouth that Zander have, the fish seemed like a smallish zander to me ( but you can't be sure).

A dog walker stopped to chat for a while. He told me that the marina was worth a go for Zander and pike, and that there were some big fish down there including a lot of carp. He also said that the nearby pool behind the canal had been taken over by the national trust or the local council and that it would be a syndicate type set up with only 30 members from now on. This is a shame if it's closed off to local anglers as I was planning another go on that pool after the Tench this year.

Later as I was fishing in front of the entrance track to the pool, I used the first piece of herring and cast it out to a nice overhanging bush, the float soon showed signs of a take but when I wound down to strike the fish had already dropped the bait. The next action came later on when I was chatting to a Polish guy who was working a spinner up and down the canal. We had been chatting for a while about local fishing spots when my float started moving off to the left, we both saw it move and I picked up the rod and wound into the fish. The fish was hooked, it stayed deep but came straight across the canal to me with no problems. The Polish guy suggested Zander ? but as it surfaced we both saw a Jack loom out of the murky water. Polish guy quickly picked up the net and I steered the pike in.

At 6lb 3oz it's my biggest Pike (pathetic I know!) caught on methods intended for predators at least. Poor in terms of Pike size maybe, but not bad considering I haven't even started targeting them yet, not since I was a youngster freelining minnows in the weir at Blythe Mill anyway. The fish looked like it had been recently attacked and I initially thought a cormorant could be responsible, but looking at the photo now I wonder if it could be wounds from spawning injuries?

As we were about to photograph the fish a family came along and stopped to watch so the young lad with them could see his first pike. After it was returned we all talked for a bit and the Father revealed that he had only recently started targeting predators too using large lures. On his first session on this canal he caught a 26lb Pike. He showed me the photo on his camera and it looked more like a crocodile across his knee ! After they had all left I tried to carry on fishing but the light was now almost completely gone meaning I could no longer see my floats well enough. I wound in the rods and headed home.

Thursday 16 April 2009

Zander Success

Thursday 16th April
This week I headed for the Coventry Canal to fish for Zander, my session starting at about 5:30 pm. After researching all I could on the subject, and creating the right rigs for the task, I was rewarded for my hard work and effort in landing my first Zander at 3lb 7oz.
Funnily enough it was on the same stretch of canal that I'd previously tried a half hearted attempt at fishing for them last winter, using jigged rubber shads lures and spinners but that failed dismally. After this successfull capture I now have a new species to my list and another PB to beat !

Terminal tackle was a simple float set up with a roach head, lip hooked on a size 4 ESP Raptor hook to about 12" of 12lb hooklength laid on bottom on the far shelf.
This was connected by a small swivel to 12lb mainline and a pellet waggler float held in place with float stops and beads. I used a sliding 4 gram olivette as weight.

At the start of the session I tried to catch some live baits on my margin pole, but only managed one solitary perch of about 1/2 lb, a nice fat solid fish he was though which gave me some encouragement at least.

The first Zander rod was cast to the far shelf near a large overhanging tree with a section of roach as bait laid well on the bottom.

Eventually, I had to give up on the livebait fishing so I could concentrate on the task at hand. I packed the pole away & cast out the other Zander rod, set up identically to the first one. After a little period of inactivity I decided that I should start the " leapfrogging " method, whereby you move the rods one over the other casting along the canal back toward the bridge where my Car was parked.

At a snag 20 feet further along I had already cast one rod to the left of a part sunken tangle of branches and went to fetch my other rod, I cast this one in 15 feet further along the canal, near to another bush that overhung the water. While I was settling the float of the second rod, I glanced back to check the other but couldn't see it and after several double takes, my eyes scanning the water, the float was still gone. By this point I had picked up the rod in my hand and was winding down to feel for a fish. I met with a firm resistance and so struck to set the hook. I now started winding the reel and quickly realised I was definatly connected to a fish!

My initial though was a Jack Pike, and I think I saw a flash of greeny yellow under the surface which re-affirmed this to me. With the fish now practically under the rod tip, I eased it to the surface changing my mind for a second as it now looked like a massive Perch. I saw a large spikey dorsal fin and cavernous mouth erupting through the surface layers towards me.

Then the fish turned onto its side showing me its flank and full length, and I now knew I was into my first ever Zander.
Fantastic ! there was a just little hairy moment when the fish tried to bury itself into the steel piling at the canal's edge but I quickly slipped the net under her and she was mine. I even said "Get in" ! out loud, well there was no one about to hear me after all.

After weighing and taking the photo's, she was returned safely to her watery home and I was as pleased as punch to have caught my first Zed by design. I fished on until darkness set in, moving pegs a couple more times leapfrog fashion, but had no more takes - not that I was too bothered, another fantastic session from what's been a great 12 months fishing for me so far. I can't wait to get another Zander under my belt now, hopefully a bigger one. It's not a massive PB target to beat I know, but we will see what events unfold in the coming weeks. As I will soon be onto my Bream and Tench campaign again before venturing back out to the rivers come the middle of June. The year is already flying by quickly !

Morning Start on Coventry Canal Grendon

Monday 13th April
Fished the Coventry Canal at Grendon today on an early morning session, this time starting at 7:00am. I was treating this session as a bit of a reccy to test out fishing for Zander on a float set up. I had been advised to use a float by the kid in Sheltons tackle shop in Tamworth.
He said he's had Zander out to 13lb from this canal using this method, he also warned that the carp quite like roach chunks too !

After researching the float rig on the web and specifically on You Tube, I came up with a suitable version and tried it out using the two rods "leapfrogging" method.

This is simply leapfrogging one rod over the other each time you recast, working your way along the canal. It's a great way of testing all likely looking swims in an attempt to locate fish.

Trent and Mersey Zander session

Thursday 9th April
Before I started fishing, I checked out the back of Branston Water Park to see what the pegs are like. As the daylight photos here show, there are some tasty looking swims to go at for Perch and Zander.

Despite these great looking swims, I still opted to fish the same stretch as last week up from Tilhill bridge, because I wasn't sure if they locked the gates at Branston water park at night or not? As it turns out my Burton Mutual key will work there so I could have stayed ! still, there's a session for another day.

I fished for Perch again, but also had two rods set up for Zander after talking to a chap on my last session here. I had a good run on the perch feeder set up with a large lob worm on the hook, but somehow fluffed it.

Sunday 5 April 2009

Trent & Mersey Canal with Jed the wino

Friday 3rd April 2009
I decided to fish the Trent & Mersey Canal near Branston water Park on a tip off about some large perch. After a bit of research I found the peg that had been described to me and decided to set up the feeder rod first so it could fish for itself while I set the pole up. Soon after the feeder was cast to a small bush on the other side sporting a monster lobworm on a size 6 hook with loiads of juicy lob pieces and red maggots in the feeder. I even used a back lead to stop the many passing barges from causing me too many problems.

I set up the pole with a light bristle float to 2lb main and 1.2lb bottom on an 18 barbless hook. I had been feeding maggots steadily since arriving and so placed the float to this position. It was probably nearly two hours before I finally caught something, but as it was a cracking Dace (for me) of about 4 or 5 oz at a guess, & it was worth the wait.

Not long after the Dace, a chap stopped by to talk (Jed the wino), who turned out to be the local drunk! just my luck as I couldn't get rid of him and he stayed till I packed up.

While he was standing there talking shit at me though, I did manage to catch a clonking fat Chub of about 3.5lb and a nice Roach of about 1/2 a pound
That ended the sport for the evening and there had been no positive takes on the feeder rod. However on the walk back to the car I stopped to talk to another angler who turned out to be Zander fishing using two rods on alarms and deadbaiting a roach head and a headless smelt.

'Lip hooked fatty '

He was quite informative and said that this was his first foray on the T&M canal too, but he had caught a nice Perch of 1lb 8oz earlier on quivertipped lob to a light link legder, fished tight to the far bank under a tree. He said that the Zander reportedly go to about 6 or 7 lb in here and he had seen some pics of one or two fish. He also said the the sea baits do work especially for the smaller schoolie fish ! 

So I will have to give the Zander a try soon , maybe on my next session. I wished him luck and carried on back to the car.

Water temp was around 12.5 deg C