I ventured out to the Trent & Mersey Canal to try and locate some of it's Zander. The result was inconclusive as I failed to find any fish in the stretch I tried, although there are Zander in the canal. There was quite alot of slimy weed around on the bottom, so I wonder if it put them off this area as it looked perfect otherwise with lots of overhanging vegetation. Either that or they just were not interested in my offerings ?
Lots of cover but where are the Zander?
I packed up early and headed back to the Coventry Canal instead to get my Zander fix for the week.
I landed two fish in a short 2 hour spell, the first an emaciated fish that I reckon would have been a good four or five pounds had it not had such an empty concaved belly. Not sure what was wrong with it but I got the feeling it was on its last legs, it seemed very listless, maybe just an old fish? As it was, it only weighed 2lb 8oz being in such a sorry state.
Only 2lb 8oz but a long fish
The second fish was a nice 3 pounder that fought well taking a perch head on a single hook rig. In between fish I had a few dropped takes that I put down to hook up issues. I'm not sure if it was the new traces I'd tied over the weekend or the fact I was using single hooks but I must have dropped four or five runs, one small fish dropping off at the net. Last week I only had one fish spit the bait, but to get four or five drop off is a bit worrying.
Fishing from 9 pm the bites dried up at about 11 pm, this was probably the end of the evenings feeding spell as I tried moving the baits around to pick up the shoal again but couldn't induce any further action.
After Fridays successful session, I couldn't wait to get back out to try for Zander again. This time I chose to fish a different Canal to see what it would throw up.
The Fazeley Canal is very familiar to me as it's the first canal I ever fished as a teenager back in the early 90's. I've had many enjoyable sessions here over the years but until today I'd never tried it for Zander or even knew if they were in this section.
The tactics would be the same as used on Friday and so I eagerly headed down the canal to a likely spot to set up but on the way down the tow path I noticed a stretch of overhanging bushes on the far side that just screamed Zeds. It was still fairly light but the shade of the branches created a nice length of dark water. If there were Zander about surely there would be some under these bushes. I decided to find out before going to my intended area near to the locks as the light values here would certainly be lower.
I set up the rods, the left rod with a single hook and a Roach tail, the right rod with two single hooks and a whole Roach. Both rods were cast to gaps at each end of the bushes. It only took about 10 - 15 mins before the first signs of action. This came from the left rod, the bobbin sailed up and a nice thump thump transmitted up the rod as I bent into the fish. The fish fought well and as it slipped over the net cord I thought "this could even be a new PB". On the scales it was just 3oz short but at 3.5 lb still the second biggest I've caught to date. This was a good sign, I might be onto a better stamp of fish here I hoped. The next fish came from the right rod and was near the 2lb mark I guess.
Fish two (not weighed)
After the second fish the bites dried up so I moved further down to the next set of bushes on the far bank. This is a spot I know very well as it used to be my favorite peg for Bream and Roach, I also had my Perch PB from here back in 2004. I hoped the area would be kind to me still, sure enough a few minutes later and the right rod was away again. I felt the fish on but it spat the bait out.
By the look of the teeth puncture marks on the roach it seemed like it had been taken side on as opposed to head or tail first. I re-adjusted the hooks in the bait and recast it to the same position again. The bobbin was soon gliding up to the rod blank again, this time the fish was well hooked and came in on the surface. As I got it towards the net it went berserk, luckily I had it safely in the folds of the net before it could shed the hooks. Whether this was the one I'd just lost I don't know but there were no more takes from that spot.
3 lb 1oz
The left rod failed to produce any takes in this area, with the final fish coming from the right rod again after I'd moved it down to a gap in the centre of the bushes. The bobbin was soon on the rise again and fish no 4 was netted to end the session on, at 2lb on the nose.
The bobbins worked perfectly again and for me they are far more efficient in indicating takes than a float set up does, I seem to get more dropped takes with a float rig although it is a very useful way of gaging depths. Because the cast is only a short swing across I was able to scale the weight down further by using a sliding link ledger with just two SSG's giving even less resistance. The only problem I had with such a light rig was tightening up the line to set the bobbin as I worried about shifting the bait out of position. This was only a minor issue though, and was easily overcome by feathering line on the cast to straighten it out as it settled. All the takes were confidant ones and apart from that one lost fish, the rest were all hooked nicely in the scissors or in the front of the mouth.
On the way back to the car the tow path was dotted with Toads every few yards, obviously attracted by the hoards of slugs. I had to be careful not to step on them as I went.
Another successful session and I'll be back to see if the average stamp of fish is better than my results from the Cov Canal. So far these Fazeley fish seem to average about 1lb or so above what I usually catch. My target is for a 5lb fish, I know I could go further a field and more or less guarantee myself one first fish, but it would be nice to achieve it on my doorstep if I can.
Saying that if my results don't increase over the next few visits no doubt I'll soon give in and find myself on the G.U. canal or one of the well known midlands rivers sometime over the Autumn, for now I'm happy fishing short 2 - 3 hour sessions locally and just enjoying the thrill of catching Zander small or otherwise.
The Canal was the venue, Zander the target and the rods were set up and ready prior to leaving the house. Once I'd cooked tea for the kids and a pass was granted from the better half, I was finally able to set off.
Crude but effective
I figured there would be enough daylight left to get the rods positioned before it was fully dark, although my first swim choice was a little more challenging than I'd hoped. I wasn't happy with the way the rods were positioned lying on flattened reeds and my new home made bobbins wouldn't hang correctly.
After about 20 mins and no takes, I decided enough was enough so moved back up the canal to the next area I had in mind where the rods could be laid on open tow path. Here there were some reeds and overhanging bushes on the far bank. I leapfrogged the rods along the first section of reeds until I had a rod positioned under a small tree with a roach head on one single hook.
It's hanging off a rod - honest !
It was the rod left in front of the reeds that was the first to see some action. As is usually the case, I was looking at the wrong rod when the take happened and only just looked over in time to see the bobbin gliding up to hit the rod blank. I lifted it quickly and felt a resistance on the end, the fish moving quickly across the canal towards me. Just as I was making a grab for the net handle the fish spat the bait out and was gone, Bugger ! The bobbin method worked very well I was pleased to see.
I quickly replaced the whole roach, this one was on two single hooks and cast it back to the same position. I don't think it was too long before it was away again. This time if felt quite a solid fish and I hoped my Zander PB would finally be beaten. I quickly realised that if this was a Zander it would be a very good one. As it surfaced my heart was in my mouth but as it glided over the net cord realisation struck. I hadn't broken my Zander PB but I'd just thrashed my Pike one.
A new PB
While the Pike was waiting in the net I noticed the bobbin on the other rod rattling against the blank, I quickly reeled in the first of the nights Zander. I took a quick snap for the blog before it was returned so the Pike could be dealt with.
With the help from some nearby anglers who had heard the commotion I must have made landing the Pike, she was unhooked and weighed. I was a bit nervous about removing the hooks as I've only ever dealt with small jacks before and the end hook was quite far down. One of the lads held her by the gill cover to open her mouth so I could get in with some long forceps to remove my pair of single size 2 hooks. All went well and she was eased into the sling going exactly 11lb on the scales. After weighing she was quickly photographed and returned, swimming off nicely with a strong powerfull flick of her tail (thanks for the help lads).
With the adrenalin still running high, I carried on fishing the same spots to see if there would be any more action. Sure enough no sooner had the rod been cast back out to the reed swim, that it was away again with another small Zedlet of about a pound. The rod positioned under the small tree was quiet for the rest of the session, it was the rod in front of the reeds that produced the bulk of the action adding one final Zander, the best of the bunch at about 2 lb or so.
I decided to pack up soon after as I'd had some good sport and had already stayed longer than I'd planned. I had another good chat with the other two anglers, before leaving them to thier Bream fishing. I headed home pretty chuffed with the way things had gone. My bobbins had worked perfectly (credit to Roger Ryton Carp) although I adapted his idea a bit to use some chemical lights instead and clipped them to the mainline with simple swivel clips.
A recent trip to the Lincolnshire coast with the family during late August, so inevitably I packed suitable tackle for some sea fishing. This consisted of an old Shakespeare beachcaster and large fixed spool reel loaded with 20lb mono. Terminal tackle consisted of bits and bobs I'd collected over the years, including a whole pulley rig and weight I'd found while jumping over waves with my daughter in Cornwall earlier this summer.
I researched the fishing in the area and found that, commercial carp puddles aside, the best option would be to try for the smoothhounds that swim these waters at this time of year. As soon as I got chance I visited the local tackle shop and bought some more rigs, wired gripper leads, bait elastic and some frozen soft crabs for the hook, not ideal maybe but with little time free for hunting out my own peelers, it was bait at least (more on bait later).
I headed for Chapel Point first as it was one of the recommended marks in some of the articles I'd read about on this stretch of coast.
I fished for about two hours up to high tide but the session ended with nothing to report, still it gave me a feel of how to deal with the roll of the waves and the casting distances though.
An old chap down on holiday from Scunthorpe stopped for a chat while walking his dog along the beach, as a seasoned Smoothhound angler himself he gave me a few good tips, one of them being about bait. He recommended Morrisons as the best place to go for their fresh Mackerel, squid and even langoustines if you can get them, good peelers are still a prime bait but not absolutely necessary, noting that these are all good baits for Smoothies if they are on the feed. ( if only I'd known this a day or so earlier !)
Next day and I still hadn't been able to get to Morrisons. I tried another area nearby at Huttoft using the soft crab again, the old boy told me of a sweeping channel to try at the end of the car park, so I headed there.
I was at least confident of being in a good area, my bait cast about 50 yards out as suggested but after another couple of hours blanking at the top of the tide I left empty handed again. I suppose I felt a bit like being in the banker swim when Barbel fishing and still drawing a blank, you know the rod could hoop over any minute so the anticipation level is kept up. Fishing being the natural time warp that it is, before you know it it's time to pack up again.
I wasn't alone in my lack of sport though, I met another angler in the car park who told me that there had been no smoothies caught for a few days now, as they must have moved out to deeper water while the weather had been a bit too rough for them inshore recently. Despite the blank I enjoyed my first real attempt at beachcasting and shall be giving it another go when I can get back here, especially as I can have the use of the in laws caravan.