Saturday 23 August 2014

Zander time again

With a dip in the temperatures of late I've been gagging to get the bait rods out after some Zeds. The last session I tried on the canal resulted in just the one missed take. This week I arrived back at the canal again for an evening session but on walking to the intended spot I had that nagging feeling that it wasn't right again and I'd just be wasting my time.  I needed to confirm to myself that my bait fishing methods were still OK and wanted to have a reasonable chance of a nice zed in the net, (there's nothing worse than lack of confidence to hinder your enjoyment of fishing).  I made a snap decision and headed back to the car, setting off for the river instead. When I arrived 50mins later it was good to see the river was slightly coloured and at a nice summer level so I was in an optimistic mood. A couple of groups of other anglers were dotted along the bank but they were far enough away not to interfere with my intended spot.

With the daylight due to fail in about an hour or so I had to get my bait caught quickly, so set up the float rod and went about catching a few suitable candidates for the keepnet. This turned out to be a struggle at first, not because I couldn't catch anything, far from it, I just couldn't catch anything of suitable size. A string of small dace the size of my little finger were all that I could muster no matter how deep or shallow I set the float. Very frustrating, but eventually the right size roach and bleak started to make an appearance and I built up enough samples to begin with the main event. However, before I could begin another angler had set up in the next swim downstream,  I checked where he was casting first  and had a little chat with him before setting up the zander rods to make the first cast as twilight descended.  With one bait cast to the crease in the flow on my near bank I sent the other out across the river to a slack area near a patch of surface duck weed in case there were Zeds hiding away under there. It was soon fully dark and the isotopes on the end of my rods remained still aside from the odd pluck from the bats. It was nearly an hour later before the first take registered on the rod tip. A typical quivering staccato pluck that could easily be mistaken for a line bite had it not continued for enough moments to warrant my instincts to kick in. I struck into a fish that stayed low until it was under the rod tip then with violent head shaking the shape of a zander loomed out of the depths towards my waiting net. It managed to swerve the net on another dive for freedom, then on the second netting attempt disaster stuck when, during another head shake as it reach the net chord saw it throw the hook and slide inches wide of the net and away back down to the bottom. "Ahh well it was no more than a four" I told myself and to be fair I wasn't too worried at least they were feeding.

I had to wait another hour until around 11.00pm for the next bite and by this time I was on my own on the bank. I had the baits repositioned further downstream where the mainflow from the weir widened slightly figuring that the smell of the bait would  be better carried along, the odour of fresh blood oozing out of the deadbaits might draw more fish upstream to me. Whether this was the case or whether it was just that the fish were already around and were feeding sparrodically I don't really know but it seemed to work and I landed my first fish of the night. Only a small one of a couple pounds or so.

The bites became more consistent from then on and I had the next fish on the bank soon after on the other rod out in the flow mid river, again it was just a small fish.  There was another take soon after that never connected on the downstream rod meaning they were definitely on the feed tonight.   Evedently I should have cast into the main flow earlier in the evening rather than searching fruitlessly in the slack areas for so long.

Time was pressing on by now and I was starting to think about packing the gear away, but the urge to recast the rods at least once more was too strong. Sure enough it  paid off and within ten minutes I was holding the best fish of the night.  By the time I had sorted out the photo's and put it back it was now 12.37am and the wife had text  asking "you still fishing? ".  I took that as my cue to call it a day and packed up and started to make my way back home. If I had stayed on how many more would I have connected with before I finally succumbed to tiredness and fell asleep in my chair I wonder ?

6lb 5oz (if your interested)

It was interesting that all the fish came from either the edge of the flow or right in the middle of it. At first thought this seems at odds with what you would expect from a predator. You might think they hide away under cover in the slack areas waiting to ambush unsuspecting prey that passes by. And this might be the case during the daytime feeding period where they would be easily seen by their quarry but at night they appear to skulk around in the flow picking up the scent of any potential meal being carried along on the current.