Friday, 29 January 2010

Mission Improbable

At this time of year my thoughts begin to turn towards zander. Actually that's not strictly true, usually it's not until about March, but a couple of weeks ago I received an email from Snapper. He is going to be manning the Ocean Kayaks stand at the NEC boat show in February and wondered if Ben and I could find him some fishing in the evenings, he's particularly keen to try for barbel and zander. This sent me into a state of panic, we can't let him down after the fantastic cod fishing he put us onto in October but my success with zander could best be described as inconsistent. Fortunately Ben has assumed the mantle of barbel expert or I really would be in the poo.
In the past all of my zander have fallen to lures and I have always felt they've been the result of good luck rather than angling prowess. I have spent hours pounding the towpaths of the Grand Union and been lucky if I've caught one fish during a session. I've also had a couple of fish from the Avon when fishing from the bank but have yet to catch one from the kayak.
Clearly a new approach is needed and to this end I've been feverishly researching articles concerning zander and come to the conclusion that deadbaiting is the way forward on this occasion. I remain convinced that lures will be a more efficient method once the areas where the fish hole up have been located, but it will undoubtedly be pitch black when we take Snapper, and the zeds will probably be actively out hunting.
So, with this in mind I've gone back to basics in the hope of finding a few fish. The first attempt was Sunday night, by the time I'd dropped the kids back home it was 8pm so I headed to a nearby stretch of the Grand Union where I'd had success before. The rig used was a headless roach on a sliding float ledger as this would give good bite indication with a minimum of resistance. Research had told me that I needed to use plenty of lead so that the weight wouldn't move if I got a bite, which could result in a spooked fish. As it turned out I never got to put this theory to the test. I fished for about two hours without a touch before packing in and going home.
Tuesday night was to be the next attempt but just as I was making up my flask of coffee Ben phoned, by the time we'd stopped chatting it was getting on for 9pm. I looked out of the window at the frost covered car and thought, NAH.
Wednesday evening came and I wasn't going to be deterred this time. It was a lovely mild moonlit night and I was feeling positive. This time I made my way to the canal at Bascote and gradually made my way along the bank, fishing each spot for 20 minutes or so. In hindsight I should have just left the bait in one place and waited for the 'vast marauding shoals of zander' (that's what the guy in the tackle shop said, so it must be true) to find it. After a couple of hours I decided to head back to the lock where I'd fished on Sunday as it had 'felt' much more fishy. The first hour here passed without incident and I thought I'd have a coffee and a smoke before moving up the swim a little, as I poured my drink I saw the float bob slightly so I ran to the rod and hovered expectantly......and nothing happened. Back to the coffee then, after another 15 minutes I was beginning to lose concentration from focusing on the float when it suddenly slid from view. I struck and there was a good weight on the line which resulted in my first bait caught zander of 4lb 12oz, result.
Apologies for the poor quality pic.
Canal zander
I hope to get a few more sessions in before Snappers arrival and I'm considering taking the kayak along so that I can survey a few stretches of canal with the sonar. Ideally I'm sure we'd rather fish the Avon but at least we now have a planB.

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