Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Canal Zander Deadbait Rig - How to Catch Them

This is the rig I use to catch canal Zander on deadbaits on canals around the Midlands, perfected over quite a few sessions now with various trials and tribulations. The float is fished over depth by adjusting the grippa stop and sits flat or at an angle on the surface.


It's a ridiculously sensitive set-up where bites are easy registered. Float around 10g, Coffin Lead 15g, fluro hooklink 12lb, and at the business end I use a fine wire Sakuma Manta sea hook size 1 with barb crushed. If there is Pike in the area, (there isn't where I fish) then wise to swap the flurocarbon to wire.

Nothing new I know, as I've posted about it before, but it's good to share pictorially...


Bait either a small whole roach, lamprey section and the like...

The rig in action....

Warwickshire Avon – Snags, Snappers and Shysters

I hadn’t fished this weirpool for ages, but with my usual Zander spots seemingly out of sorts and not playing ball, maybe a change of scenery was in order. It’s been quite productive in the past with predators, where live baits under a float usually provoke a reaction within minutes. I’d caught decent Perch here, even decent Chub on the lure.

Then again it’s a weirpool, what fish doesn’t like one….’If Carlsberg did’ and all that

In the summer, the visual effect, far from being a positive gush of water, bears greater resemblance to an ornamental waterfall. The water glides smoothly over the tops of the weir gates and falls gently on the weir apron, which is a wide concrete windowsill laid on the bed of the river immediately below the weir outfall. It is designed to protect the river bed from the gouging action of the falling water, which strikes the flat iron surface, collects and teems for a moment, and then glides swiftly and smoothly forward straight down the centre of the weirpool, a resolute but comparatively gentle mass of water equal in width to the weir from whence it came. 


The water mass, flowing and fluctuating through flood and drought, is the tool that carves and gouges away the river bank immediately below the weir so that a basin is formed – the weirpool. During summer, the weir outfall floes straight down the middle of the weirpool and drags the mass of water found as the sides around in a circling eddy, like a man revolving a park roundabout by pulling at its rim.

From a maggot danglers point of view the movement, speed and the direction of the ever shifting volumes of weirpool water have to be closely analysed in order to make even an intelligent guess at the location and identification of the various species of fish. The movements of Barbel for instance, are reasonably predictable during warm weather when the water is low. They revel in fast water so find the fastest water and that’s where they will likely to be. The area abundantly charged with swirling mass of foam and oxygenated water.

I’d tried here for Barbel but rolling meat or fishing static I remembered just how snaggy the bottom was, I’d love to drain it and see exactly what’s been lost on there. So why I didn’t factor my issues in last time here because after straightening a hook, losing a whole rig, losing a deadbait on the cast, it was a bit of a disastrous session. 


More of that in a bit….

Prior to fishing the weir, that didn’t go well either, but then down here it is out of sorts. In the past I’ve caught and approached migrant workers who frequent this stretch who think nothing of hauling Pike up the bank, bosh it over the head, in to a bin bag, over their shoulder and back to their accommodation. Pike are not exactly had to catch now are they, luckily the club got wind of what was going on and plans were put in place and workers let go to try and educate those that want to fish, the ways and means to do so. The problem now though is the Otter and the Cormorant that are making the fish watch their backs and have seemingly moved them on.

I could fish a couple of three swims in the winter with cheesepaste and could almost guarantee a bite would be forthcoming with 10 minutes, it was that predictable. Ok maybe easy fishing but when the banks are deserted because of the conditions it they provided a lovely bend in the rod. So after three swims fished without even a nibble I settled in to the weir till dusk. I was after a Zander you see and there is no reason they wouldn’t reside here, they are throughout the Avon now and I love catching them. 


So when the left hand rod starts to go and the rod top is nodding with its nitelight glowing I fully expected a Zander to grace the net. They start moving properly come sundown to make full use of their unbelievable eyesight in low light or turbid conditions.

This was no Zander though, it was a small Pike that maybe would have scraped 5lb. The chewed up deadbait retrieved the bait back out for 20 minutes, both rods motionless, time to call it a day.

Saturday, Sunday and Monday, I need a rest….

Then again it was stupidly mild with the water temp nearly 7 degrees, maybe a quick Barbel session Wednesday if I get the chance. They should be used to it by now, and ready to take a layer off.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Premonitions and Pop-Ups

I don’t do spur of the moment, I’m sure it’s my engineering brain at work. Holidays planned methodically, weeks shopping and meals planned out for that Saturday morning delivery, food chosen even before I’ve been handed the menu, that sort of thing. You only have to look at my blog to know that’s how I plan my fishing trips too, in-fact my blog is often three session ahead in draft form, not the other way round and I’m on catch-up.



I’d always had a few Zander session planned before the season end and this was the first of those, even down to baits chosen, and areas to target.

However a spanner was put in the works…. 

I read an interesting article on Zander the other day you see ( Zander and how to Catch Them - Barrie Rickards ) about using Smelt, which for targeting Zeds, was one of his favoured baits, even over coarse fish such as Roach which I exclusively use and have had some good results from. 

You see apparently one feature of them , is that when still fully frozen they float, so they can be fished pop-up style’e for half an hour or so before the bait would eventually sink to the bed where it will remain as a bottom bait. Now after sorting through the bait freezer the other day I came upon some smelt I forgot I had. 

Not only that but after waking up early and trying to get back to sleep, I’d had a half awake, half asleep dream where some of the above was part of it, and guess what, it ended with a big Zander in the net. The so naturally once fully compos mentis after a strong cup of Java Lava that dictated a future session and a plan was hatched. Maybe it was a sign or premonition, I wonder….

As someone susceptible to vivid dreams and also because I’m an identical twin which I’m sure adds to the subconscious going on in my brain, it was something I could relate to. Premonitions are a feeling that something is going to happen - it is foretelling the future. Most people have experienced premonitions to one degree or another. The phone rings and you "know" who it is calling, even though the call was unexpected. Sometimes the premonition isn't as specific, but just as strong or stronger. Perhaps a great, unexplained feeling of sadness has been bothering you all day. It is only later that you learn that a close relative has died.



There are many such instances that we experience now and then, and sometimes (skeptics would say always) they can be attributed to mere coincidence. Others say there's no such thing as coincidence, but that's another topic. 

There are times, however, when a premonition is so strong that the one experiencing it has little doubt that it is going to happen. These powerful premonitions are much rarer but happen often enough that some paranormal researchers believe they are real.

Some people seem to be more sensitive to these types of feelings and may be called "sensitives" or "psychics."

These feelings are also most powerful among close relatives (I’m an identical twin), where the psychic bond seems to be strongest. And if this talk of "psychic bonds" irks you as sounding like New Age gobbledygook, consider that even some mainstream scientists, quantum physicists and psychiatrists alike, understand more and more that all human consciousness is connected.

Premonitions can be as subtle as a gnawing feeling or can be so overwhelming that they jolt you out of your everyday routine and prevent you from thinking of little else. They can be vague, nothing more than a feeling, or they can be so vivid that some experiencers say it is like watching a film. Premonitions can foretell something that happens a minute later... or weeks or even many months later. They can come while you're doing the dishes or they can come in dreams.

So naturally once fully compos mentis after a strong cup of Java Lava that dictated a future session and a plan was hatched, need to get it out of my mind, otherwise I’d be looking at more sleepless nights.


I’ve tried a few times over the past couple of months for Zander, and in my usual ‘reasonably’ productive areas too with little or no success. In-fact thinking about it, the last decent fish I had (7lb 6oz) came to a lure I think, when the lily pads were still around. So for this session I decided to fish a two part session to give me more of a chance of tempting one.

The first part, up at the deep bit I found that I’d lost a good fish and banked a few when a shoal moved in, and the second, in shallower water where it’s more oxygenated where , again I’d caught fish before. The conditions are certainly not favourable for Zander as they would likely still be shivering, tucked away with their winter coats, but hey, put a bait in front of its nose. Hopefully it would be an offer they couldn’t refuse.

With the river season coming to an end, got to keep the motion going even though a blank is most likely to be on the cards. Like many a fish, Zander don’t like winter, they are far easy to catch in the autumn for example.

“Mick, enough of the preamble did you catch anything ?” I hear you cry….


Baits out in the deep bit at dawn, twiddle ones thumbs, watch the nesting cormorants nothing doing.2 hours pass without as much as a bleep, baits changed a couple of three times, Roach on one rod. Time to move down I think. Again baits out, feeling a little bored. Decided to get the cheesepaste out on the Chevin set-up I had. Luckily with minutes the tip is being pulled round and a small Chub takes the bait.

Deadbaits again, are not doing it as all. I gave it an hour and a bit, so again, time to move down. Weirdly this was a place I least expected to get one as a match that took place here over the weekend can out them off. But the left hand rod with a smelt on goes and a fish is on. I thought it was a decent Zander at first the way it was plodding about, but no a Pike, surfaced. Ok not the fish I was after but welcome all the same.



10lb 3oz, so a double but I'd have rather it been a Zander. Oh well. It had a distinctive mouth affliction so easy recognisable if I catch it again. With the season fast coming to an end and hopefully the water starting to warm up a little. Eels and Carp will be on the agenda before the close. With maybe a brook trip and a few Chub trips in-between.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Small Brook Fishing Pt.3 – Small Tips and Big Nips

The last trip down this little Warwickshire Brook, I managed to catch 3 or 4 bullheads on a size 12 Quru QM1 hook which I favour because of ease of unhooking small fish. The bullhead I didn’t even realise it was on till I reeled in, however the subsequent fish I caught, I could notice a tiny tremble on the quiver. After the session finished I discovered my usual 8ft TFG rod was fitted with a 2oz tip, not the 1oz’er I thought I had for the session.



Overgunned to detect bites indeed, and upon sorting through the tackle in the garage the only remaining tip for the rod was a 3oz jobbie. Sadly the finer tip found its way to the bottom of a load of banksticks and bitealarms and was in two pieces.

Maybe a wand type rod would be what I needed to add to my ever growing collection. The Shakespeare Mach 2, Sigma and Agility wands looked ideal but I was after a 9ft rod or shorter and the availability of these seemed to be few and far between. So out of the blue after discussing wand rods with a seat box frequenter he just so had a similar wand for sale, albeit a Browning King F1 8ft wand that came with 0.5oz, 1oz, 1.5oz tips.

A pony changed hands, another rod added to the collection and the Wife none the wiser to the breeding carbon that has been consuming the space in the garage. With the brook hopefully up a nadger because of the recent rain, could I catch a bullhead or even a stone loach by design. The 0.5oz tip fitted, the rig scaled down from the last session. The blank is incredibly thin, the bend all the way down to the butt, a wobble like not other rod in my armory.


A full on maggot attack and hopefully the nip of the bullhead this time would register on the now much finer tip.The bullhead or the millers thumb, is a name by which it has been known popularly for at least 6 centuries.

The curious name apparently arose in days when every village had its miller, and has little point now that milling lacks the personal touch. “The miller’s ear” “is constantly directed to the note made by the running-stone in its circular course over the bedstone, the exact parallelism of their two surfaces, indicated by a particular sound, being a matter of the first con-sequence, and his hand is constantly placed under the meal-spot, to ascertain by actual contact the character and qualities of the meal produced.

The thumb by a particular movement spreads the sample over the fingers. By this incessant action of the miller’s thumb, a peculiarity in its form is produced which is to resemble exactly the shape of the head constantly found in mill-streams, and has obtained for it in the name of Miller’s Thumb”

The miller’s thumb is placed in an order which includes gurnards and sticklebacks; and its family (the Cottidae) there are fish with names like father lasher and long-spinned sea scorpion. The miller’s thumb is no exception to a general rule of spikiness, and if it grew to 3ft. instead of 3inches it would be a really dangerous creature.

The head is obviously the most dominant part of the millers’s thumb, hence the alternative name, bullhead. This is large and flattened, and the widest part of the fish is across the head behind the eyes. The eyes are on the top of the head and close together. The lower jaw projects beyond the upper. Behind the head the scaleless rounded body tapers quickly away to a narrow waist at the junction with the tail fin.


3 inch the humdrum, 3 to 4 inch not uncommon and anything over 4 inches exceptional.

Obviously the main reason why I’m fishing here is for the Dace potential showed promising signs the first time here, sadly not the second, where it was much tougher. These wand rods are for use in commercials though for winter F1’s and Silvers, so even if a trout or such like turned up, then the rod would have as much backbone as required.

Hey maybe there are some stone loaches here too, only one way to find out….



Need to drown those maggots….

With the brook up because of the recent rain I decided to set ones stall out in swim. I'd only 2.5 hours to fish, so roving around probably wasn't the best idea especially when this swim has lots of fish holding features and also it offers a nice transitional route if fish fancy a change of scenery.

Now my deadbaits were soft when I checked them in the bait freezer the other day and stupidly put it up to max so when I got the maggots from the fridge they had frozen solid. So a load of dead lifeless maggots wasn't ideal but eventually I started to get bites. What a lovely like rod, tiny bites registering on the tip nicely and the rod nice to hold.



I was an odd session to be honest, I was hoping fishing the same swim I had the bullheads from I'd manage one again but sadly there were not forthcoming. I had a few roach and dace up to 5.5oz and 23cm's but no trout were showing and bites were hard to come by.

Next time I think I will try white or bronze maggots to see if I could get more bites than red. I'm sure it can vary day by day so much here that it's just a matter of hitting that right time, because compared to the first trip here I found it very tough indeed.
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