Sunday, 26 March 2017

Closed Season Zander Quest PT46 – Gobbler’s Knob

During the 131st celebration of Groundhog Day fat and fury Punxsutawney Phil left his cosy burrow in Pennsylvania's Gobbler's Knob near Pittsburgh, saw his shadow, and broke the news that the locals are doomed to another six weeks of winter weather rather than treated to an early spring. Every Bill Murray fan knows the basics.

Legend has it that Punxsutawney Phil communicates his yearly forecast in the language "grondhogese" to the head of what's known as the Groundhog Club's Inner Circle, who just so happens to be fluent in the ancient, animal tongue. The Inner Circle members actually decide ahead of time.

What a load of balls....then again I’m all for keeping up traditions....

We also like to talk about the weather in the UK also don’t we. Thing is I’m always amazed those that are moaning about the cold weather we are having seem to have forgotten about the season we are in, we have just come out if winter after all.

But then the early 90’s film and namesake Groundhog Day maybe has some similarities to ones fishing you see. Murray plays Phil Connors, an arrogant Pittsburgh TV weatherman who, during an assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event finds himself caught in a time loop, repeating the same day again and again.

Maybe that’s where the similarity ends though, as after indulging in hedonism and committing suicide numerous times, he begins to re-examine his life and priorities.

I’m not ready to partake in those pastimes just yet, but this pursuit for a ‘Cut Double’ does seem to be very much Ground Hog Day.

You see it can feel very samey and monotonous if you will, especially when retracing ones steps to find the transient lunker when the only returns to grace the hook are the same sized schoolies.

It would be enough to break even the most pertinacious.

Luckily I’m very much pig-headed and nothing thus far has made me stray from this needle in a haystack challenge. Well I say that, looking at the recent Leamington Anglers newsletter where a ‘double’ figure Zander turned up at the canal stretch it’s surprise me how lean the fish looked as all the larger Zander I’ve caught have all been extremely rotund and clearly not shy round the Roach buffet.

It’s the transient nature of canal Zander I’m intrigued with as their river cousins don’t seem to be that way inclined from what I can see.

This early morning session is a new stretch a mile above the Laryngeal Prominence, so before treading a familiar path to start the self inflicted drudgery all over again I decided to see what was about, it certain looked a nice stretch looking at google maps and a few likely holding areas of big Zander.

Now usually I can tell what the session is going to be like by the colour of the water and with the sky clear and the sun coming up I knew it would tough....

The odd small knock on the lure, one schoolie type run on the deadbait it was hard going.

I bet if the boats started moving then I would suspect things my be different and there is plenty of shelter here for fish to hideout so maybe if it's clear when the light start to go they will start moving. What was odd though there was some undertow and the drilled bullets were struggling to keep station so even without boats moving the floats were difficult to keep station.

Maybe a running set-up is the way to go here....

I decided to move down the stretch to an area of cover and after an hour with the baits untouched it was back the starting point.

A foul hooked bream saved a blank but there you go, it's not as easy as you think these Zander.

I'm back to trying to work them out with a bang, but then thats why I love fishing for them.

Don't want it too easy, I could fish a carp filled lake if I wanted that....

Monday, 20 March 2017

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Warwickshire Avon – Big bait, little bait, cardboard box

My youngest Sam was sat stark bollock naked in his large but Sam modified Amazon box just happened to be watching Bob the Builder on his iPad and the ‘Big Fish Little Fish Song’ on YouTube, and it dawned on me having been part of the dance music culture back in my youth that this song mimicked, that I’m not sure he will ever be able to enjoy the sense of freedom I experienced, such is this society of social media.

An overwhelming laissez faire, if you will, and at that moment in time, not a care in the world.

Ok the drug culture helped somewhat but the fact now all we’d see are people with their phones out purposely recording just to see someone mess up. It would never happen back then, people were so out of it and immersed in to the music and repetitive beats that they didn’t care what they danced like, what they looked like, they just wanted to be themselves and have a good time. Do the same thing nowadays it would be uploaded instantly to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and the like and go viral in a few hours.

A lifetime of ridicule, career limited, don’t want any of that now do we....

Now talking of ridicule, no I'm not talking about those Barbel captures who are named and shamed on social media because of the suggested weights that are always questioned by the high and mighty, I’m talking as someone who likes to fish very large gobstopper baits for Barbel. You see this stretch of the Warwickshire Avon I have been fishing probably hasn’t seen anything like the 30mm diameter catfish fishmeal baits I’ve been baiting my hair with.

Here small baits and small hooks seem the way to go….

Let’s just say when roving around with rods raised they have raised a few eyebrows....

But for me fishing further downstream on another part of the Warwickshire Avon, out of frustration the Gluttonous Chub Poka-Yoke Rig was born….

I’ve used this method successfully in the past to not only try and avoid catching Chub but also to try and be size selective by banking the biggest fish out the swim if there is more than one in residence. The fish when they find it, mess around with it for a bit but here is the thing, put ones hands under ones backside, ignore the plucks and bangs and wait for the rod to be more or less pulled in with the ratchet going ten to the dozen.

It’s a size of bait a big fish cannot refuse….

For someone who likes a good drink, it’s that food that will quell the hunger pangs.

So for these 3 short sessions nearing the end of the 2016/2017 river season I’d taken a wander down to the Avon where I know where there are some bigger fish hanging around in the quieter areas that exist here and also back to the familiar where I'd managed to bank a few Barbel, recently the best a near double. The plan was to fish a big bait on the downstream rod and the upstream rod a small boilie with a paste wrap with a PVA bag of freebies.

The problem with big pieces of meat I've found is that the method isn't foolproof as the most determined of Barbel or Chub will end up stripping it, the big pellet is a tougher nut to crack so to speak, but Barbel still love meat and it's such an effective bait, it's hard to look past it and the fact of the matter is I’ve never caught that many Chub down here and the coloured water they would be less likely to feed anyway so I'd swap between the two from time to time.

I don't want to give up my big fish selective set-up just yet....

If there was a lunker here I was hoping there was method in my madness and two of the sessions headed in to dusk in that the wrap over would happen and I’d have an end of season Barbel. It has been a frustrating season on the most part on these new to me club waters. There has been the odd high point though, with 2 further PB's so not all was lost.

I’m thinking come the new season I might change tactics depending on how these sessions went and try the smaller bait method.

In fact case in point, last week Martin Roberts banked a cracking 13 lber with the small bait set-up that has proved successful for him for some time now. I suppose it’s all about confidence, why change a method if it keeps on producing. The only problem I could see I likened to the canal Zander challenge, I might need to get through the schoolies before a decent first turned up, I don’t want any old Barbel to be honest, they just haven’t caught my attention like they have many.

Could I fish for them ALL the time, errrr no chance….

Next season I can night fish so that is going to put a different outlook and approach on my fishing altogether and trotting will certainly feature a lot more.

So anyway....

Session 1. 4.30pm - 6.45pm
No fish banked but Chub were particularly active in the swim and the half an hour up to dusk I had to change the meat bait twice as they stripped the big baits from the hair. A change to the large catfish pellet resulted in some outrageous bites but no fish were hooked. The small boilie bait with paste remained largely untouched throughout the session. There must have been a fair few fish in the swim too as the line was brushed quite a few times.

Session 2. 6.00am- 11.00am
Chub and Barbel were suspicious in their absence, a match the day before on the whole stretch might have put them off, who knows. A pike took a boilie bait to top another mediocre session off.

Session 3. 5.15pm - 7.30pm
With Martin giving me a running commentary of his and Joe's all-dayer, (what a cracker Martin ) one was stuck in work thinking maybe I should have done the same. Sadly I'm part of the don't work don't get paid crowd and with a stag do to the super expensive Chamonix the weekend I wanted a few beer tokens so this session was stupidly quick and not exactly convenient .

There would no messing around either, everything prepped, it was just a matter of positioning the baits and wait till I could make my way back the car without torchlight. Well the small sausage sizzle squab received bugger all attention but the big bait did and after many a ridiculous bites a fish hooked itself, sadly a chub of around 3 to 3.5lb. A few big fish topping, bites dried up and time to leave.

Oh well, at least I gave it a decent go. So many more plans in the new season, tactics need to change. rig tweaks, trotting and fishing lighter. Oh and a new club book I can fish in to dusk.

Biggest Barbel 9lb 10oz, not good enough.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Canal Zander – There Are Monsters

I can usually tell now from the clarity of the water what the fishing will be like. I had 2 and a half hours and that was it, luckily it does take me long to drive to many stretches of canal, this canal I’d fished before but not in this particular area.

It’s not a long stretch but over a couple of hundred yards there is plenty of feature, very unlike the norm down here. Reeds either side, even large overhanging trees dropping in the water.

Now when arriving at the water as it was clear, very clear indeed with the bottom of the shallow area easily visible.

Hmmm, not good….

That’s the problem with little boat traffic, Canal Zander like it mucky and then they are more active and you can find them anywhere. So the deeper area would likely hold some fish, as would be the cover so with a couple of deadbait set-ups, it was seek and I shall find.

After an hour without even a nibble the heavens opened and even with the Poncho donned the icy cold rain was starting to grate on me. Not only was the float being battered about but I was too. I needed to seek some shelter.

The bridge will have to do….

Baits refreshed, and back out, look and wait. The lure rod would have been the far better choice thinking about it, but this Zander quest dead seems to sort the men from the boys.

When it’s clear I like to nudge my baits occasionally as sometimes if there is a fish sitting tight then it sometimes twigs their predatory instinct.

With the right-hand rod tight to the support, I nudged it a couple of times and it settled a foot away from. Then within seconds, it’s on the move, from right to left and the float is sailing under. Rod lifted I’m in to a decent fish. It’s powered off down the stretch but with pressure applied I’ve turned the fish.

I can see it fully now, it’s a big Zander, flanks in full view this is a lunker, problem is I can see the bait within its jaws and it’s shaking its head.

I’m waiting for the inevitable,yeap 4 or 5 shakes later, it’s seen me, about turn it, jaws open, it goes back to its lair, I’m cursing and wondering what might have been.

Sometimes put the bait back out in the same spot and the fish will have another go.

Sadly not this one, encouraging signs for the closed season mind you.

I’ll be back….
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