Monday 21 March 2016

Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.22 – Dead Meddling

As someone who likes to rig tinker with their Zander rigs I’m spoilt to be honest, for instance I know a certain banker swim that contains not only schoolies but also a decent stamp of relatively larger fish, within 20 minutes you’re guaranteed a fish will take a liking to the headless Roach or a red headed jig and you’ll have a fish dancing around the swim.

Within a ten minute radius by car or even a 20 minute walk I’m firmly in established Zander country, the local canals are awash with them you see, they are here to stay,so I might as well enjoy them as a sport fish and beats fishing a commercial fishery, well in my book anyway.

I used to catch my own Zander baits thinking that fresher the better, but over time, I’ve found they’re not that fussy so if you can stomach the cost it’s just as easy to buy some deads and save yourself the hassle and time. So recently some ‘Zander’ packs of 15-20 small roach approximately 2-3 inches turned up on my doorstep and I wanted to experiment with the hook link on my sleeper overdepth float set-up.

My usual tried and trusted Jeff Hatt recommended ultimate bass hooks (left)looked a little cumbersome against the small bait even though they are fantastic for hook-ups. Now I like do like a largish baits for most of my fishing particularly the Zander and have had reasonable success on them but I wonder if scaling down a little may be beneficial and increase the runs I’m getting without detriment to the banking and the size of the fish I’m catching.

So to complement the smaller baits I’ve been meddling with hooks again and for this session I was eager to try some Kamastsu Double Ryder hooks (right) (size 1) they are extensively used on the continent for live / deadbaiting for eels and Zander. The hooks are brazed at 90º with the smaller hook being used to secure the bait. This also gives a far less bulky hook arrangement, much better for getting a small live or deadbait into the fishes mouth.

The Roach was to remain full with the flanks cut to provide some ooze appeal, the bait secured via the lip on the smaller hook leaving the main hook free from any kind of resistance to hopefully aid the hook hold, and the still relatively large hook giving a scissor hold rather than being stuck down the gullet.

Well that’s the theory….

I've also bought some size 1 Sakuma 540 Manta Hooks (middle), I particularly likes the gauge and the shank length. For big sections of Roach they look idea. I'll leave those for another day though.

Pike are few and far between, in-fact out of the hundreds of Zander I’ve caught, only a couple or three Pike have got in the way, those three Pike were banked on fluorocarbon without issue and at the moment I’ve no reason to change.

I’ve scratched the surface of the Stratford-Upon-Avon canals fairly lengthy towpath in the quest for a cut double, its 25 miles long so not an easy task, so bare with me, time on the bank is the only way that I’m going to bank a double as….

….luck doesn’t very often come my way.

So leaving the Birmingham suburbs where after 54 locks and a major junction with the Grand Union at Lapworth, and after passing through some nice villages it ends at Stratford’s rather more picturesque but great unwashed and tourist frequenting Bancroft Basin and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

It’s amongst some of the nicer parts of the Midland canal network I fish and especially in the summer months with the sun out and a t-shirt worn some areas can actually be a nice place to be. The surrounding countryside has got wildlife in abundance and it’s not the stereotypical canal poo riddled towpath which can often appear bleak and lifeless.

Women joggers usually fit, Converse tracksuits and big backsides, a rarity….

Talking of boats, they are the biggest issue, they can be a pain in the proverbials. Dawn and dusk are easily the best times to fish when the boat traffic is lighter. Now talking of dusk, I’m planning to fish more short evening sessions when the clocks go forward and that was something that I didn’t do enough of this time last year and I’m sure I’m missing a trick.

What I've found is that the fish feed in waves and have patrol routes, so the problem is leave a deadbait for half an hour and you'll end up moving but then as soon as you do, 10 minutes later a fish would have intercepted it. So the more I fish different stretches and areas I get to know if it worth spending a little more time in one swim or not.Also when travelling from one swim to the next I drop the lure in to the margin and walk slowly dragging it with me, it's surprising just how many fish you'll catch just doing exactly that.

Each and every swim I fished looked very fishy indeed but after the fifth swim and two miles or so covered I remained biteless. The last swim I decided to sit it out longer with a deadbait and sure enough eventually the float started to move and bob. I tightened up and lifted in to fresh air, now Zander fishing can be very frustrating, was it the hook ? was it a tiny schoolie with eyes bigger than one belly, who knows.

One thing I do know though is get the bait back out there as the fish will likely still be there. This time though the float properly dragged under, again the same thing happened though, this time the bait was intact but the main hook at pierced one of the Roach's eyes so the point was shrouded.

3rd time lucky, the bait was out again, incidentally the lure was ignored. Ten minutes later, the float is on the move again, this time the fish was on, felt reasonable too but then after a couple of lunges the 2nd exit out the water the fish shook the bleeding hook, not going well is it.

Bugger this, so it was out with the bass hook, and I'll give it half an hour.

I had broken down the lure rod and put it back in its bag and the floats on the move again, this time I gave it a tad longer and when the float was dragged under I leaned in to the fish, yes, the fish was on. It was on a mission to throw the hook again but the fish was firmly hooked in the scissors and the bass hook had succeeded again. They certainly don't mind a big hook.

Only 4lb but welcome all the same....

So the next trip will be short and sweet and straight after work, I'm planning more midweek sessions in to dusk, hopefully the bigger fish will be biting whilst the kids are in bed.


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