Saturday 14 April 2018

Closed Season Canal Zander Quest PT78 – Potholes and Slowholes

Having returned from a lovely weeks holiday in the land that time forgot (Wales) where for the life of my I couldn't get a half decent pint, dragons, what dragons ? plenty of monsters and trolls mind you. So I was glad to be back to roads full of "Potholes and Slowholes" (Sam misheard the Wife) but where I knew I could get served an ale deserving of a pouring and such clarity George Burton would happily fish in.

At least the weather on the most part was good mind you, which to be honest can be very much hit and miss in this island we live on, but we had a few t-shirt weather days and plenty of fresh sea air because of it. I even managed a little colour on my face which ain't bad for April especially as the winter has been so long.

Generally not hiss and miss however is the life span and also spawning times for Zander. From a bit of research they apparently can live up to 17 years. They usually spawn for the first time at 3-10 years, usually at four. They spawn April-May, but could be late February until July, depending on latitude and altitude.

Now the water temperature needs to reach 10-14°C in spawning grounds as the lowest temperature for egg incubation is 11.5°C. May they can undertake short spawning migrations. Individuals foraging in brackish water in Europe can migrate to freshwater habitats and migrations of up to 250 km have been recorded apparently.

Males are territorial and excavate shallow depressions about 50 cm in diameter and 5-10 cm deep in sand or gravel, or among exposed plant roots on which eggs are deposited, usually in turbid water and at 1-3 m depth. They spawns in pairs, at dawn or night with the Female remaining over the nest while male circles rapidly around, at about 1 metre from nest.

Then the male takes a vertical orientation and both swim around swiftly, and eggs and sperm are released. After all the eggs are released female leaves the nest site. Male defends the nest and fans the eggs with his pectorals. Females spawn once a year. Feeding larvae are positively phototactic and feed on pelagic organisms after they leave the nest for open water. Piscivorous, feeding mostly on gregarious, pelagic fishes.

So I was back for another early morning Zander session, again nothing too tasking, leap frogging a few pegs to try and find some fish worthy of weighing. The water temperature was 8.7 degrees so the water temperature has some way to go for them to start getting jiggy, but with the weather getting warm next week, that won't be far away.

I didn't particularity like the clarity when I got there, less turbid and coloured than I'd have liked, and after an hour and a half without a bite I thought I might be wasting my time. The first barge meandered however, stirred up the bottom and shifted the fish off from their stations because within minutes I had the first bite.

A fish was on, it gave a pretty good fight to be honest and I could see why when it was landed. A very long fish indeed but with the build of someone with arms like knots in cotton. An old warrior though judging by the battle scars but a straw-weight rather than the heavy-weight I wanted. It went 4lb 5oz on the scales so again, I'm fairing a little better with the average weight this closed season, but still a mile off what will bring this challenge to a close.

A small schoolie followed quite quick but with the sun up and the sky blue, it was time to call the session to a close, to be honest I could have easily fished in my t-shirt when I left.

The first on a roach deadbait, the smaller fish on a smelt.

No dragons were found, but the search continues.....


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