Tuesday, 28 May 2019

The Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.134 - Cork-Brains and Cobble Colters

My PB Barbel of 12lb's 14oz's caught from the Warwickshire Avon came to a rather large lump of garlic spam. Now discontinued sadly, it's one of those baits I've utter confidence in especially come dusk where I want one bite and that bite I want from a Barbel, not a gluttonous Chub. 

However long term reader and sufferer of my blog John Werrett who treads the same towpath as me and shares his ups and downs with his sessions, saw the predicament I was in trying to replenish my depleted stocks and kindly donated a few tins to my cause.
 
I roped Sam in on the treasure hunt because John, left me a series of clues to get my hands on this meat of contraband status. It's as rare as a double figure Zander on the canals I fish, or rocking horse poo in other circles.

After scratching our heads and having difficulty finding it, Sam pointed to the errors of our ways and he managed to unravel the clues and retrieve the prize all by himself.

Sadly that was the highlight of the trip and despite knowing that there are carp and zander here, the only bite we had, which ensued when the static bait was dragged out of position, a seemingly hooked fished turned in to one that dropped off shortly in to the fight.

The boat traffic an ever increasing nightmare because being holiday makers there was no regulation of the throttle, it was either off or full steam ahead. The silt and debris churned up from the bottom leaving no visibility whatsoever. So 2 hours in to the session, we called it a day, but hey, I came away with 3 large tins of garlic spam, and Sam learnt something today, not that canal fishing can be tough, but " I didn't know moorhens had legs"

Cheers John appreciated !!!!

Monday, 27 May 2019

The Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.133 - Ark Ruffians and Autem Bawlers

A bite required, needs must so back to waters long forgotten, an area of containment, a few in-fact, fish here aplenty in years gone by. The was the area the area that kicked on my Zander obsession and because of it's location and footfall I prefer to fish other waters.

The biggest from this location for me, 5lb on the nose, certainly some nice fish around from what I know, but for me it's always been an area to get a bite, not for the lunkers I'm after.


But bites here can be plentiful if you play it right, bankside at 6.00am to avoid the great unwashed, a deadbait here is not the norm. Shad chuckers and wasp flickers here in numbers. The first bite came in the same swim, a visible pull of the line and the float bobbles and moves, then confidently goes from left to right and headed to the middle of the swim.


I feel a little resistance, but then it drops off !!!!

An inspection of the bait, it's a small fish. They tend to do that here, a little more pressure than the other areas I fish, so they can tentatively take the bait, clutching the bait side-on so any resistance they let go. Bait back out, again another bite, this time on the other rod.

Sure enough, another fish on, then off as quickly as I type this sentence.


But then two bites at the same time, one float properly going off like the fish is trying to take the bait away from another fish. So a pack most likely mooching around the structure and moving around confident fashion.

A small fish banked, hardly troubled the rod though, a fish is a fish after all.

2 lure anglers turn up, one has decided to join me at my swim, that's nice of him isn't it. He's been blanking and wanted to see what I was doing,

"Hey I recognise you"


Just as the left hand float starts to bob and a confident bite leads to something that is at least putting up a scrap.

Time to move on, I prefer fishing on my terms, a towpath that I share with the rabbits and ducks. So on to the next stretch, an area that has been on my radar for a while. Some cover I wanted to fish, this more my thing some roving to do, the step meter woken up.


The far bank cover is thick here, but boat traffic can be heavy, the shallow waters going from static to pedestrian in a split second. As someone that has fish for Zander plenty of times you get to know where these fish hold out, and sure enough as nice thick bush providing some canopy cover brought a bite pretty quick.

Not a huge fish but at least I'm on them now, having had some mediocre sessions of late. A another couple of hours fishing a few other likely looking spots, no more fish. The boats becoming a pain.


Saturday, 25 May 2019

The Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.132 - Pterodactyls and Poulterers

Imagine crossing the moors and hills of England and encountering what looks like nothing less than a living, breathing pterodactyl! Think it couldn’t happen? It already has. From 1982 to 1983, a wave of sightings of such a creature – presumed extinct for tens of millions of years occurred in the Pennines, better known as the “backbone of England.”


So far as can be determined, the first sighting occurred in September 1982. That was when a man named William Green encountered at Shipley Glen a large, grey coloured creature, which possessed a pair of leathery-looking wings. The latter point is notable, since it effectively rules out a significantly sized feathery bird, and does indeed place matters into a pterodactyl category.

Perhaps inevitably, the local media soon heard of the sightings and while the theory that a large bird of prey had escaped from a menagerie or zoo may have satisfied the skeptics, it did not go down well with the witnesses, who were sure that what they had encountered was something straight out of the Jurassic era.

And it looks like they are now in Warwickshire in 2019, a poo of pterodactyal proportions tainting ones car. A poop mess so big I had to get the jetwash out as soon as I got back home for fear of marking ones paintwork.

I'm not having a good time of it of late, the canals seemingly out of sorts, well for me anyway, others seemingly able to get a bend in the rod. I need to get ones mojo back and the only way to do that is to pull through the baron period and maybe fish areas of canal I'd not fish before, or maybe not for a while anyway.

When the sun is a strong as it was today, the carp can start showing themselves and if anything will give a good bend in the rod it will be a carp. So some double dipping keeps ones mind away from me having to resort to fish a pool or a lake, which to be honest isn't really my thing.


I can see the appeal for sure, especially when the tench are showing themselves about now, but I'm not going to close this quest of mine for a canal double doing that now am I. Things didn't start well for this session, and to be honest didn't improve.

Two rods, a full on smelt approach with a back-up car rod if I'd stumbled upon some carp. Again the canal felt lifeless and despite roving around I couldn't buy a bite.


Three areas of canal visited, one I'd not fished before in anger the other two generally a Zander hangout, and yet not even a bobble or a murmur on the overdepth float set-ups.

Eventually I found a carp hide out with 5 carp hiding among the thick far bank cover. Some bread in and around their lair was ignored, and even when one of them ventured out from the stronghold a tempting large piece of slowly sinking bread was ignored.


Time called end of play and yet again I went home with the tail between ones legs. Now these carp hang out around here, so as I know where they are I'm planning to bring Sam here, because he usually brings me good luck.

To be honest the biggest wouldn't likely reach 15lb on the dials but at least it would give me some sport in a desperate time which I'm firmly in now.

The deadbaits, yeap nothing doing, another blank to add to the collection !!!!

Friday, 24 May 2019

The Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.131 - Drudgery and Draggletails

Another one of my pates spinning, a meeting with an ex boss about some interior work for a sports car company, encouraging signs for someone looking for something longer term than the contract I've got at the moment. The location, well it couldn't be better, not far to drive, a flexible working week and not bad dosh either. To be honest I've probably got to many irons in the fire at the minute, I'm not sure if that is a good or a bad thing.


Anyway back to the fish, once the informal chat finished, a 5 minute drive away is an area where a proper lunker of a Zander was caught. A quest concluder basically, land that fish, there would no need to get the scales out because I'd know that the dial would go beyond the 10lb and even past the 12.

Now the problem is not only the volume of water this is here but the conditions....


You see looking back at my blog when it's BBQ and beer garden weather they dust off those deck chairs of theirs and have a nap, a ridiculously long one. Bites can be hard to come by, ok, stumble upon a group of fish fair enough, but they don't appear to be moving around that much, most likely feeding in short spells when they've woken up from their slumber.

I'm sure a lure would be the better option in these conditions and to be fair I might if I struggle over the next couple of sessions I might dust of the shad gear.


So the session was short, but enough time to see if the rather big Zander was home. It's deep here, in-fact some of the deepest bit of water I fish, the float stops having to be moved up another couple of feet, maybe more. When the sun is strong like it was for the session that could well be a help because the light probably doesn't quite penetrate all the way down the bottom.

Carp are the opposite of cause, they love these conditions and can often be seen sunning themselves in these green turbid waters.


Anyway I'll cut to the chase, a section of cover fished, and two pounds....

The results, well not what I expected....

One of the smallest Zeds's I've caught in a long time....


Hmmmm, I'm not doing well of late, maybe a change of venue is the only way to beat the drudgery, I wouldn't say I'm losing the will to live, but certainly I'm losing the will to chase Zander at the minute. The distraction of carp much needed me thinks, and yeah, those I'm struggling with as well, don't rub it in.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

The Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.130 - Eutechnics and Expergefactors

Some trampled grass, wild flowers disturbed, and to the left a short and fat dog poop a good 50mm in diameter. Look out for it as it’s a bankside features which indicates a section of cover which is a haven to big carp, if you find it, and hook in to something it will likely be big, very big.

This area is home to big Zander as well, well it was, 20 yards down is similar looking cover I landed a Zander of 8lb 10oz’s, a proper short and fat fish that given another couple of years of growth would have been a double for sure. 


This short stretch though may well have had its heyday, certainly the Zander numbers are down and I’ve not caught anything here over 5lb for a long time. If it wasn’t for the convenience and the fact that there could well be some lunkers still around I’d have probably forgotten it by now.

It’s the carp that has also keep it on my radar, because they are seeimgly here in numbers, and some good ones as well. They keep themselves to themselves most of the time but venture out in full view in random fashion. Be there when that happens you’d be amazed such a stamp of fish call this turbid canal their home. 


I’ve yet to land one though, hooked 2 lost two, their initial powerful run and the bullying required to steer them away from the snags have led to hook pulls both times. All very frustrating as the one I hooked the weekend would have likely gone 15 to 20lbs. It was the condition of the fish that was something else, not like the last carp I caught off the cut which was a proper runt.

Anyway back to the session, proper short and sweet. An hour and a half, the first hour trying to find some Zander with two deadbait rods, and to conclude the session I’d try for a carp where I found them hiding last time. It was a warm one as well, 19 degrees and quite pleasant to be out. When I was bankside though it really did look lifeless, and that’s how it remained for the duration I was there. 


The water was coloured from all the boat traffic during the day so ok, the carp might have been put off from leaving their holding spots, but where were the Zander? This on the whole is a highly productive area.

All very worrying indeed !!!!

A text message came from Nic from Avon Angling UK who also suffered the same fate. This fish were just not up for feeding. A change in temperature, atmospheric pressure, or I’m just not very good at location fish,who knows but I’m hit a bit of a wall again, which to be fair always seems to happen with the river season just round the corner.


Bobbleless floats and a motionless bobbin = lots of thinking time and you’d have thought that those things on my mind would only be amplified, but you’d be wrong. Fishing gives me the much needed solitude I need to seek to keep one’s mind on the right track. It’s odd but I don’t think of anything but fishing, one’s mind blank to those life’s worries that we all have. Some cycle, others go to the gym, do whatever works for you I say.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

The Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.129 - Fribble and Frummagemmed

A night on the town, no cars on the drive, I needed to go fishing. Luckily a bike ride away an area of Zander and Carp, a canal that has given me pleasure over the years.

The problem was ones rear tyre was a flat as my recent Zander exploits. The area of turbid water was only a mile and a half walk though so, and to be fair with a head rather fuzzy with the Wife and I's exploits the night before it would be a nice head clearer.


Now the Zander have been a little off of late so for this session I'd be targeting the carp, they were on the move around here last time so I fancied a proper bend in the rod. One rod a wafter and some pellets in a PVA bag and a float set-up to fish close in with the float sat on the surface and a hunk of bread underneath.

The walk was dispatched easy enough but it was rather muggy with the cloud staying for most of the session. There is no point chucking a bait out in a water as big as this, you need to find the fish. That is easier said than done but as someone who has spent countless hours trudging these waterways you get to know certain areas that hold them.


After a couple of hours I thought I was wasting my time but I return to an area where I'd hooked and lost one before and sure enough tucked up in some cover was a carp. Not a huge one maybe 6 or 7 pounds but eventually after watching it for a few minutes it ventured out from his strong hold.

Now these carp are not stupid, they can actively ignore your hookbait and turn their nose up at anything floating on the surface. These carp are not fished for either, in-fact I cannot remember the last time I've seen an angler here.


With a slow sinking piece of breadflake I slowly lowered it in the water where it was milling around. With a a few freebies in and around the hookbait I crouched down and watched it in the swim for a while doing its best to ignore the bread offering. A boat went by, then another, the fish no more.

However further up from here is an area of thick over and I know there are carp tucked here from previous trips to this area. You could spend an hour sat here and not even know that they are here but sometimes they go on the move especially when the sun is up and you've gobsmacked what this canal contains.


By this time with an hour to go the sun had come out and out the corner of my eye, three carp the biggest between 15 to 20lb came out from hiding. Me watching in amazement, another boat came by so I sized my opportunity. After the swim commotion I managed to get a cracking underarm cast in, with the PVA bag helping the lead from getting stuck in the silt.

Then 10 minutes later a couple of beeps and then all hell breaks loose. I didn't have time to think I need to get the fish away from the snags and under the surface branches. The problem was, this carp wasn't messing around so despite all the side strain I could give with my hand on the spool to up the drag even more, the hooked pulled. I saw the flanks and it was a lovely golden coloured common.


Damn, this is the second fish I've lost in this swim, the other lost a while ago and lost in a similar manner albeit I it was the spreader block failure on the landing net that caused the loss.

I'll be back don't worry, maybe a lead clip set-up next time, to give me as much chance as possible in landing it, if I hook in to one again. You can see why I don't fish for carp very often, because to be honest, I'm just not very good. Oh well, practice makes perfect.

Friday, 17 May 2019

The Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.128 - Queer Morts and Quest Concluders

Every cloud has a sliver lining, you see after a somewhat frustrating session, a long conversation with a fellow angler who spends his life on these turbid waterways which happened have giving him some of my deadbaits, a location of a 14lb canal Zander was shared.  It was at an area to be honest had been off my radar, you see if there are lots of boats moving around and towpaths to be trodden by gongoozlers and poo bag swingers, they all can be found here.


I've fished it for sure but only a couple of times and yes, there are Zander here, but if there are big'uns around that's got my interest back again, so I might try a couple of times post tea sessions to try and bag myself a quest concluder. Now whist moored up for the evening fishing a chunk of bread under a float the fella had been done over like a kipper after a carp hoovered up his bread and made off with it.

I was here for carp as well as I'd spotted a small group the weekend just gone in an area that I spot them from time to time. However for this session despite leaving the bread bait out for a while nothing decided that it would like it. A Zedlet fancied a smelt though and sadly that was the only fish I managed.


Anyway above the moored boat is an area of thick cover that usually produces Zander, I say usually as it isn't what it used to be for sure. I'm not sure why, but more often then not I remain biteless these days, a banker no more sadly. Carp have this as a patrol route and that's exactly what happened for this session. I was fishing tight to some cover with a smelt and I noticed a fish coming towards me in the near margin, and looking at the water disturbance a decent fish as well.

Sure enough with the polarised sunglasses on as it passed by my feat it was a golden fully scaled common of decent statue, maybe 15lb or so, possibly more.

The problem was, I was out of bread, so the boater returned the favour and gave me a small baguette to help me out of the predicament I was in.

So a hunk of bread was dropped slowly in the margins and I stepped back from the water. A few freebies, I was hoping the fish would return.

Ten minutes later he came down for a natter, and whilst we were talking a couple of beeps from the Delkims and the rod top was knocking and tapping away.

A few seconds later the tip has properly bent round on the scope and fish is on, well it was on for a few seconds, as it wasn't a carp after all it was a Zander.

Yeap a Zander around 4lb or so had wolfed down the bread and in its bid to escape managed to shake its head and throw the hook. Now I've caught Zander before on boilies of all things so maybe I'm missing a trick, I should have a departure on fishing for Zander and fish for carp as I'd probably pick up some nice Zander too.


That's as exciting as the session got as crayfish I assume had a good go on the smelt and stripped it to the bone and with the boat traffic on the increase it was time to call it a day, one tiny Zed caught, but certainly encouraging to see a carp like that on the canal and also a location of another double figure Zander in the canal network I fish. If anyone deserves a lucky break it's me, this my 128 session in to ones quest for a cut double.


Please, don't make this quest of mine the rainbows end.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

The Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.127 - Time Tussles and Tyrant Tarka's

I've suspect for a long time now some of the stretches of the Grand Union canal I fish have had Otters in residence. The numbers of Zander fallen for certain, the fish harder to locate, and it was after I had a conversation with a dog walker who walks this particular stretch as dusk who started to spot them despite not seeing them myself. 

I thought the turbid water would put them off, but then out of the blue I received a message from Nic off of Avon Angling UK who was fishing an area I fish confirmed conclusively that a pair of Otters are here for certain, no question, see for yourself !!!!

Human presence, doesn't bother us my angling friends, now where's that Zander. 


Now luckily for me I'm on double bubble at the minute so work has taken priority over ones fishing so I doubt I'll get bankside till the weekend.The issue for me is not far away, certainly a night excursion for out furry friends is the area I refer to as the 'deep bit'. It had form reasonably recently but I suspect that may be short lived and the Zed's fed up of watching their backs my relocate to someone else.

Finger and toes crossed !!!!

Sunday, 12 May 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.126 – Screw Jaws and Spanish Slashers

A funny old end to the week, me and all other jobbers had their contract terminated, Thor's hammer fell at the client big time, most likely for many of the permanent staff as well, a site of much history, some good, some bad, likely to be no more. So two weeks paid notice away from the site of high security and prying eyes. Luckily though the networking and jungle drums in full swing without even trying, the coffers will be given a much needed boost, albeit short term. So with all this doom and gloom only one thing for it.

Yeap go fishing !!!!


At this time of year the weather can be all over the shop, but with clear skies and plenty of sun like it was for this session being bankside is fantastic. I was scraping ice off the windscreen when I left but as soon as the sun was poking itself over the trees behind me, it was very pleasant indeed.

The air nice and fresh, almost a spring in my step !!!!


The banks full of flowers, butterflies and insects. The moorhen chicks looking like massive bumblebee's when it is like this all those niggling things at the back of ones mind disappear and you don't think about anything whatsoever. Fishing can be tonic for the mind and it's good exercise too, my step goal activating with quite a bit of the session to go.

Now I was up at the tefal head for this session, an area that is home to my second biggest canal Zander of 8lb's 10oz's. An otter now shares the banks with the lambs and sheep though so sadly the moorhens chicks are possibly on a deathwish.


There are still fish to be caught though, and there are one or two banker swims that still hold fish. Sure enough the first cast of the smelts tight against some cover produced bites almost instantly. Two schoolies banked before even the frost had a chance to melt.

The problem is you have to find the fish and they for me seem to be getting less and less each year. There are big ones milling around though and that's why I return time and time again. The boats are less frequent here and with a large distance between locks it attracts fish for that very reason.


Now good friend and fellow Zed Head Danny from The L.O.A. put me on to a carp holding area sometime ago now and Dan, yes they are still there, despite Tarka been spotted a mile away, these fish are still around luckily. With the sun up and specs donned I could see them just kissing the surface and holding station tight to some cover, so when I get a chance I might have a try for them.

The water temperature as 12.1 degrees and the ever increasing solar loading will get them on the move most likely now. I've a scope sawn-off for discoveries like this because they are not that many pockets like that around, well certainly the areas I fish anyway.

Anyway back to the Zander, lots of walking, lots of swims fished and it was proving more difficult than I thought. Another schoolie shoal stumbled upon these are not the size of the fish I'm after, but they certainly provide some good sport.

They fight really well considering their size. Another fish caught and two missed bites, 5 fish wasn't a bad session I suppose. The problem is like I've found fishing for these canal Zander of the years is that the bigger fish don't show themselves that often.

When they do, it makes me continue what I do, if there is a chance of a canal double I want in on it. I'm lucky to have them on my doorstep I must admit. Many wouldn't agree with me for sure, but I've grown to love them as a species and for no fault of their own have made the Midlands canal network their home.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.125 – Grinagog's and Grumbletonians

The session the weekend just gone, 7 Zander caught, fish lost, bites galore, things were looking up. You see the Zeds appear to be free from the shackles of their Thierry Mugler corset dresses and are back to being mobile, back to do what they do best. There isn’t any science to catching Zander in this mood to be honest but if I’m to catch a big female with bulging bits with narcissism to match, I need to up the bank time.

That’s not easy because after all I’ve mouths to feed and a home to keep. An hour here, an hour there can really pay off though, especially if you’ve spent as much time chasing the needle in the proverbial haystack like I have, you get to know areas where bites are nearly almost guaranteed. Those areas are few and far between, they really are.


Now a step on from that is an area I found that is as rare as a correct MP’s expenses form, you see it’s an area that not only produces plenty of bites but those Zed’s that bite are usually fish over 3 or 4 pound. It’s an area that a 5lber isn’t an eyebrow raiser which believe you me, a 5lber is a rare canal Zander I tell thee.

This early morning session, would be short, very short indeed, maybe three, three and a a half hours max before the geriatrics activate their galvanic isolators and get on the move. I’d fish tight to some cover with smelt on the Sakuma Manta’s. It’s an area I refer to as the ‘deep bit’ because the cutting here has some nice depth to it, it may only be a foot and a half deeper than the usual depth of the canal but any ‘feature’ like this can really up the catch rate of the bigger fish.


A 7lb 8oz fish my biggest up till now in this particular area but having caught other fish exceeding 5lb it’s that rare hotspot us specimen Zed heads are trying to find. I’ve given it a little rest of late because oddly it’s been off form. I’m sure the spawning ritual didn’t help mind you so I was back for this quicky to see if there are fish here still.

I tend to give this section of cover a little more time however, the floats a little more time to settle. When the fish are up and moving around if you haven’t had a bit within 10 or 15 minutes it’s time to move to the next spot.

When the fish are in situ they will readily take a deadbait when dropped on their noggin’s so it’s a waste of time fishing one swim if bites are not forthcoming, you need to move. It means lots of canal can be covered which can be daunting at first to a newbie where all you can see is a huge volume of water, scratching your head thinking where to start.


Find the fish, rather than them find you, so anyway, back to the session !!!!

Now Nick from Avon Angling UK was out with a friend of his Steve the other day and they did quite well on dyed yellow deadbaits so for this session I thought I'd give them a go myself. Now Zander are known to like green and certainly it's one of the default colours for me so I wondered if they would make any difference, maybe a headturner over the hundrum.

It didn't help that I drove to the venue then realised I'd forgotten the deadbaits so I had to return home  to fetch them, so 20 minutes wasted basically in prime fishing time. Anyway I eventually got fishing but nearly an hour spent in the deep bit and boats starting to get moving it was time to get on the rove.


There are certain spots that usually hold Zander but today they were off feeding for sure. Eventually I received the first bite nearly two and half hours in to the session but it was a small fish that dropped off when it let go of the bait. A banker area sure enough produced a bite but again a lost fish, I don't think it was all that big luckily. So the last half an hour fishing the deep bit again, not a jot. Hmmm, not good, this used to be a productive area, just goes to show how much it can change.

So another blank to add to my list !!!!

Monday, 6 May 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.124 - Stink Holes and Stall Whimpers

When the Wife is out I take every opportunity to eat fish, she’s not a fish lover you see unless it’s freshly battered from the chippy or a hunk of cod with some new potatoes and veg she’s not a fan.

“But it’s got that fishy smell”

“Well, yeah, it’s a fish, it smells fishy”


If I ever deep hook a Zander again and it looks palatable, I might give this a go that I found on YouTube . It shows how to fillet a Zander and also gives a recipe for a Doom Bar Batter. I often catch fish from the canal that look good enough to eat, plump, fresh white flesh, others I’d be worried I’d do myself a disservice and might not wake up the next morning. Now considering the quantity of Zander I’ve caught, I’ve yet to take one home, and yet, as they are not a native species to the UK, you can do with them what you want.

I’ve had communication with the Environment Agency in the past and they confirm as many of us Zed Heads know that Zander are very much naturalised and established in many Midland waterways so you wouldn’t be hauled up to the judge if you put them back.


And put them back I do, because I want to catch it when it’s bigger. Catch and release is practiced in course fishing after all, so why would a non-native fish be any different.

Not Zander for this meal, but trout wrapped in prosciutto, over a bed of puy lentils and samphire, with a few small prawns over the top.

Salty, lemony and peppery, what’s not to like !!!!

To be fair there isn’t much I don’t eat or wouldn’t try but the reality is I’m in a minority these days, well certainly a dying breed. China was certainly an experience I won’t forget any time soon, they basically eat anything and everything and use every bit of the animal.


Not a bad thing I suppose,now one thing I couldn’t quite get over though was how they cook their chickens. Basically they look like they had come straight from a spitting image set after being run over, not once but twice. Certainly not the most appealing especially when some of the dishes I tried still had blood oozing from them.

I tried all manner of dishes though, duck tongues, pig’s intestines, bull frogs and a ‘thousand year old egg’ which is basically duck eggs coated with lime, ashes and mud, soaked in brine for 100 days until the yolk turns green and the whites become gelatinous and dark brown. The eggs have a creamy cheese flavour with a strong smell.

Sound inviting?, let’s just say I’ll give that a miss if I go again !!!!

Anyway back on track, smelt as you know has been a bit of a revelation in ones Zander fishing. They really do the business, fish a small roach back to back, it’s the smelt that usually ends up the winner.

The thing is, it’s got a soft texture which I think helps, they sure do like it and with that combination of that dreaded ‘fishy’ smell and a background hue of cucumber, yes you hear right cucumber, it’s a winner.

For this quick session I was to fish the area I call the Laryngeal Prominence and also to get my daily  steps in, I'd also mosey on up and fish opposite the J√∂rmungand.

Now these are waters I know contain big Zander because not only have I caught my PB from here, but also a 8lb 10oz fish and also I’d lost a good’un as well . Back to what I do, two deadbait rods, leapfrog areas of likely fish holding areas….

….awaiting those zepplers to bob !!!!


An early start again and what a nice morning it was, now after three bites and two lost fish quite quickly in to the session I was thinking, hmm could this get any worse. It did though because after getting one of my floats snagged in an overhanging bush a couple of violent pulls it pulled free and was headed towards ones face.

Sadly my reactions were too slow and the float hit the side of my cheek full pelt. It drew blood and also marked the side of my cheek, what an idiot !!!!.

Now there was frost on the fields first thing but when the same came out it was rather nice, so it was out with my lucky hat and the beanie was dumped.


It was roving session this and ended up going rather well, after the initial problems, one particular swim I managed 3 fish from and all over 3lb as well. Another 2 fish caught out of a swim with thick cover, it appeared that the fish could well be off the nets, hungry and moving around.

The last swim another two fish caught the biggest going 4lb on the scales. It gave a good account for itself as well like many of them do at this time of the year. Despite being bankside not much past 6, o'clock the first boat came through at just gone 7.00am.


No let up either a steady stream of them till I left at 11.00am. An enjoyable session though and smelt and at the latter part of the session small whole roach did the trick today. I'd not fish this area for a while so good to see the fish back in numbers, Just need to track a big'un down now.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.123 – Schism Shops and Scoville Scales

Out one lunchtime in work to get some vitamin D, I spotted the many chilli’s on the packet, hmmmm what’s that then, interesting, heck might give it a bash nothing to lose, so in the basket on a whim it goes.

I was expecting a little more from Morrisons Takeaway Chicken Phall, ok we know that Phall is a Bangladeshi restaurant creation from these shores for those that enjoy the hotter curries, but their 'Volcanic Vindaloo' wasn’t a bad effort from someone who usually makes their own from scratch.


You only to look at the contents and packing to see that chilli and tomatoes would dominate the flavour, the chilli heat coming from from naga extract and scorpion paste, but the other ingredients stated on the packet such a coriander powder, whole curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds couldn’t really be detected.

For a supermarket curry, it was a hot’un though, I must admit, if only the justice system in this country followed the same scoville scale in their workplace rather than their mass bell pepper consumption, this country would be a better place.


I’m a bit of a heathen when it comes to saucy curries, the ones I make are generally drier in the main so a simple side of basmati rice complements them better than the skinny fries I had with this raging retail effort. Sprinkled with a few small prawns and chopped coriander, and washed down with a freezer cooled bottle of Italian dry white, it certainly woke up the taste buds that’s for sure.

Now talking of taste buds I was hoping after the capture of a Zander in the week on smelt that after being off for a while with all things bukkake they would be back seeking some palate wake-a-rupper’ers as by now in theory the young should have hatched.

I was in two minds where to go for this session but an area stumbled upon that I recognised where a double was caught, won over an area that a bite would be forthcoming, the fish size all a bit mehhhhhh !!!!.

Well I say that, you never know when a big’un will turn up, because all the ones I’ve caught over 5 or 6lb (quite a few now) have come out of nowhere.

The biggest a 9lb fish, came from a shallow area I’d only ever had schoolies before and the second biggest from an area that is usually a banker, but for waspers delights, nothing of note, but it can save a blank if you’re staring down that barrel that no angler wants to if they can help it.

So anyway back on track for this session I was at an area that I tracked down from a picture that appeared on a clubs Facebook showing a cracking Zander, a proper lunker. After a bit of messaging with the like-minded and someone who knew the capture, it was 12lb fish, but it was only when I decided to see if I could find it's location that even small details in a picture I could narrow it down to an area.


As someone who has covered miles and miles of towpath you build up a pictorial recall or retrieval of memory boarding on hyperthymesia, if I've been there in the past, I can pinpoint the location quite quickly and confirm it with the online tools we have at our disposal these days.

The reality is, if I'm to bring this quest of mine to a conclusion then I need to give myself a best chance of backing something big, and that sometime means jumping on other anglers successes. Not my usual way of fishing, but sometimes I need to do what others do to increase ones probability of catching a canal double.

I was initially given some information where it possibly was caught from but despite being on the same canal it was niggling at the back of my mind it was in an entirely different area altogether, albeit not a million of miles away, well 4 miles when I measure it on Google maps.


You see despite only a few features in the picture of what was a rather large canal Zander a quick look on Google and it's 3D facility and confirmed with actual pictures from the brilliant CanalPlanAC it was exactly where I thought it was. Well it looked that way anyway, the angle on the pictures wasn't quite right, so I needed to get to the location first to confirm the method in my madness.

The problem is, in my experience anyway catch a big Zander from a particular area you won't catch it again from the same spot. Unlike big Pike they appear to be very transient on the whole, however I'm sure there are areas such as marina's which will always hold the same fish and despite catching Zander from the spot where the big fish was caught, it I remember rightly it had enough feature to keep a big fish interested.


The fishing can be a little hit and miss at the minute but you cannot catch a fish without a bait in the water can you. So after an early start I headed straight to the big fish swim and as suspected it was where I thought it was. Now it's a big piece of water here, so there is a lot to go at so for the first couple of hours I put a couple of deadbaits, in and around the swim. It's deep as well as I had to adjust the float stop a couple of times. So I can certainly see why a big fish would be happy here.

I found a roach dead though so, someone else must be fishing it like I do, bugger !!!!


After an hour or so the first bite came with the float getting some interest and being dragged left to right and then right to left. As soon as I felt its weight I realised it was only a small fish, in-fact one of the smallest Zeds I've caught recently. But then as an experienced zed angler these bigger fish don't give up easily.

All went quiet and with the first boat going through I decided to go on the rove and fish some cover I've fished before. It's a bit of long walk but the sun was out and it was quite pleasant. After twenty minutes after the first cast I bite came.


It carted to the right quite quickly so I lifted the rod and the fish was giving a decent account for itself. I could tell it wasn't hooked properly though and sure enough after seeing its flanks It came off. Not a big fish luckily maybe 3 or 4 pounds but a fish I'd have liked to land.

I leapfrogged the stretch but when the locks are open here the water ends up in a torrent and the bait is often dragged off station. So again, back to where I came from to try and beat the boat and fish the big fish swim for another hour.


An out of condition spawned out Perch fell to a roach deadbait and that was that, the boats started up in anger and it was time to go. I'll be back though, maybe a couple of in to dusk session would be worth trying, there are certainly Zander here and some lunkers among them as well.

The problem is there are good Zander on my doorstep as I'd fish this area more often, the scale of the water is very different to what I'm used to and that brings issues in tracking down a big fish even harder. I could well spread myself too thin, I should be confident in where I fish because I have banked some nice fish now, just not that double I'm after.


On to the next one !!!!
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