Piscatorial Quagswagging

...the diary of a specialist angler in around the Warwickshire Avon and its tributaries.

Monday 14 September 2020

(Not Quite) The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.168 - Contortionists and Chasmophiles

A change of food in the bird feeder from peanuts to sunflower hearts was a revelation in lockdown. You see soon after the change the species of birds arriving in the Newey garden was a joy to behold. Even the Wife was taking an interest and she had never been that bothered before, she was quite happy with the finches and tits.

Now Sunflower hearts are the kernels of black sunflower seeds. This means that the husks have already been removed and so the hearts are easy for the birds to eat. They are a highly nutritious food which is rich in oil and protein and so provide valuable energy for wild birds.

Not just wild birds though, you see, the husks in the main are smaller than the bird feeders holes so any movement of the feeder from an inquisitive squirrel, or from a strong gust of wind, many of the husks fell to the ground and left a carpet of food for any passing animal.

Yeap, you guessed it, a rat....

Not just one or two of them either, a whole family of them, bugger !!!!

Hmmmm, decision decisions, so out went the sunflowers and it was back in with the peanuts....

The problem was after a couple or three weeks the eyebrow raisers that were a welcome sight were replaced with the humdrum, dare I say it, sadly back to just tits, and believe you me, I don't say that lightly. So a compromise I wonder ?, half and half, peanuts first, a handful of sunflower hearts and then filled to the brim with more peanuts.

All was going well for a few weeks, in-fact not only had the many species of birds returned in numbers but rodents were suspicious in their absence, because there was still falling husks albeit not in the numbers as before.

However that was about to change you see when I was bankside this morning a message from the Wife I had a grim job to do when I got back home. Seemingly a contornanist and rather large rat had managed to get himself inside the bird feeder and then couldn't get himself out.

Properly wedged bless him and probably with all the blood rushing to its head and the ensuing struggle passed away at the dinner table. 

Not a pretty sight either because when I got back to remove its corpse flies had already taken hold. If took some brute force to get out so God only knows how it managed to get fully in there in the first place.

A landing net pole to get it down, the Wife's gardening gloves to remove it ( ssshhhhhhh )

Anyway back to the session, I'm a bit river'd out at the minute. The conditions are not helping and the fact I've not caught anything decent for a while I fancied a change of scenery. 

I suppose a chance look a club I'm in facebook page that showed a double figure Zander being caught (>80cm) if I recall got my interest up again.

For this short session I headed to an area usually kind to me to try and at least get a bite so back to my usual tactics. Two deadbait rods and a roving approach, roach on one rod, smelt on the other....

I had planned to fish for almost 5 hours but it was a lovely morning and the boats started to move quite early on. Not usually a problem but it's difficult keep the baits static as the canal can turn in to a river almost. 

The first fish was a rather skinny and long pike that came within 10 minutes of putting the smelt rod out. There is always fish there, usually Zander though but not this time. In-fact I fished the swim again right as the end of the session and managed a small Jack.

It reached 23 degrees during the day as I type this and as soon as the sun came up the fresh morning turned in to being very warm indeed. 

The Zander were a struggle to track down however eventually one did grab the smelt when the float was dragged off line and I assume in-front of its face so it acted on its predator instinct. The float submerging entirely such the confidence it had managed to snare an easy meal.

Not a bad fish either and gave a pretty decent scrap. A passing cyclist taking a picture for his Dad who apparently has just started to target them himself. 

The boats just became too frequent and I just couldn't settle properly so I put an end to the session a couple of hours early for the rat extraction. 

I wouldn't say I miss canals that much, because the close season quest is more necessity than anything else, but I do love catching Zander, they up there with my favourite species. 

Over 168 sessions in to the quest, that double figure fish remains as elusive as ever....


  1. When you do crack it it’s going to be a great book though!

    1. One of the reasons why I keep a blog shows just how much effort I've put in :)


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