Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Thursday 29 April 2021

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.196 - Snitchers and Snobocracy

An hour in to Netflix's latest offering the 'Stowaway' I'm wondering when the film like the Bojo and Cummings wallpaper-gate saga was going to kick up a gear, the first scene launches us into some action along with three astronauts headed on a two-year mission to Mars. 

Soon after the turbulent take-off, they encounter an unlikely surprise, a stowaway, an engineer who was injured and knocked out during launch prep, now along with them for the ride. Yes really, not an alien this time, but a proper human and all.

Initial shock soon turns to panic as the destruction of an air filtration device means that there is only enough oxygen for three of them to survive.

No Hitchcockian psychological thriller territory here instead it keeps it firmly in the realm of so-called 'hard sci-fi', as the crew is forced to confront the logistics of a devastating dilemma with time not on their side. 

Solutions are believably scarce. Can the biologist find a way to make his algae produce enough oxygen? 

Can the on-the-ground support to find the science to save them? Can the medical researcher convince them that a death-defying mission might be worth the risk?

Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm nodding off at this point then out of the blue my phone jumps in to life just before 10.00pm when for some reason Nic from Avon Angling UK is ringing me. With the Wife now giving me the death stare as she I'd do the same if her phone was ringing in the middle of a movie....
....So after leaving Nic to ring off I thought bugger it, I need to know what's up, what was doing, as naturally I was intrigued so I sent him a message, because there must be a good reason why he's ringing me, he MUST have caught something decent...

"make yourself another drink, I'll just ring Nic back"

I call back but his phone rings out, but then a few minutes later he returns my call...

"Alright mate, I've just caught a monster Zander, it's huge !!!!" A double figure easily, It's massive" I'm still trembling !!!!"

I could hear it in his voice too, like he'd seen a ghost or stared in to the face of death, a proper knee trembler by all accounts, but then I dread to think what I'd be like if ever I'm in the same position. 

After he calmed down and his heart rate had returned to normal he recounted the story and it certainly sounded more eventful than the film.  

He'd been plagued by pike attacking his keep net during a couple of pleasure fishing sessions there and had a smelt out to try and catch it for this session where he'd also managed a nice silver bream. 

Unbeknown to him though after an initial enquiry he'd put the bait out again and a fish had taken the bait almost immediately after the recast.

This was no Pike though it was a Zander, one that after taking line and trying to lose the hook like they do, however after a decent scrap eventually it was just about teased in to the landing net which buckled under the strain.

He sent me a quick picture off his phone resting in the net which I won't post here, but after he got back home after and I'd finished the film and bed bound (don't bother), later on at 1.00am he sent me a grab from the footage off his camera. (still buzzing I'd imagine)

So I woke up to the message and a first proper look at the 10lb 12 ounce spawned out canal monster that he'd managed to catch from the Grand Unions turbid waters. 

Now having given Nic some tips a few years ago now to catch his first canal Zander, he's been hooked on them like I have. Ok he hasn't got the single minded approach I'd taken in the closed season but he's certainly fished for them extensively. 

In the conversation the night before he'd almost felt sorry for catching it, knowing the efforts I've put in over the years, but naturally I was happy for it, why wouldn't I been.

I've always been pragmatic over all things canal Zander, knowing that the needle in the haystack challenge has no real science to it. I just love to know the fish are there to be caught and that there is a hope I'll catch one myself, one day. 

The double figure fish rarely do turn up, but when they do, they can turn up anywhere and to anyone. 

Much of it is luck, being in the right time and in the right place. With my carpet bombing approach will it happen who knows, as if I'd caught a fish like Nic just has, where is there is to go in canal Zander fishing ?, Nic has almost peaked too soon 💪 as my shoes have worn out under the challenge. 
So for this session Nic would return to hallowed ground and I'd follow his footsteps to the area where the fish had been caught. I've spread myself too thinly over the last couple of years and tend to fish familiar spots however a recent discovery after I was put on to a spot did throw up some nice fish.

In one swim 10 Zander caught with 8 of those over 4lb. The biggest was over 6lb so still encouraging signs but again nothing like the >80 cm fish that graced his net. 

With 6 or 7 weeks remaining of the closed season I'm going to concentrate my efforts on just three areas now, three areas where there is every chance a similar stamp of fish is swimming in the electrified waters. 

Only one of those I'd given a good go though, the other two I'd be fishing almost blind. But going forward its clear where I have been fishing isn't producing the goods, even though there was a chance of a double before, 9lb on the nose still my PB. The reality is having caught quite a few 5, 6 and 7'bers, a 8lb 10 fish, and the 9lber, they are still canal specimens so I shouldn't be too hard on myself.

The problem is with these transient lunkers they are rarely caught at the same spot again, they do on the odd occasion for sure, because of know of one such fish (yes I have tried, but failed)  but in the main you'll be wasting your time. At little like this challenge so far then, it would have broken many a man, let me tell you. 

Was this fish once bitten twice shy ? 

Only one way to find out, to the bush forthwith !!!! 

I decided to sit it out with deadbaits whilst Nic was plundering the silver fish stocks catching rudd, skimmers and silver bream close to the reeds and also out in the track.

There had been lots of cold rain the night before so the sport wasn't as prolific as it usually is here apparently and when a tiny jack succumbed to a smelt the evening turned in to pike soup.

Out of the blue on the retrieve a decent pike had come up to grab the bait and for the next two hours or so we had 6 or 7 ravenous pike in a concentrated 50 yard wide area attacking everything that moved.

The keep-net was being attacked, even the float was hit at one point. I'm sure a surface frog lure would have been brilliant such their ferocity.

A slender thing with a rather large open wound on it's back provided a decent bend in the rod and soon after a double figure fish hovered up the smelt that had been dangled in front of it.

After a couple of runs I thought I'd be able to tease it in to the net but with one last head shake with the line under tension the bait comes flying out its mouth and ended up in the bush behind me, damn, would have maybe rivalled the 11lber I caught on the canal not long ago.

With the light going and Nic being biteless for an hour with all the predators in residence he returned to his car and joined me in to dark fishing deadbaits as well.

Not long in to dark his alarm goes and he's in to a pike which took a roach bait close in, a lean 7lber this one, but welcome all the same, as it was Nic's first canal pike believe it or not. 

The Zander didn't show sadly but it's a bit of an eye opener here, I'll be back, the fact is, as it's a very quiet stretch means these evening sessions in to dark are ideal where hopefully a decent Zed will turn up for me if put the hours in. 


  1. What a fish .. great to see them still in the canal and not on the bank as an otter plaything .

    Has this inspired you to continue your quest and shown you that indeed you are on the right path .

    1. Well I'm narrowing down the search, still rocking horse poo though, that's the issue, but yes intend to continue with it, got nothing else better to do in the close season Baz !!

    2. I wonder what it weighed pre spawning .

    3. 13 to 14lbs at a guess, Zander do seem to be full to the brim pre spawning


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