Thursday 20 May 2021

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.207 - Bootstrappers and Bouleversements

The couple of short sessions I fished last Friday afternoon and Sunday morning was on a stretch of canal dear to me and to be honest I was really encouraged by the returns. With a session to the hallowed stretch planned where the clock wasn't against me this evening session in to dusk would at least tick that fishing fix. 

I started my canal quest here initially and picked up some cracking fish and eventually I was rewarded in that heyday with an 8lb 10oz fish as pictured in my Blog banner, and then not long after a huge Zander of 9lb graced one net. However I'd stopped fishing it over the last few years, only having a dabble here and there when time was against me.

Now last week one 300 meter stretch was full of fish, every tasty looking swim with cover produced a bite or two. Despite only fishing a few hours I was in to double figures of Zeds caught and each and everyone was a feisty fighter.

They didn't like being hooked at all, fins and fists everywhere like a hallucinating Tasmanian devil on another acid trip, despite not being that big in stature they all gave a cracking account for themselves. 

With mediocre returns at the hallowed stretch on the Saturday morning for 4 pike and a small schoolie I returned to the stretch albeit a couple of miles South of the Tefal Head and managed to catch another 4, where I also missed a few bites and had a couple of dropped runs. 

The best fish in that session was a nats nadger under 5lb which was good for this stretch even back in its heyday. The Zander rarely did break the 4lb mark here, it was usually schoolie after schoolie after schoolie and then, wham, a 7 or 8lber.


 Those fish seemed to dwindle off in numbers big time and catch rates really tailed off and those lunkers became more elusive then ever, where in the past if there was any stretch I fish that would throw up a decent fish it would be here more often than not.

Its incredibly shallow here, so shallow in-fact it was a bit of an eyeopener in lockdown with the narrowboats having to follow suit the water almost went gin clear. The roach shoals could be seen in numbers and carp well, there were plenty of them to be seen. 

The only change recently though has been the colour, it's gone back to having hardly any clarity whatsoever to proper turd turbid again, the Zeds now confident in venturing out in their habitat, just how they like it and they were now as happy as a dog with two tails, and why not !!!!, they are here in no fault of their own, for them luckily the canal is utopia where apart from the resident otter they are top dog. 

Incidentally I bumped in to an elderly gentleman who fished this canal 30-40 odd years ago and its changed dramatically in that time, it used to be clear, weedy and full of tench and most of the other species apparently, the only change the boat movement. nothing like what it's like today, seldom did he see one, if he did it was steam powered, not the oil spreading narrowboats that frequent the waterway today. 


Now there is one near 2 mile stretch on this canal that I'm sure will hold some unknown fish. The problem is with a £50 joining fee and annual subs of >£100 my pocket couldn't justify the expense despite the potential it may hold. The rivers the club has look decent to be fair but I'm unlikely to fish them.  

I could do what "one of the good guys (apparently)" did when he accidently strayed on to, sorry sneaked down to after a well planned reccy on to one of the WBAS syndicate flowing waters and became a poacher, trespasser and local lockdown rulebreaker in one foul swoop. As my Wife says, and I agree I should always "practice what I preach", so at the moment its off ones radar. 


Luckily there are still areas that I've hardly fished on this stretch and this session would be one of them.

You see I'd cover some cover so to speak to try and winkle out a Zander and then finish up at a turning bay I've never fished in anger before. A turning bay where the last time I was here a huge wake disturbed the surface where clearly a decent fish was present.


 Despite me leaving a deadbait out for a good while a bite never materialised, a carp quite possibly, or a Zed lunker ? only one way to find out. I managed a small schoolie on the last bit of cover that snaffled the small roach before heading to the turning bay where I set my stall out.

The sky was clear the wind non existent and before the sun set and dusk came there was quite a few fish topping.

Its very shallow here and a jaws like wake moving under the surface a fish around a pound or so launched itself clear of the water escaping the predator I assume. 

The floats went out illuminated by torchlight and I settled in to bat city, the movement of bats was quite incredible really with one than occasion being brushed by their wings.

An hour in to pitch black eventually the far side floats bobs and then moves from right to left when a decent bite develops.

 I tightened up but I pulled the bait out from the grasp of a small fish, Hmmmm. 

5 minutes later a huge splash to my right around 10 yards away, another carp ? I stayed longer than my intended finishing time but no further bites materialised.  So a carp sleeper rod next time ? I think I'll give it another go next week, I'm sure something big will slip up, only one way to find out. 

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