Thursday, 4 June 2015

Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.16 – No Laughing Snapper

“Wow !!!, did you catch that here” said the Aussie towpath cyclist who just happened to be passing as I was returning a small Zander to its home.

Errr no it’s the family pet and I’m just giving it a bit of exercise.…!!! FFS

Returning a Zander, you heard me say, well yes, as a non-native species Zander can certainly be an emotive subject and divide opinion…I've returned nearly all the fish I've caught, on the rare occasion I’ve had one deeply hooked, I’ve put it out of his misery to try and prevent any further suffering but as a specialist angler I return them as I want to catch them in a couple of years when they have put on some extra timber. So what’s the latest stance, this week (02.06.15) I tried to clarify the situation with the Canal and Rivers Trust and the Environmental Agency…..

The Canal and Rivers Trust said, “Zander once caught must not be returned to the water, dispose of them as you wish” the Environmental Agency said “Current UK Legislation states, it is an offence to introduce Zander in to any water without an ILFA licence (licence to keep or introduce / non-native freshwater fish)” I specifically asked about Zander that are already established and they replied “technically Zander should not be returned to the river but in some areas they are considered to be naturalised“  

I did get a much more comprehensive response from the Canal and Rivers Trust Fisheries and Angling Manager, however I will not publish it all on here, but after all the relevant communication and responses the gist of it is, as they are established and ‘naturalised’ I can return them if I so wish, however, although technically under current legislation I will be breaking the law, the reality is I can do so without fear of fine or prosecution. There appears to be some common sense over the situation, especially when you see this extract from a response by the Canal and Rivers Trust. 

"It is impossible to remove invasive and non-native fish from any riverine system and Zander are well established in the Severn and Avon now. Some of our canals like the Grand Union, Oxford and Stratford canals have a direct connection to these rivers and if it was possible to completely drain them all and remove the Zander, Zander would still be able to populate these waters again in time. It’s fair to say that these fish are here to stay."

One issue I see though is as they are still considered non-native, so there are effectively no removal limits and the relevant bylaws confirm that .So it seems those looking to take one or more for the pot are rubbing their hands, especially as they are good eating and a good commercial value.To be fair, the communication I have received has been appreciated, and within a timely response too. Apparently the Environment Agency are looking at ways to clarify it for certain waters so hopefully they can get their heads together with those concerned to make it more black and white for us anglers.At the moment it seems it's very much a grey area....

You do see some strange going's on at the cut.... luckily it my mate Simon who popped over for a natter.

Anyway back to the fishing, the Grand Union was the destination for this short evening session, it was lovely warm day with plenty of blue sky. A Headless roach on both rods, one in the deeper boat channel the other slap bang in the middle of some oxygenated water.This swim is an area of major frustration as today was the third or fourth time I've lost a big fish, the same one ? who knows but within 15 minutes of catching the first fish I had a bite and connected to a proper'un.

I'd swapped my usual 6ft rod for a 10 footer for the oxygenated swim as because of the swims elevation , the rod was bent double and it was taking some line, it started to shake it's head clear of the water and I witnessed it's huge mouth, maybe loosening the drag mid-fight wasn't a good idea as a few seconds after that, the fish was off. Replaying it back in my mind it was easily a PB beater. If I fish this swim again I might swap the bass hook for a beefier Raptor, I'm also going to bring a different landing net as half the problem is getting the fish to the smallish landing net and short handle, the swim suits a longer set-up. Was the rod too stiff and the thin gauge hook pulled under the pressure ?, it's always the questions I'm going to ask myself.

It was one of those sessions, 3 further small fish caught, 2 further lost fish that seemed to be mouthing the bait rather than taking it fully. I left as the sun went down with my tail firmly between my legs.



  1. I think it's the same old quandary, Mick. Where with other fish you might blame the sharpness of the hook and change it for a fresh one, with zander it's the pattern that we look at. My experience with the Mustad bass is that it just works brilliantly well and far better than any other pattern I ever tried , but, I never had a zander over five pounds on one. So, I really have no idea if they work so well with large specimens who have much larger jaw bones. The only thing I can suggest is upping the size to a 4/0.

    I have had plenty of double figure canal pike on them, though. The hook was always firmly lodged in the scissors of the jaw and was removed from outside by pushing down on that long shank. I had some long hard fights on my hands but the hook never failed.

    I think that fish will fall to you. Maybe there's a group of large fish there? I reckon I'd fish the spot till the bugger finally hits the net, and it will because I don;t think zander ever wise up!

    1. Jeff, like you I've not had a problem before and I've now caught two five pounders using the ultimate bass hook. This was a different animal altogether though, I've not had a rod bent like that with the drag being tested. Certainly encouraging signs that's for sure.

      I'm making a few changes though, hopefully I'll get to hook it again. This particular area does contain more larger fish that's for sure, all deadbait caught by the way, I've not caught one of the lure.

  2. Mick, I can only tell you of my experience which is with raptors size 3 and 4. Both have landed me fish up to 8lb from the river (several 6lbers also ) i have only lost one fish to a hook pull that I can recall. Jeff is more used to the bigger bass hooks from his sea fishing days so his confidence in hook choice will differ to mine. Essentially none are THE hook, they both have pro's and cons it's all down to your own confidence which will also change based on changing experience as will mine and Jeffs. (Sorry not helping much am I ? ) gutted you lost the fish though could it be THE lottery one ??

    1. I'm not sure it was a double to be honest, it was certainly not far off and I'd never had a Zander fight like that either, it gave a proper pull. I've had success using the Raptors in previous sessions after posting a comparison here.

      so as I've got a couple of packets of those left I'm planning to replace both my set-ups with those.

  3. Unlucky Mick, I'm sure your time will come, certainly putting in the effort. I did write a long comment but wouldn't sign me in, but long story short that Aussie was a god damn pollock and I hear all the time, makes you wonder how they hold down a job, relationship and avoid being admitted to the looney bin!

    1. It did make me chuckle, I'm sure he thought about what he said afterwards, well hopefully anyway. I've still a few more sessions planned so hopefully I can tempt the big-un again. I know where it resides now. I've gained experience fishing for them, that's what it's all about. Just need some luck on my side now.


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