Monday, 15 June 2015

Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.19 – Balls Deep, Bladderation, & Baragnosis

For this 19th and (possible) final Zander Quest session of the closed season I was at a stretch of the Stratford-Upon-Avon canal I’m going to revisit again if ever the river is over its banks. Before the boats start churning up the bottom it is by far clearer than any stretch I’d fished before, there was some decent bank cover too which gave the area some much needed interest. I’d overlooked this area to be honest, accessibility isn’t the easiest and the boat traffic can be a bit of a nightmare. However due to the improved clarity and the likelihood of more bait fish for the Zander to feed on, I’m thinking an evening session or two might be worthwhile which will ultimately start the Quest all over again. I started it, so at some stage whenever that is, it must be concluded. I’m crossing my fingers for a welcome surprise.

Talking of surprises, blimey, you do see some odd things down the cut, don’t that let it put you off from fishing it though, it can be an eye-opener, it all adds to the appeal.

‘That’s a bit odd an attractive lady dressed up to the nines with full slap on and in a flowery dress, meandering past with a suited and booted male ‘friend’ walking the same undulated dog poo tainted canal towpath as I, in the middle of bleeding nowhere. Hmmmm, ok 

Hang on a minute; look at that clearly in view, they’re both clambering over that gate, opposite the bridge, very unladylike. What’s over there then, well not a fat lot, nice and secluded though if you’re actively seeking some privacy. Sure enough, 15 minutes later, they are returning from where they came (ask them, not me), she looking a bit dishevelled and flustered, he with a beaming smile and jacketless.’

The Jammy Git…, then again he ain’t fishing for Zander like me, he clearly doesn’t know what he is missing…

I had was aimed to get another session in Monday evening before the new river season is with us but it depended on my restraint over the weekend, the 20th Zander session would be a reasonable achievement but I’ve an issue. These days the after-effects of a night on the pop and subsequent bladderation my recovery time (age probably) is debilitating. Gone are the days when I could drink for 2 weeks solid, mix my drinks, drink countless shots and still be reasonably compos-mentis the following day. It now takes me a good few hours in the morning or even the entire day to feel good enough to go fishing. I don’t like not drinking when others are though, it just doesn’t feel right; so this could well be my final session for sometime on the cut.

Changing subject a tad, I does amaze me some of the pictures you see in the angling press where clearly the fish is nowhere near the stated weight, maybe they didn’t have any scales so decided to guess and add on a 50% safety factor, but some of the pictures and weights do make me chuckle, what’s the point? You’re only kidding yourself. Last weekend a couple of camo’d up elderly chaps who were fishing the cut from within a local hostelry beer garden caught a half Perch on a small deadbait. I’d have put it at no more than a 1lb and half, and yet it was apparently well over 2lb, getting on for 2 and half.

Now those that have caught and weighed a Perch over 2lb, they really are impressive fish in the flesh, they look huge. Maybe this is possibly a problem with Zander fishing, word of mouth, a twisting of the story and Chinese whispers you have a canal system with plenty of double figure fish, is there really? you only have to look at the amount of towpath trampling over the years the Midland bloggers have given in the Quest for cut double to see that they’re as rare as rocking horse poo. I’m planning to continue on with the challenge though albeit without the dedication and single-mindedness as those that I trust have say they do exist, and that’s good enough for me. I always take scales with me, why make a guess? there is no need.

A classic case happened a couple of years ago where a supposed 18lb Ashby canal Zander featured heavily in the angling press because the fish was killed and eaten by the captures, all very embarrassing and a tragic story, please hold your heads in shame. What were they thinking FFS…? Then again as a match angler caught it, sadly it was on borrowed time but you would have thought they would have put the 9lb specimen back for specialist anglers like me to catch, I still cannot fathom why they did it.

There is another species of fish I intend to target here but for this session it was the much loved Zander, I wanted to cover as much towpath as possible so I travelled light for this session, net, lure rod and small waist bag.

Was this an area I’d overlooked ?

What I’ve started to do now is when walking from one area to another is drop the lure into the margins and walk slowly, especially when it’s clearer than the norm. It didn’t take long for the first fish either. You can tend to tell a Zander and Pike bite because of the feel through the braid, this was no sharp bang but a lazy progressive take. The fish was slugging it out not going on a mental run and sure enough a Pike took a liking to the firetiger shad, a half decent fight and the fat 5lber was in the landing net. It was as slimy as Danny’s Eel for some reason, and had distinct colouring, the net is overdue a much needed jet wash. The eel slime is something else.

No further fish for another 3 hours or so but then a tasty looking lock with oxygenated water produced a couple of small Zander on the cannibal coloured shad. Not a hugely productive session and due to weekend excesses, yes I don’t feel the best I’ve now concluded this Zander Quest. I’m going to give the same dedication in the next closed season though as I’ve enjoyed it immensely. I’ve certainly gained a huge amount of knowledge from it and hopefully will put me a better position to catch that elusive double next season.

Now I just need to catch a river Zander....anyone fancy an evening session at the Mill ?


  1. Thoroughly enjoyed your zander quest, been following it all closed season and was willing you to get the double. Next year's closed season then...

    1. Brian I'm already planning next years quest, I had really enjoyed it.


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