Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Wednesday 31 May 2017

Closed Season Zander Quest PT67 – Shaggers, Shysters and Shoalers

So this was the final session of my closed season Zander quest, sadly despite making some significant progress the previous year where some near double fish were caught, this season couldn’t have been any different.

A massive disappointment on the whole but I’ve decided to continue on the quest and give it another bash again in 2018.

I don’t know where I’ve gone wrong either, as there just hasn’t been any big fish banked and hardly any signs some were lurking either.

I’ve travelled around a little too and also fished extensively a two mile stretch that was home to my PB of 9lb another good fish at 8lb 10oz and also a 7 lber. There are nice fish to be had on the stretch that’s for sure and the only saving grave I suppose was witnessing a large fish come up in the water on the retrieval of a deadbait and it came to enquire.

So they are there that’s for sure….

Thing is I’ve found with this Zander fishing lark, schoolies really are ten a penny, the large fish, very rare indeed. They are the proverbial needle in a haystack.

With so much water to cover the haystack just seems to get bigger and BIGer and BIGGER.

The more time I spend on canals though it just makes me appreciate them more and more. Certainly my neck of the woods anglers really are very rare indeed, so I more or less have the local stretches to fish exclusively which is nice. Also if I eventually bag a double I might switch to trying to capture a canal 20lb carp as the more time I spend on the cut I’ve realised stay mobile, find the fish and some big ones could we grace ones net.

The problem is I felt this season I’d do it and yet it was polar opposite, I’ve gone backwards.

Whilst the floats have remained motionless some of the highlights have been a women jogger with a backside to rival Kylies, some great twitching and wildlife spotting opportunities, spawning Zander ,a party boat that crashed in to a tree in spectacular fashion and last week a group of carp without a care in the world parading right in front of me.

Now another thing I’ve grown to appreciate is the way these Zander move around in obviously large shoals, an hour float static and then the turn up, switch on and multiple runs are had, multiple fish caught. Not the biggest fish usually but some cracking sport from turbid waters most people think wouldn’t even contain any fish.

But that’s how I like it, solitude is the key for my fishing and canals offer that on the most part. Sometimes boats on certain sections can be frequent but usually I can go a full 4 or 5 hour session without seeing a single one.

Now this last session I wanted to see if the carp were back in residence so a sleeper rod was in the margins over a load of dead maggots and floats tight to some cover. 2 hours in I was due for a move but then the right hand float goes and a pack had turned up.

Multiple runs, multiple fish, 8 or 9 fish banked in an hour and no bites missed.

Biggest, a waspers dream, a rod bending 2lb 8oz'er. Carp rod, not a bleep.

I use size 1 Sakuma Manta offset hooks with the barb crushed and despite Zander often doing a perch trick of properly swallowing the bait this season I’ve not had to put any out of their misery.

The set-up I use is so tried and trusted too, no point dabbling in anything else. The overdepth float set-up registering any interest with superb amplification.

Now talking about amplification, I’m not talking about many anglers who like to overegg their fish but I’ve now using larger baits than ever and certainly my catch rates have improved, albeit not the size of the fish I’m after.

So what will I do different next season to reverse the trend, well a few things really.

Apart from fishing the familiar because I know I’ve been unlucky not banking other than the humdrum there is another area that has been on my radar for some time that I’ve never fished in angler despite knowing it has potential.

Heck I might even make the trip to the Gloucester and Sharpness, anyone up for joining me ?

Also when the river is in flood particularly in the winter months I’d continue the quest as certainly the colder for better if I’m to back a double figure fish. I just find the colder weather more productive. Maybe the big Zander are holdings station and drop a bait in its locality it will find it.

It’s those likely holding areas that I’m now starting to work out, I’m sure as I’ve said before, I’m sure I’ve just been unlucky.

So, till the next time, the quest continues….

Monday 29 May 2017

Closed Season Zander Quest PT66 – Blimey O'Slimey

A bit of break from the cut for this session and it was on a secret lake with Danny that apparently held some good eels. 

Not only that but there maybe some hidden gems judging by how the morning panned out.It was a reccy session for both of us and I’m sure we will be back again this time with some knowledge gained.

I managed to bank one at 1lb 1oz on lobworm for a few challenge points but also gave me a little time to contemplate how I am going to tackle my last Zander session of the closed season.

Rig was a JS style, with a couple of lobworms. Another angler who was present lost a couple of eels so certainly encouraging signs.

Friday 26 May 2017

Closed Season Zander Quest PT65 – Mother Suckers and Slangwhangers

The welcome Martin and I received wasn’t very nice to be honest, straight on the attack for having the cheek to use the adjacent and empty pub car park.

I’d just opened my boot FFS.

If Nora Batty cared to ask before getting on her high horse she would have realised we intended to have a pint of warm ale and a cold cider anyway.

How about approaching it differently, 'hey chaps, hope you catch the fish you're after, we have some nice ales in here if you fancy popping in when you have five minutes'

Now this establishment is off our dining radar as some time ago they refused to serve just two kids meals as we and the Wife were as ‘adults’ dining later on and only wanted a drink.The kids were peckish and with Ben the way he is we had no choice to appease these clowns and order a one adult meal and ones kid’s meal and whilst the kids troughed up vowed to never set foot in this apparent public service hostelry.

A business model not to be followed, the décor straight out of Phoenix Nights.

The food, well, another reason why I couldn’t go back, I’ve had better meals at Warwick Hospital.

So f**k’um, excuse my French, they will not get any more of my hard earned money especially when in the locality luckily this isn't the norm. I’d found alternative parking though and if there is an outside chance of a decent Zander, then it was worth slumming it.

Problem was with all this sunshine we are bathing in at the minute, I'd be fishing over from the beer drinkers, I suppose at least being outside you can avoid the sticky carpets.I like solitude when I'm fishing so it would have to wait till a morning session where I'd be on my tod, or maybe wait till a cold evening. I'm running out of time though on this continued quest. In fact probably only one or two sessions left.

Bait, well the Lamprey seemed to be the Mother of all Suckers last weekend and the Zander were properly on it, so for this short evening session I upped the bait size and intended to fish two 4 or 5 inch sections under my usual over depth float set-up.

The lure rod, a crayfish replicant slowly teased across the shallow bottom.

Now the sun was beating down and I knew it would be tough, you see I've found colder the better for Zander and they can switch off completely depending on the mood they are in.

Talking about moods, well we all know carp revel in warmer waters and about 2 hours in to the 3 hour session I saw a disturbance in the margins that was getting closer and closer. I walked to the moving wake and sure enough a rather large group of carp were headed my way.

I walked next to them for a bit, probably 10 plus fish with the biggest over 15lb and they didn't seem to have a care in the world. Like the zander they ignored the lamprey but got me thinking about I really need to catch a double figure canal Zander as I'd like to target the carp here. Later on a couple of doubles were patrolling the margins like their lake dwelling cousins and despite me being in close proximity they didn't seem to mind.

It was really nice to see, at least the evening wasn't wasted.

So another Zander blank though, and I'm running out of time....

Monday 22 May 2017

Closed Season Zander Quest PT64 – Clupeidae and Petromyzontiformes

With only a few sessions remaining of my Double Figure Zander Quest before my mind wanders to flowing water and how I will start the new season, I had a quick review of my blog posts and it really highlighted what a poor closed season it’s been for me.

I made some proper good strides last year with quite a few decent fish caught with the biggest a 9lb’er and I really thought I’d manage some nice fish again this year.

It’s just not happened for me and I cannot put my finger on it.

I don’t want to fish the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal just yet as it’s outside of my jurisdiction and not my patch but it’s testing all ones resolve. I’ve kept a media eye on this stretch of canal and there does seem to be some very big Zander being caught from time to time.

If you don’t know much about this canal, have a butchers on Google earth, it’s nothing like other navigation's.

The canal opened in 1827 to bypass a particularly treacherous stretch of the River Severn below Gloucester. Now it was for sea going ships so you can only imagine the size it would have to be.

It’s on a scale as a regular cut angler cannot comprehend.

Just look at some of the stats….

86ft wide, 18ft deep and could take crafts of 190ft long and 29ft wide.

You can see why big Zander like it here, they have room to stretch. No doubt bigger means more fish and if you look at what is being caught other fish are getting bigger too.

Big Carp, Big bream, you name it.

The thing is I would feel like I’m doing myself a disservice, after all I’ve proved there are some nice fish to be caught in Warwickshire and Bards country and I don’t need to travel an hour and a bit to catch something that needs the proper scales.

It boils down to I want to catch one on my doorstep, in ones postcode.

The river season cannot come soon enough though as I’m being tested at the minute, seriously it would have broken a lesser man. After catching the umpteenth ten a penny Zander for the float to dip and another one wants to play, it can feel like getting kicked in the knackers time after time and another go for good measure.

So a few sessions left and I’ll continue the quest next year.

So on to this session, it was back to the drudgery. A visit to the tackle shop the freezer was a baron as mine, so with some lamprey and some herring added to the Tesco order, I was hoping this was the Michelin Star the bigger females were after. I've never used herring before but no reason why is wouldn't catch Zander I suppose, be nice to try it out anyway. I also had some lamprey though and I've caught Zander on that before, both tainted with some predator plus liquid.

I wanted to cover and area of thicket that was been largely ignored, it needs to be fish now too as the banks grow so quick now they become very overgrown and difficult to fish.

Leapfrogging is the key here and within minutes I had a run on the herring but premature on the strike the fish felt resistance and dropped the bait.

They were on the feed that's for sure and quickly found the bet as it sat on the bed. The biggest fish of 3lb 8oz came as a nearby lock was opened and the lamprey section drifted out of position. Zander hunt on sight after all and the movement must have stirred it's predatory senses.

One fish caught on herring but it was clear that Lamprey was the order of the day.

9 fish banked, runs missed.

Not a bad morning, sadly the big ones elusive as ever.

Friday 19 May 2017

Closed Season Zander Quest PT63 – Boustrophedons and Bumpershoots

It’s been rather unsettled of this week, mild, rain in spells and rather unpredictable, a little like this Zander quest of mine which for this closed season has been disappointing to say the least.

What is not unpredictable though is how I have been approaching it, a rather boustrophedon manner when a pattern form in covering a water with a bait to maximise any chances of finding fish.

I’m an engineer after all…. 

Last weekend I was at a friend’s wedding in sunny Falmouth and it turned in to a couple of days of bladderation, in moderation of course, but with the long drive and lack of sleep the start of the week I was proper knackered.

The venue in Falmouth had a private beach and extensive exotically stocked gardens so a stroll to the beach and then uphill back numerous times, decent footsteps were covered so I barely had time to put my feet up despite the fact we were kid less for the weekend.

I’m 45 this year remember, so my battered bones because of the uphill paper round take ever increasing time to recover these days, but one thing fishing is good for is relaxing, so it doesn’t need the 4 or 5 miles I often cover over a 5 hour session but you can take a more static approach.

So for this short evening session some nice thicket provided a much needed umbrella for likely light rain but for something different I’d also fish a lure to see if the milder water would have the fish, if in residence this, a little more active than they have been. Also I wanted to fish this one particular area of cover to see if I could spot some carp that sometimes hang about here.

I’d hooked and lost a couple the previous year, and not only would they be bigger now but I’d be more prepared and in fact because of the disappointing quest thus far I might even dedicate a remaining session or two for them.

To be honest, as I’ve said a few times recently it’s testing my resolve. The bloggers species challenge, a forgotten pursuit.

Bait for this session, not my favoured roach sections but whole small roach, the dregs of the bait freezer and then a sleeper rod out for carp that I know habit this area.

As you know I plan my session and this one was no different, what I didn’t factor in to the mix though was a three rod carper was sat in the swim I wanted to fish so it meant after a few pleasantries I was on the march again.

I know this area well though so after probably near a mile I’m eventually fishing.

Nearly two hours in open water and biteless I’m on my way again.

The section of cover has some carp so a handful of pellets with a snowman rig over the top and a deadbaits tight to some cover it was stand back and wait, this time the heavens opened and I’ve taken shelter.

Not long after the sleeper rod starts to have the odd beep and sure enough something is making the rod top bang. I thought it was a bream at first because a carp would have screamed off but after striking in to the fish it became clear, it was a bleeding Zander. 

Obviously hungry then….

I moved up the cover and the same was done, deadbaits tight to cover, sleeper in a nice cut out in the thicket.

This time the float starts to move after a few minutes.

As expected for my quest for this closed season, another splasher.

I’ve had a enough by now, South Indian prawn curry and a couple of beers are in order.
I’m out Sunday somewhere, decisions decisions.

Thursday 11 May 2017

Closed Season Zander Quest PT62 – Fat Females, Feast and Famine

I usually turn right, today I turned left….

It’s an area I’d fished before but after a few blank sessions it vanished off my radar but then the last time here there were Zander, in numbers too.

A spawn filled female, albeit a youngster and starry-eyed hormone riddled males….

They were aggressive as well giving me a right doing over when a few were caught, pound for pound they were Ricky Hatton in his early days.

Lean and mean, full of beans….

I was here to try and see if like Ricky, their gloves were in storage and they were on the kebabs, pizza’s and pies.

Remember Ricky lost 5 stone, (yes really) for his comeback fight against Vyacheslav Senchenko after his 2nd round loss to Manny Pacquiao where he weighed in at 10 stone 5 lb’s. He lost in the 9th after a proper good kidney punch and couldn’t recover and that was the end of him as a boxer but like Hatton I’ve found with these Zander, they do like their food.

Then again don’t we all….

A little like the newlywed bride with the ring on her finger, even relatively small framed fish can pack on the poundage, and quickly too….

But the truth is, a little like the Fatty Arbuckles nights out in Coventry, it was the more fuller figured females I was searching for with modesty a forgotten trait. Come winter will save a fortune on heating bills, but not only that be they are the only way I’m going to conclude my Quest for a cut double.

There was a frost on my windscreen in the morning so the water would have been relatively cold overnight but the day was pleasant with much sunshine and bit like us humans the sun gets us off that couch and gets us moving.

The was a short 2 hour after work session and with a busy weekend where fishing wouldn’t feature it needed to count.

My bait fridge was rather sparse so bait for this session was small really old and rather manky looking whole roach rather than the sections I use. After an hour and a half with baits positioned and lure here and there I was biteless but then the right hand rod started to move and a bite developed.

As soon as I struck in to the fish I knew it wasn't a tiny splasher but still not what I'm after, it was soon netted and weighed 2lb 13oz's. With it still in the net the other float starts to move and a fish was on. This time the ten a penny schoolie which is the norm when I started the quest in anger again. I assume a pack moved in like they do.

20 minutes left, no more bites at least it was a few more points earned.

Monday 8 May 2017

Closed Season Zander Quest PT61 – Alongside the Jörmungandr

So the Bloggers Challenge has kicked-in and points are being registered on the score board but for me, my mind is elsewhere, the river is my thing you see and that’s where my allegiances will lie when the 15th of June comes around, so I’ve only got the option of continuing on with my cut double. 

I might have a dabble for a Chub in the cut mind you after a chin wag in the local tackle shop but this is another full on Zander session. For this one I was positioned slap bang in the middle of the 2 mile stretch between the Tefal head and the Laryngeal prominence adjacent to the Jörmungandr.

My usual haunts seem to have far less Zander than last closed season that’s for sure , it’s very noticeable looking at my blog posts this time last year.

Sessions are much tougher, far less Zander being caught and plenty of banks. A few theories’ I have within one’s mind got me thinking about maybe trying somewhere where I’ve previously overlooked.

I’d not fished her in anger before, just maybe a lure here or there but not sure why really as, ok, the far bank cover is less consistent but there is still feature in abundance that I’m sure will be home to some Zander, hopefully the odd larger ones at that.

The stretch is eerily quiet, sees little foot traffic, barges occasionally yes, but not as prevalent as some stretches I fish.

What I like though, it probably hasn’t seen many or even any anglers apart from oneself recently which I’m sure is a plus point when targeting these transient fish.

Another change apart from the usual deadbait set-up was that the lure rod would be donned with a crayfish replicant. I’d had a dabble with these before with the odd nibble to show for it but not tried them for Zander.

It was nice and quiet on the canal for this session and deadbaits were left a little longer than I usually do. An inquiry quite early on a fish was on but like a lot of Zander bites, it was a schoolie nibbling at the bait and probably let go when it felt some resistance.

The 2nd swim produced the first fish on deadbait 1lb 13oz's,

A <2lb fish seems to be the stamp of these canal Zander and like me other find much larger fish to come by. The next fish was exactly that 2oz's bigger and caught on the crayfish lure.

I'd considered swapping lure because it was getting snagged quite a bit and bringing up dead leaves and sticks but I persevered with it and a fish was caught.

I might give it a go on a clear river for something different too.

2 more schoolies it was time to venture back, these canal Zander are everywhere it seems.

Large one elusive as ever.

Thursday 4 May 2017

Closed Season Zander Quest PT60 – Kim Kardashian’s Butt and the Glory Hunter

Oh for this age of social media….

Last week Kim Kardashian apparently lost 100,000 Instagram followers following a huge backlash over the un-airbrushed butt pictures that had taken the internet by storm. While some think the paparazzi shots might have been set up to generate even more publicity for the reality ‘star’, others have said the pictures are a clear sign she’s been photoshopping all her images over the years to create an unrealistic picture of herself.

The pictures in question were taken on a recent trip to Mexico and show Kim with cellulite on her world-famous backside.

Not seen it yet ? don’t, you’re not missing much.

You see apparently it is unusual to see her looking anything but completely flawless, and the pictures have led fans to accuse her of ‘being fake’ and ‘misleading’ them.

Given she is one of the most followed celebrities in the world with almost 100 million followers (WTF !!), losing 100,000 isn’t even going to make a dent - but it does suggest her social media crown could be slipping.

Now I work with car designers who use photoshop in anger and they could easily edit one of my fishing pictures and turn a 6 pound Zander in to a 12 pounder, heck they could even add a couple of extra teeth and some stripes for good measure.

What is difficult to photoshop is a video mind you and something that popped up the other day on one of my YouTube subscriptions that triggered something in the back of my mind, I’d seen the chap featured in the video in an article in one of the angling magazines as he had spent two nights chasing the ‘one that got away’. Apparently he had returned to the same swim to bank a double figure Zander.

It certainly looked a good fish, nice and long but the background picture meant it could have been caught anywhere on the canal until I saw the said video that is, and the location was revealed in all its glory.

To be honest, not sure why, but its somewhere I'd not fished in anger before, this would be my third short session here. First session a foul hooked bream, the second a few small schoolies.

I wouldn’t have done that personally having spent an obscene amount of time fishing for a double if I do eventually catch one, its location will remain with the few.

Then again having fished swims time after time where I's have caught the 9lber and PB and the 8lb 10oz fat fish in my title picture, they don't hang about these larger canal Zander.

So for this session and the 60th Quest session I’ve decided to piggy back someone’s good fortune and fish the same location.

A full on Gory Hunter….

Now Martin was already bankside when I got there, boot open and.....

Then Nora Batty turns up from the neighbouring pub

"You do know you cannot park here"

"What even if we buy a pint...?"

"So you're going to buy one then ?, we've been open half an hour"

"I was waiting for Mick to turn up, Mick, so what do you want then?"

"A pale ale please matey"

So pints bought, we re-located on the other side where we sat next to an other angler who had just set-up. He had two rods on bite alarms and was also using a lure rod.

Like a lot of swims I fish for Zander, suddenly they switch on. Didn't really happen mind you, with baits moved around Martin managed a tiny schoolie, the other angler a couple or three small fish. All very poor.

But then I've found fish the next day and the results could be entirely different.There were fish moving around, bream most probably. The Zander suspicious in their absence.

On to the next one then....

Monday 1 May 2017

Closed Season Zander Quest PT59 – Shunamitism and the Scobblerlotcher

Sat at his desk twiddling his thumbs my mate really needs a hobby, the move from Coventry to the outskirts of Leamington his plan was to get a dog, walk the mutt everyday and then to seek some solitude away from the raucous kids by frequenting a public house that welcomes not just him with a warm pint of ale and a chat, but also the pooper with a water bowl and a bucket of doggy chews.

After buying a dog for some reason it lasted a couple of weeks and the scobblerlotcher went back to his old ways of making up excuses, hardly leaving the house and eventually fell back in to his usual routine of propping up the kichen with a beer watching the world go by.

To be honest it didn’t help that the pubs in walking distance were not dog friendly, whoops !!!

I did suggest a dabble in shunamitism to revitalise his youth but there is that obvious problem of being married, yeap he needs something else to occupy his mind.

“You need to find something that that the Wife had no interest it “

“What, like SEX !!!!”

“hahaha, nope what about fishing ?, it’s a great hobby”

“Errr, no thanks, I’d rather have all my teeth pulled…without anesthetic…by a blind dentist…armed only with a wooden spoon”

The thing is this pastime of ours is hard to portray and describe to those that cannot see the appeal, after all, sometimes it better that they don’t know as to keep it to ourselves.

Don’t want just anybody enjoying what we do now do we….mind clear, ones subconscious dormant.

This session was to merely enjoy the much needed detachment and solitariness to keep one sane and mind refreshed, I was back to an area that I’m sure makes up one of the transitional routes of these big old canal Zander.

I’d caught a 8lb 10oz fish not far from here and I know of another big fish caught not so far away so for this short evening session I was to spend some time fishing this stretch, leapfrogging again, cover and once in a while the channel.

Now the Blogger's 2017 / 2018 Challenge started today with the highlight so far a pictures of Russ's proud looking Cock but for me it was start in anger when the river season starts, but then a family holiday and with the Wife on a Hen Do the weekend we get back it might start later than I hoped. It's going to give me a nice diversion from targeting Zander because at the moment I'm schoolied out.

This session was a little different mind you, well not even any bites on lure or dead so even a schoolie wasn't caught. A weird day weather wise, wonder if it put the fish off.

A big fat blank.

Wednesday I might have company and having fished the same spot recently, it's a guaranteed area for some much needed points that's for sure.
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