Wednesday 2 May 2018

Closed Season Canal Zander Quest PT84 – Nemophilists and Nyctophiles

It’s up and down for these cold-blooded fish at the moment, sipping a Black Russian one minute then a cup of Horlicks the next. The air temperature all over the place with the water following suit the fish can certainly be put off feeding because they like some regularity after all. If I feel cold for example, a little food, be it, a sausage roll, scotch egg or a nibble on a malted milk gets ones cockles warm again, it takes no time either, from goose bumps to comfortable within minutes, saldy these Zander haven’t the luxury.

So after scraping ones windscreen this morning I was in two minds whether I would be wasting my valuable free time and maybe wait till later in the week to fish when the temperatures would be on the up. If I look at my blog though some of the largest Zander I have caught have been when the weather has been less favorable and the water cold. You see sometimes it’s easy to work out where they are when they are likely to be laid up trying to make the best of it.

A little like the partying girls of Newcastle, all of a sudden the vest top and rara skirt didn’t seem a good idea when stepping out of the club on to the street. That’s way the sanctuary of some warm cover and a luke warm kebab suddenly appeals before heading back out in the cold again. Canal cover provides the fish with exactly that, somewhere to hold up before getting back out to annoy the other residences that share their waters.

Zander like to frequent forna and thicket, with the water cold, that’s where they can be found.

The loners or those fish hanging about in the wings are what I’m after, not those that are ruled by the playtime bell ringers. Those that have the smoking jackets donned, feet up with a large single malt, and listening to some ambient landscapes not some Goa trance. The rig I use is derived to avoid and disturbance and the only wake from the set-up is from the bait entering the water.

No wake and big disturbance to be seen here…!!!!

You see the coffin lead is lighter than the bait, the small zeppler float fished well overdepth and sits flat on the surface and doesn’t penetrate it, and the fluorocarbon leader unobtrusive. The resistance felt is so low, and the bite registration so high, it’s a great little set-up that has banked many a canal Zander now. The way I fish may well be ideal but I’ve still got to find out where the fish are holding up such the stationary positions they hold in these conditions.

It’s not rocket science either, move around, fish likely holding areas, give it 20 minutes max and if no bites are forthcoming, move on to the next swim. Now Nic from Avon Angling UK who has a Vlog on YouTube had been having some tough times on the canal with not much to show for his efforts so after a little conflab I put him on to an area where he would likely catch a Zander and sure enough he did.

To be honest if he stuck it out doing what he did he would eventually catch one anyway such the waterway he was fishing, Zander are not rare, let’s put it that way. But the offer of fishing a private stretch of the Warwickshire Avon he has access to, was something I might take him up on in the future because I’m sure I can winkle out a decent Zander especially when I could fish in to dark, which is hard to achieve on the stretches I fish.

Canal Zander are well up for feeding in the day and bright sunlight though, so much so I rarely fish in to dark on the cut, only if needs must, such as boat traffic and lock opening and closing turning a canal in to a flowing river where its got so much pace you could trot a float.

 I can count those session on one hand mind you. Unlike their nyctophile river cousins most of the canal stretches I fish are very turbid indeed and that’s a big difference, you see in low light they are top dog, in clear waters not so, as the bouncer on the door can be clearly seen.

So for PT84 of the quest we’d fish in an area I’d fished before and had Zander albeit not the biggest and also stray further away from the paths I’d trodden and fish a couple or three swims where it would a delve in to the unknown. The larger fish are transitional, I know that for certain because swims I’ve had my largest Zed’s from, haven’t produced again, certainly not reliably anyway. There are obvious hotspots I’d stumbled on, like the area I have been fishing recently, and that has produced a few fish bigger than the norm, but that find was very rare indeed and will only be shared with the likeminded and those that put in the miles and hard work like I do.

The more I fish for this intriguing species, to catch something half decent is purely down to one thing, yeap it’s a numbers game, you need to wade through the smaller fish and eventually you will be rewarded. The results thus far have been better than last closed season and one thing I said I was going to do for the continuation of the challenge was to try more area I’d not fish before because like the deep bit I’ve found, maybe I’m missing a trick. 

A fortune cookie I opened the weekend also highlighted maybe I should look at locations and stretches away from the familiar.

Now talking about missing a trick, after reading some bumph from Barrie Rickards on using smelt for Zander where he rated it above any other deadbaits to targeting Zander, I reckon since using it, it really has improved my catch rate.

The cucumber pungency with a hint of ‘fishyness’ who knows but the canal Zander really do seem to like it. I like it because I buy baits in a job-lot and separate them out in the session packs and it is very cost effective indeed. I’m sure the soft flesh helps too as since I’ve been using it I rarely use a fish now, the fish I do lose are the schoolies with eyes bigger than their bellies that don’t actually take the whole bait in to their mouths

We started at an area of cover that has produced fish in the past, a reliable spot even though nothing of note has been banked. Sure enough within 20 minutes or so the left hand float starts to dance and moves from right to left. As soon as I struck in to the fish I knew it wasn't the biggest, in-fact it turned out to be up there with the smallest Zander I've ever caught.

After leapfrogging the stretch without any interest we moved up to an area of locks that was new to me as it was for Nic. Tasty looking swims too, oxygenated water because of runoffs and also because there was far bank cover. Again despite giving the swims a good go, no fish with forthcoming.

We retraced our steps and fished where we started but with the temperature dropping once the rain had moved through, we decided to call it a day. Not the session we both wanted, but hey I know enough about Zander now that they cannot be predicted, the same place the following day may by different altogether.


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