Monday, 26 November 2018

‘Not quite the’ Closed Season Zander Quest Pt.101 – Hind-legs and Hulver-heads

This canal double figure Zander quest of mine I’ve on the whole, limited myself to fishing in the closed season and that may well be a hindrance for me, if I’m ever to complete the challenge and close the chapter and book on the ever increasing autobiography.

With the rivers being out of bounds during that time, naturally that was going to happen I suppose. Around this time of year however with the rivers being a bit pants and the weather getting colder, my mind switches to other species to fish for. You see I’ve found when the temperature drops like it has done the last week or so, it’s well worth giving the canal Zeds a go, because not only have I missed fishing for them, but the larger fish really do start to show themselves to get their winter coat on.

Now to coincide with this short morning session, I also wanted to try some new inline dumpy slider floats I’d spotted from PikePro. They looked an idea size to replace the ever faithful Drennan Zepplers, but it was the size of the fluoro-orange colour top that sparked my interest, but not only that, the float is ridiculously light for its relative compact size.

I’ve explained before how I rig up my overdepth set-up for fishing the local canals and it goes like this…

A float stop, white bead, small inline float, coffin lead, quickchange buffer bead, 18lb fluorocarbon hooklink with a Size 1 offset Sakuma Manta with barb flattened. Bait well roach or smelt for me, in-fact smelt was a bit of a revelation this year I must admit.

Canal Zander despite what you read, don’t have an issue with resistance, far from it as they will happily drag a baited big hook and a float without any problem whatsoever. There are often missed bites when you start fishing for them and that is usually because either it’s a tiny schoolie with eyes bigger than its belly and it cannot quite get the bait down, or the hook which, took me sometime to be happy with, isn’t quite getting a good hold in their bony mouths.

If you experience missed bites or dropped takes, fish a tiny section of fish, no bigger than an inch and that might well bring a bend in the rod from the small fish and give you some confidence in the rig you’re using. Lures no doubt bring more fish to the net, but having fished lures exclusively, lures and deadbait, and just deadbait, all the bigger Zed’s I’ve caught >5lb have been on deadbaits.

Whether they get lazy in their old age, who knows, but an easy meal when you stumble upon them is hard for them to refuse, a lure they often would ignore more often than not. You see these bigger canal Zed’s and I’m talking proper fish, not ones weighed by the calibrated eye are more scarce than the digits on Scary Spice’s bank statement.

But they are there to be caught, because having them up to 9lb now and > 70cm's I’m sure one is just a deadbait cast away. The problem for my challenge is I had a purple patch quite early in the challenge and since then my results haven’t been anything to write home about.

There was a small glimmer of home last closed season though where I stumbled upon ‘the deep bit’ where some nice fish were caught, reinvigorating my interest in continuing with it, till that elusive double will eventually grace my net.

The Tactics I’ve written about before on how I approach it and it is, if you’re not getting bites within fifteen or twenty minutes or so it’s time to move. Leapfrog sections of cover, fish as much of the canal network as you can, and like me that has led me to fish short sections where I know I’m likely to stumble on to a bigger fish.

The issue is these bigger Zed’s especially don’t hang around, they are transient fish moving to where they feel comfortable, moving to where they can feed their bellies.

So the session then, how did I fair…. ?

Well I can usually tell how it would pan out by the colour of the water, and it wasn't good, at least a couple of feet or more of visibility which means a tough session is in the cards. I prefer chocolate brown given the choice. So after leapfrogging a section of cover without a bite I decided to upsticks to a shallower area but with thick cover.

The was a change with doing as within minutes I had the first bite, the problem was as soon as I struck in to the fish I could see that it was small by its flanks and also that it hadn't got its jaws round the big bait properly. The bait went back out but no more bites, hmmmm. Now 3 hours in to the session I did wonder if it was worth for the last hour going to another location altogether but the first narrowboat was on the way and that usually changes the water for the better.

It stirs the bottom up which not only can shift the fish up from laying up off the bottom but often can send them out on the hunt. I decided to follow the boat down to the original deeper swim and sit it out for the last hour. Sure enough after it went past the swim turned in to a brown swirly mess I put the baits out and within 10 minutes I had a bite.

This time though I connected properly to the fish and knew I'd land it, it was a small schoolie though and dragged the new float without an issue but I felt the new float set-up wasn't as finessed as my usual attack. It felt a little cumbersome, and over kill I suppose. So the float will be resigned for Pike I think.

So with the small fish in the net and unhooked the bait went back out and as can often happen another bite comes pretty quick. This time though it was the other rod that had the bite however this time I was a little premature on the strike and again, I felt a small fish but it quicky came off. I wasn't happy with the float to changed it to my usual zeppler float and the baits were left for another half an hour without any disturbance.

With time now up, it was a difficult session, but like many Zander sessions now and the experience I've gained that the way they can go, the conditions have to be favorable and they were not today.


  1. I got some slim inline floats from my local Range store in Kidderminster .perfect for the style of fishing you are doing .

  2. Know the stretch your fishing not nearly as productive as it once was .but it does throw up some decent fish from time to
    Time .I like you would love a canal double but they are very few and far between ,the only one I have seen was caught by my mate Kalo at Hatton locks about 5 years ago .he hooked one even bigger but it came off .story of my own fishing I have hooked them but never landed one ,biggest 9 lbs 11 ounces ten years ago .had them from the severn but a large canal fish still eludes me I like you know they are there ,spurs me on been trying for many years still no joy .close I can feel it ,lost a big one on a lure not long ago .keeps me going .p.s. love the blog


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