Wednesday 10 April 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.117 – Earth Baths and Elysian Fields

Towpath mowing carnage, the aftermath all to see, a tent spotted, abandoned, disheveled, dumped , the owner given up on the off grid living? the fishing not going so well, the 4G signal non-existent, the water brown as you like, yeah I wouldn’t bother either. You see this area isn’t for the foolhardy, it deserves some respect, hence it’s seemingly forgotten in the eyes of other. However for me, I was back to where my allegiances lie, where I belong….

….like many of the other places I fish, anglers rare, the Zander stamp high, solitude box ticked.


But that knowledge doesn’t come easy, it’s time on the bank, hours spent, and this, Pt.117 of this ridiculous quest of mine goes to show just how many hours I have been spent to try and catch what is basically a rather large Hen with rather large teeth.

However every now and then something pulls harder than the humdrum and there is a glimpse of light at the end of the rather large tunnel. Now this area is on a completely different canal network to a fish of 9lb and 8lb 10oz’s I’ve managed to bank, so it just goes to show that anywhere can be home to a big canal Zander, and up and till this time last year, it was never even on one’s radar.

3 fish over 5lb, and more recently a fish going 67cm on the tape and 7lb 8oz on the scales, it’s an area that if I continue with my efforts, I’m sure it eventually will come good, and a double will grace ones net.


I had in the back of my mind that Zander populations were in decline in some of the areas I fish because of the amount of fish I’d be catching, and then out of a blue a session goes from good to mad where countless Zeds are banked, some lost, that shows they are here to stay despite the efforts of the electrode wavers and tank filler.

Over the few years I've been fishing for canal Zed's, biomass seems to have changed in some areas though quite significantly. Those bite sized ‘bait’ fish now seemingly sharing the same space with these rather interesting fish with teeth that turned up on mass on their pillaging mission . Now that might be a bit of a curve ball in ones own quest because it could well change the areas I fish yet again, because of the buffet now laid out firmly within the boat tracks table.

Big fish need feeding after all, they have hunger pangs and an appetite to quash. Areas that were off the radar, now back on….


….I’m up for it though, it the offer of solitude that other waters don’t give like some of the canals do it probably why I’m happy for the moment whatever comes along, and if a proper lunker eventually turns up, which I’m sure it will, other species may have to become the quarry. Roach and carp spring to mind. I enjoy fishing canals because others don’t , for those likeminded peace and quiet seekers what’s not to like.

So for this short after work session just short of dusk I was back at the deep bit to try and get among the bigger fish that call this area their home.

Now having fished for Zander as much as I have done I knew straight away just looking at the water it would be tough, the colour not quite right, the temperature low with a biting wind. But you have to get a bait in the water for that hunch to be confirmed. The productive bit of cover for the bigger fish was dead, no bites within an hour or so after leapfrogging the section. It didn't help that two boats had come through at the same time and stirred up the already debris ridden surface.

The water didn't settle after that going back and fourth making fishing difficult. So after moving to an entirely different section of cover, shallower and also where there are some tree roots in the area, I decided to give this 45 minutes or so. If there is a Zander laying up then usually bites come quick and this was no exception, within a couple of minutes the left hand float was being dragged under an overhanging bush. Sadly a small fish I think as it released its grasp on the small roach deadbait.

Nothing more doing in that swim so I decided to fish above the deeper swims right in the track where the surface was clear, hoping to intercept an fish moving through. This decision was well worth it, as a bite came quite quick on smelt and a Zed was on. After the first pull I knew it was a small fish, the smallest for a while I think. Yeap a small schoolie not preoccupied in getting in to the spawning mood like its older relatives. 

I returned to the deep section for the last half an hour and whilst minding my own business a dog walker with a rather large pointer off the lead didn't like that I was there. Some rather loud menacing  barking which for someone who doesn't particularly like dogs and I'm always on the look out for dogs when out in public as my eldest son Ben who has an irrational fear of them, was quite unnerving. A few words were met with an apology and we had an interesting chat after he asked if I was after Zander as he was a fellow fisherman.


A very nice dog with a decent temperament despite the initial introduction but he lived locally and walked the towpath most days. A pair of Otters in residence (there's a suprise) and confirmed also the presence of carp, and some decent ones as well. I ended up getting back later than planned but it meant my baits were out longer than anticipated. Sadly no more bites, it's certainly tough out but I'm back out again Thursday evening to try and drop on a fish like I did today, this time I'm hoping for something much bigger.

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