Friday 7 June 2019

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.137 – Slagroom and Stroopwafels

Whilst I was enjoying the remainder of  evening sun with a nice cup of tea and a Stroopwafel I was looking at ones sorry looking Gnome without his hook, when thoughts turned to where I should continue on one’s quest for a canal double.

The last number of weeks have been very tough indeed though with lots of lean fish, with the odd chunk, but if I look at the fish caught during this year’s sessions I’ve not done ‘that’ bad. A fish of 7lb 8oz the best, but 4 other fish over 5lb if I look back at my blog.

Now if you didn’t know Stroopwafels are one of the world's best, and most sorely underrated biscuits. These Dutch concoctions consist of a thin layer of caramel-like syrup sandwiched between two wafers. They originated from Gouda in the Netherlands (better known for its eponymous cheese).

The stiff dough for the waffles is made from flour, butter, brown sugar, yeast, milk, and eggs. Medium-sized balls of dough are put into a heated waffle iron and pressed into the required uniformly thin, round shape.

After the waffle has been baked, and while it is still warm, it is split into thin layered halves. The warm filling, made from syrup, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon, is spread between the waffle halves, gluing them together.

I haven’t much of a sweet tooth but as these Stroopwafels are meant to be eaten with coffee or tea, and that’s where it appealed to me you see.

After making a brew, the traditional way of eating them is to put the round disc on top of your mug and let the steam soften it for a couple of minutes and jobs a good’un. If you wan't something even more indulgent, whack on some whipped cream.

Having being introduced to them, they are very moreish indeed, give them a go !!!!

The steam heats the biscuit and melts the inside layer so that it's warm and gooey. If you can't wait that long, stroopwafels are great from straight from the package, too, oh and by the way, you can get them in your local Tesco.

What you cannot get in your local Tesco though is smelt, another delicacy for the Dutch in times gone by, but also for the Zander, as both fish inhabit their waters legitimately. The smelt is a tiny fish which can be found in the coastal waters from the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the Bay of Biscay. The fish is also known by its Latin name, which is Osmerus eperlanus.

The last one I caught, very lean indeed, and seems to be more the norm.
Smelt used to swim in and out of the Zuiderzee to spawn, the Zuiderzee was a shallow bay of the North Sea in the northwest of the Netherlands, extending about 60 miles inland and at most 30 miles wide. However, since the construction of the Closure Dike the fish are no longer able to swim back and forth. As a result there are now two types of smelt. The first type is called ‘inland smelt’, which does not go to the sea anymore, and the second type is called ‘marine smelt’.

I buy smelt deads in bulk, separate them out in to session bags and they have proved a reliable bait in my armoury to catch Zander.

The weather has been a mixed bag of late with plenty of rain showers, however I saw a window of opportunity to go and fish a big body of water where a good double had been caught from in the past.

This would be a session in to dusk and as its deep here I’d also fish a big enticing lure to try and get a waiting fish to act on his aggression, if it wasn’t up for a deadbait. So a sleeper rod with a smelt would be moved in and around the swim to try and drop it on a fish.

I could well be spreading myself too thin because this area is the furthest I travel to fish for Zander. The reality is though, a quest concluder has been caught here and my local waters have been a little off of late, so I’d nothing to lose.

Best laid plans and all that, how did it go ?

Well I got there around 7.30pm and a boat came through soon after. The water going from pedestrian to turbulent within a few seconds. A few nips on the lure I knew the swim had some small fish in situ and soon after the boat went through the first bite came.

This time though on a small roach at the bottom of the smelt deadbait bag. The bite really confident despite the fishing underneath it being live bait material. This area seems to produce by far the smallest Zander I catch, the stamp ridiculously small, but there are lunkers here I've seen the pictures.

Then nothing much happened, a lull in the feeding pattern, fish not topping, bites hard to come by. Eventually though a small fish took a liking to the lure and soon after another small schoolie took a proper gob full of the lure and two more on the deadbaits in quick succession.

Heading towards dusk this was now the witching hour and after a missed bite when the fish let go of the smelt I thought things would only get better.

Sadly it went the other way, with the sun setting in a cracking visual treat, that was as exciting as it got. I stopped a little longer that I thought I would to maximise the session, because after all this is an area I don't drive if there wasn't a chance of something half decent, the reality is, it appears it's as good on ones door step.

So when I couldn't see the floats it was time to head off. On the way back a shadowy figure frequenting the same towpath as me. After some pleasantries it was a lure angler who knew who I was and had been a reader of my blog since not far off its conception.  Glutton for punishment I'd say, but always nice to get some nice feedback especially when they'd wished me luck in my Zander quest.


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