Sunday 31 May 2020

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.161 - Myxomatosis and Mythomania

Some animals are born to be law breakers and the goats that live on Purity Brewery Fam are no exception. Breaking out and breaking the rules are two of Bruno the goat’s favourite past times.

The bleat lets you know he’s coming but no one knows what’s in store for them, from stealing washing off the line to breaking into the Purity brew house, he really is a law unto himself.

Lawless the maverick brew follows the 500- year-old Bavarian brewing law to achieve traditional purity using only four ingredients. We then added a blend of Pilgrim, El Dorado and Styrian Goldings hops.

With Pilsner Malt, Wheat Malt, Caragold, lager yeast and our own mineral rich local water. Coolly lagered for 40 days – oh, and we slipped in a dash of hops, whilst no one was looking for a sharp, citrusy kick.

Give it a go if you can find it, it's a nice drop, in this hot weather a Godsend !!!!

Anyway back to law breakers the wisdom of importing the zander has been debated for some time.

It is said to be a desirable fish for naturalisation in British waters, but, warned Sir Herbert Maxwell, as long ago as 1904, although its flesh is of a high quality, the utmost discretion should be observed in distributing it, for it unites the omnivorous voracity and size of the pike with the defensive armature of the common perch.

Such a formidable creature might work irremediable havoc if it became established in waters tenanted by other game fish.

That learned and sporting baronet would have been even more admonitory if he had known that a Zander lays its eggs a million at a time or more, as against the mere two hundred thousand that is the perch's best.

Both parents guarding them till they hatch, and that, with its perch-like porphropsin-rich eyes giving it good vision in dark, murky waters, it complements the pike as a predator rather than competing with it. 

Now pike like to lie in cover in clear water and dash at their prey, Zander cruise more slowly through dark plant-free waters for choice. Zander were nevertheless introduced early in this century, at first to the lakes of Woburn and Claydon, then in the sixties they were released into the waters of the Great Ouse Relief Channel, from which they have spread to neighbouring rivers. 

He was welcomed by the small band of Zander enthusiasts, who appreciate having something to angle for in winter floodwater, less enthusiasm was felt by the majority of coarse anglers, who felt that roach and bream were meant for better things than Zanderfodder.  

When a small, toothy, odd fish was found in the Trent, loud were the accusations against the Great Ouse River Authority, muted, but not retracted, when the suspect Zander turned out to be a young smelt. 

The rest was history though, however I can offer some consolation to those that didn't fish the canals anyway, but just moan about the state of them. 

Two small Zander meeting head-on will each attempt to swallow the other, and I have seen a photograph of a chain of four of its close American cousin, the walleye, each having partly engulfed the one in front of it. 

Of the million eggs laid, how many are food for the others?

Secondly, big Zander may not be as destructive as they look. Zander in laboratory tanks given access to roach of various sizes cull out the smaller ones, the food of choice for a mature Zander is a roach no bigger than four inches. 

Also, Zander specialists, nope not me, report that dead-bait left lying on the bottom are often better than the catches they can expect to make with live-bait, the fish, for all its fearsome appearance, is a scavenger as much as a predator. Zander have been taken with scales in their stomachs that must have come from bream bigger than themselves, but these were surely taken from fish already dead.

Thirdly, it looks like an excellent subject for biological control. The Russian biologist Gintort, studying the fish of the Kuybyshev reservoirs, found that the carp louse Argulus, which sometimes infects other fishes, is particularly deadly to the Zander; four to eight lice will kill a year-old Zander in six hours, while carp and bream, the other possible hosts, are far more resistant. 

No anode up the jacksie to be seen here !!! then again better keep that under ones hat....

It may not be impossible to devise a sort of piscine myxomatosis to keep Zander down. This may seem far­fetched, and indeed Gintort regarded the Zander's susceptibility as bad news, but then the Russian Zander catch runs into thousands of tons a year.

Anyway enough of that, back to the task in hand, back to what I do best and that is a roving a stretch with the minimum of tackle. What a lovely morning however after fluffing a good take and then losing a fish because it ejected the bait I wondered if I'd actually catch a fish.

I stuck with it though and one section of cover blanketed in thick dark shade produced one of the quickest bites I'd ever had in Zander fishing as I'm sure it took the smelt on the drop. Another quick bite I had two in the net within less than a minute. Not huge fish for me but certainly gave a good fight on relatively light tackle and they don't like the be caught at the minute, all gnashing of teeth and snapping hard shut of jaws. 


  1. Nice article, i find no rhyme or reason with zeds sometimes.
    ive had a river 13, on an 8inch Mackerel intended for Pike,
    had another similar size on a tiny bleak.

    1. That's why I find them intriguing, just when you think you've got them worked out they throw a curve ball.

    2. 100% keep plugging away, that double will come.
      i've never even had a canal zed, its something i need to try more!


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