Friday, 9 October 2020

Warwickshire Avon - Omphalopsychites and Osmeriformes

Despite being a dab hand in all things canal Zander fishing I'm a relative new and a novice really in the river Zander lark. I've targeted them for sure catching them on lures in the summer and also deadbaits in the winter, but I've not really given them a go in autumn when the waters can be a little more to the species liking.

Like a turbid canal where they really are top dog, when the river carries some colour like it is at the minute, their superior eyesight in theory would get them on the hunt well before dusk when they start to move.

The river clarity was clearing from the recent floodwater and with the barbel not exactly jumping up the line at the last session I grasped at the small window of opportunity I had to fish again to try and make use of the seemingly good conditions.  

When the waters are clear the difference in Zander movement is notable and after motionless floats and bobless bobbins all of a sudden the floats can dip, the buzzers sound. 

The best I've managed so far weighed a small dace over 8lb and that was caught in January when the temperatures really do go against the fair weather angler however I usually have the banks to myself, so can fish as many swims as I like.  

It was caught on a morning with proper hard frost where even the Muck boots artic sports were struggling to keep the cold at bay. 

The Zander are scavengers though, so although yes they will take a livebait, deadbaits are picked up no problem, so much so I exclusively use them when I'm fishing for Zeds and it helps that you haven't got to faff around trying to catch some bait fish where ones fingers are being nicely cosseted by some gloves.

Obviously not all clubs allow fishing livebaits in-fact most don't so it has that advantage too. 

Now I sort of discovered the use of smelt for Zander by accident because it was the only deadbait I had in in the freezer at the time, but on the canal it turned in to a a bit of a revelation.

The soft flesh with fishy cucumber pungency seemed to have one up on the roach and when fished back to back, 9 times out of 10 the smelt was the Zed food of choice. 

They just seem to love it....

Now another benefit which I discovered in a Zander book I have which also backed up the use of smelt, was that there is no need to defrost them either, because they are easy to put on the hook when frozen and they naturally suspend off the bottom before it's full defrosted.

So for a good 15 / 20 minutes or so or longer still in the winter the silvery highly visible smelt is standing to attention for some added attraction and can attract the gaze of a Zed like eyes fixated to a belly dancers navel. 

The only issue is which you don't find on the canal is that because the flesh is soft they are not ideal to fish at range on the river where a roach or dace would be the better option. 

I don't generally fish that far out luckily but one area I do fish for them which carries some decent depth >15ft a couple of the swims need a change in bait. 

So that's the bait sorted, for rigs, well nothing complicated, I use an overdepth float set-up if the conditions allow it, or a simple running ledger ring with coated trace fitted with a large single hook. 

Especially on the float, the bites are extremely positive, the ledger less so but they still confident bites in the main. 

However one tip is once you do get a bite is to lift the rod off the rest and feel the fish pull the line through your finger and thumb, because some fish can mess around with the bait from time to time as I can only assume they pick up and drop it, before taking it lock stock. 

Anyway back to the session which was a few hours post work, the river despite being over its banks was back well within them again, still it was a good colour and having dropped down to more or less usual autumnal levels, I could keep a bait nicely nailed to the bottom.

The conditions looked spot on, but after an hour and a half without a bite I was getting itchy feet and was planning to go to a different area altogether, but then some interest.

The left hand rod jumped in to life and a fish was taking line. I lifted it off the rest and felt the fish pulling on the bait so I struck in to the fish, then nothing, no resistance at all...

The bait goes back out and again the same thing happens....

So after the bait went out for a third time I decided to leave it a little longer and let the bite develop. 10 minutes went by and again the bobbin rose, the indicator sounded but I left the fish take some line, till it was confidently running with the bait.

Now a proper weird fight ensued and after a decent battle the culprit revealed itself ,a huge eel, easily the biggest I've set my eyes upon. The problem was it was much bigger than my Gardner spoon landing net, but not only that I could see it was hanging on to the bait, the hook was nowhere near it. 

The third attempt to land it having draped itself half way in to the landing net, all of a sudden it ended up letting going go of the bait and wriggling free, damn. Damn, yes because not only was it the loss of a huge eel, but another hour and a half in this usually productive area there was no more bites.


  1. Gutting! I know your pain - the biggest eel I ever saw was in and out of my net half a dozen times before it spat the hook - I can still see it wriggling about on the surface now.

    1. Gutted I was, an impressive beast for sure


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...