Sunday, 6 December 2020

(Not Quite) The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.169 - Callipygians and Cathisophobia

Not my first choice this time of year trudging a rather wet and muddy canal towpath but it was about the only fishing choice I had available to me. The rivers you see were in a pretty rubbish state with the levels rising overnight it was bad enough trying to fish effectively 24 hours earlier. 

Still you know I like my canal Zander fishing if you've been reading my blog and the quest for a cut double continues, I'm sure I will eventually manage one because hopefully effort equals reward.Why not have a well deserved lie-in bed instead, errrrr no thanks, that's not for me.

Now the weather report said it was going to be dry for this short morning session and much colder, but they couldn't be more wrong as it rained the whole time I was there and felt much milder too. 

I do enjoying walking the canal towpath and leapfrogging sections of cover like I do because not only is it some welcome fresh air, but working from home ones steps are pretty mediocre this time of year. 12k steps down at the end of the session it just goes to show how much walking is involved.

You would think like many fish Zander would not be up for a feed in these brass monkey conditions but I've found providing you've managed to find the fish they are up for a nibble. 

That is half of the problem as they don't tend to move much but not is all lost because if you think about it when the weather is testing roving around to find the fish is a good way of keeping warm. The second biggest canal Zander I caught was after a hard overnight frost and I've managed schoolies when snow has covered the banks, you're mad, errrr yeah !!!!

You can tell they are laying up because they are covered in leeches when you catch them so they are waiting around for a meal to come to them, rather than up for a chase.

My usual set-up for this short trip, tackle to a minimum which allows moving from one area of cover to the next without any cumbersome lugging of gear.

There is nothing worse than roving when you've far too much gear and over time I've reduced my gear down to a level where you don't really notice an extra weight. I've compact rods, a small landing net handle and a net just about fit for a 10lb canal Zander. Even the shoulder bag is stripped down to the bare essentials because to catch canal Zander and decent ones, roving is the key.

If you've not had a bite in the swim after 10 / 15 minutes it's time to move on and if you're loaded up like a cart horse believe you me all that gear will start to test your resolve after a short while.

Now the colour of the canal changed quite considerably over the distance that I travelled, it went from an almost milky white colour to clear. In-between mind you there were a couple of chocolate brown areas that seemed to coincide with some overflows dumping a load of coloured water straight in to the drink.

It was those areas I concentrated on in the main but swim after swim, cover after cover there was nothing doing at all. I rarely blank when using deadbaits, it was an off day for sure.

Now this is an area that has been very kind to me, ok not the area that has produced a 9lb and a 8lb 10oz fish but I've had a couple of 7lbers and quite a few fish over 5lb. When I started this quest I didn't realise just how tasking it would be, because believe you me fish over 5lb are rare as rocking horse poo.

They can turn up almost anywhere though so there isn't really any science to catching the specimens, it really is time on the towpath.

So 4 hours in without a bite it was time to head home. The only highlight I managed to haul out this and the gear stood up no problem. Shame it wasn't a Zander that tested the set-up to its limits. No boats, a couple of walkers, a couple of joggers one with a derriere that would stop a narrowboat in the track, a proper jaw dropper it was eerily quiet out today.

I do love this sort of fishing though and although flowing water is a preference, the closed season means I get to do this even. I wouldn't say I wish I could fast forward to March because that's not the case, but I do feel at home on the towpath, you only have to see how many sessions I've ticked off to confirm that.

A dull day, and a fruitless session but at least I did the lure anglers a favoured and hauled out the lure loser. I gave a usually productive swim a good 20 minutes on the way back to the car but not even a nudge or a bob.

The banks are very baron at this time of year though so the usual areas that hold fish because of the thick cover no longer do. If I'm forced in to another session any time soon, I'll visit an area that usually sees less attention from the cack handed contractor hackers from the canal and rivers trust, I've not seen a Zander for a while, I've missed them.


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