Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A zander! A zander! My kingdom for a zander!

Last year at about this time I fished Rutland Water with my mate Martin and despite some pretty miserable conditions we both managed to catch our first zander. We were keen to have another go for them this year and had planned to head down south again to Grafham Water this time to have a couple of days out in a boat fishing for them with lures. The weather forecast a few days before we left predicted wind speeds into double figures so we changed our plans and decided to head to Warwickshire to fish the Lure Angler Canal Club's stretch of the Grand Union Canal instead. We met up in Carlisle on Monday evening and drove down the M6 arriving at our hotel after a few hours where we sorted out our gear for an early start.

Tuesday morning and over breakfast we discussed our plan of attack on the ten mile section of canal our day ticket covered. I suggested we start at one end and tossed a coin to decide which. Tails it was and off we went. Soon at the canal we started working our way along the towpath. It took us quite a while to locate any fish. Whilst quite cold it was quite a sunny day and perhaps not ideal conditions. The canal is quite shallow and is very coloured too so we elected to use some Mike's Scent in herring and trout flavours on our lures. Yummy. Apart from moored boats though the section we were on had very little structure so we spent more time fishing around locks when we reached them. It was from just below one that I caught the first fish of the day, a small perch. 

Greedy little bugger swallowed a 3" Daiwa D-Fin whole!

Shortly afterwards Martin briefly hooked a small zander that threw the hook whilst he got his net. Encouraged to have found a couple of fish we carried on working our way along a long and pretty featureless stretch for a mile or so and it became quite apparent that we were really struggling to locate any more fish. After a while we decided to fish back along towards the car and head somewhere else. With no sign of any fish on the way once back at the car I had a quick look on Google Maps and found a spot with a few locks that we could park next to and off we went. 

By now the light was beginning to fade which we both agreed could work in our favour. Sure enough I hooked and landed another perch on my first cast. A good start. We headed along towards the first lock, Martin hooked a fish and called along to tell me it was a zander. I ran along the towpath and netted it for him. We carried on slowly working our way along when I thought I had snagged on something on the bottom and began slowly lifting it up. I was quite surprised to see it was a zander! Bizarrely it didn't move at all and it was a bit like a submarine surfacing. As it got near the surface I wasn't sure if it was hooked but as soon as I put a bit more pressure on it spat the lure out of its mouth and swam off. I called to Martin and he came along to where I was. We had a few more casts around the area and Martin soon hooked his second zander of the day. 

A nice fish and it was about the same size as the one I'd just "lost". No way of telling if it was the same one though.

We both thought we'd see a bit more action but despite fishing on into darkness no more fish were caught. 

The next day the weather forecast was for rain and wind. We headed to a spot a mile or two from the other end of the stretch we were permitted to fish. After a few casts I hooked a big perch but it managed to throw the hook whilst Martin came over with the net. A couple of casts later I caught a smaller one and then we decided to start working our way along the canal in search of some zander. After a while the skies opened and it started raining hailstones. We took shelter under a bridge for a bit until it went off again. Martin switched to a Savage Gear Dying Minnow and the resident perch seemed to like it.

The colouration of the resident perch matches their murky home rather well. 

After that it went fairly quiet and we reached a large open area with a lot of boats. Whilst I focused on this area Martin went along the canal to fish around a bridge. It wasn't long before he called me along to say he had just hooked and lost another zander so I joined him there. This area seemed to hold a lot more fish, we both had a few perch and then I hooked a zander which annoyingly managed to throw the hook again. At this point I had a horrible feeling that I wasn't going to land one as we had planned to turn back when we reached the bridge. However, the stretch after it looked quite good being rather shady with a fair amount of overhanging and partially submerged trees on the opposite bank so we started fishing it. It turned out to be a good decision as it was easily the most productive stretch we had discovered so far and soon a few perch were caught. Martin then caught a zander and I finally hooked and landed three zander in fairly quick succession on a 8cm Savage Gear Soft 4-Play fished very slowly on a drop shot rig.

My third zander was a lovely fish in almost perfect condition. For such a streamlined fish with all those huge fins you'd think they would fight hard but they don't unfortunately which is quite odd.

I hooked a forth, larger zander which came off, Martin caught a few more perch, then the sky opened up again and we got a bit of a soaking. This also signalled the end of the action too so we called it a day and headed back to the car to head back up the road. We both really like zander, they are lovely looking fish and we really wish there were some up here. Sadly there isn't though but such is our fondness for them we're tempted to return to fish for them again over the winter at some point! It was great catching up with Martin again, I really enjoy fishing with him, and whilst it was tough finding fish at times, for our first attempt at zander from a canal I think we did ok, despite losing as many as we landed. I'm hoping to meet up with Martin again before the year is out to try and catch some spurdogs from either Loch Etive or Loch Sunart. Something else to look forward to!

Tight lines, Scott.

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