Canal Zandering - Fairylight Floats & Parental Priorities - 26/4/19 - 6pm

After a couple of weeks hiatus over the Easter period I was keen to get back on the towpath.  I'm really enjoying my canal zander fishing at the moment and it seemed that I had timed my break perfectly, coinciding with the warm weather and, I assumed, the spawning and nest guarding of the zander.

Having done a spot of googling on the subject it seems that zander guard their nests until the fry hatch when they abandon their parenting duties.  This can take anything from five to seventeen days depending on environmental factors but is mainly dependent on water temperature. 

As I would be deadbaiting and so unable to provoke the zander into attacking a lure which they saw as a threat too their nest I was hoping that their guarding was all done and they would be hungry having not fed for a while.  The only spanner in the works was the weather which has turned much colder of late and this will surely have the water temperature on the decline.  This may have delayed egg development enough to scupper my plans.  Only time would tell.
I decided to target the same area as last time out as I knew it held fish, and plenty of them judging by the amount of dropped runs I encountered previously.  I figured that this was not the time to be trying new stretches as the zander may still be preoccupied with guarding duties and that being the case I would not get a true reflection of the potential of any untried area.  

As this was an after work session on a Friday I would fish into dark and with that in mind a start of around 6pm would be ideal, giving me around three hours of fishing time until it was fully dark.
Using a float/leger setup for my canal zander fishing it has always been an issue of what to do during the hours of darkness.  Permanent isotopes not being bright enough for the purpose and temporary ones being a waste of money as I would only ever get an hour of use from them, with the short sessions that I undertake.  I had switched previously to legering and illuminating the rod tops by torchlight but I was never 100% happy with this method so was looking for an alternative.  With this in mind a trawl of Amazon and Ebay saw me find some perfect sized and weighted floats (5g) which had a battery powered led at the tip.  They seemed perfect so were duly bought a few weeks ago and have just arrived, having to come from China.  These would have their maiden outing on this trip.
I walked to the far end of the section with the intention of keeping on the move, working my way down this cover-strewn stretch,  giving each spot just a few minutes before moving on if there was no action.

Well I didn't have to wait long.  The first area I tried soon turned up trumps.  On the first cast a section of lamprey was swung out toward the far bank cover and within a couple of minutes of settling the float was chugging along the canal.  I wound down to the fish and battle commenced wherein the fish put up a fantastic account of itself.  What a brilliant start.  I was really chuffed, not only to catch such a fish very quickly but this must mean that spawning was over and I was in for a cracking session. 

...or so I thought...

I fished on in the drizzle and into dark but without another single bob of a float.  The early optimism fading with the light.  I figure the majority of zander must still be busy parenting.  Oh well, leave them in peace I guess.  They shouldn't be too much longer though, even taking into account the cold weather that's forecast for the coming days.

On a more positive note the floats acquitted themselves admirably, working great without and with the leds fitted.   
Tight lines.

The Calm After The Storm - Zander Fishing - 5/4/19 - 4pm

Unable to get out during the week I was keen to get my fishing fix when the shackles were off come Friday afternoon.

However, what to do.  The original plan had been to return to the scene of last weeks fantastic zander session but as the week progressed with sleet and hail this seemed a less than promising prospect.  The water was sure to have cooled and with it the appetite of the zander.

I considered, perhaps, going roach fishing but in the end the zander won out and a return it was, knowing this week would prove a much more difficult scenario than the previous session, with the air cold and a bitter wind blowing.
As I would again be joined by James at around 5:45pm I decided not to rush to the area that the fish were gathered last week, rather I would work up to that area waiting for James's arrival in a hope to land in that area together.

I worked up the stretch, leapfrogging the rods every ten minutes and, due to the lack of action, I was soon in the area that had proved so successful previously.  This time however things were different.  I stuck in the area for at least forty-five minutes, giving it a good go whilst awaiting my friends arrival.  However, not such much as a bob on either of the floats.  I moved on...
Having leapfrogged another thirty metres of this featureless stretch I was pleasantly surprised as one of the floats cocked and slid away.  Great stuff.  I wound down to the fish and the rod took on it's battle arc.  As the fish felt the pressure it seemed as shocked as I was to see the float submerge and it tore-off, catching me ill-prepared for such a burst of energy as I staggered along the towpath in its wake.  However, after the early lunges the fish soon gave best and I got it under control and ushered into the folds of the landing net.  Not a bad on at all and a fantastic scrap in the cold water.
Soon after James arrived and we worked the rest of the straight without success so onwards it was to the area of cover around the corner which looked so enticing.
We concentrated our efforts there until dusk started to fall.  On a couple of occasions James had some interest in one of his dead roach but nothing more materialised than a couple of bobs of the float.
With barely enough light left to see we made out way back to the area I had caught the fish earlier and gave that half an hour of darkness, figuring there may be more fish as there was one.  It wasn't to be though and we called time on the session with no further action.

Tight lines.

Canal Carnage - A Hectic Zander Session - 29/3/19 - 3pm

This time out I returned to a section of canal I hadn't fished since last closed season but one with which I am fairly familiar, having fished it on several occasions.  However, never for zander.

This session would be heavily geared towards zander although I also would also take a short, stout TF Grear rod, equipped with nothing more on the end of the line than a Nash bread see last year there were carp here and there was the outside chance an early season basker could be tempted with a piece of Warburtons finest.

I arrived after work to find the sun blazing and not a cloud in the sky.  Perfect weather to find a carp wallowing shallow in the murky water, less so for zander fishing so I decided to head to the stretch where they had shown last year.  I arrived and indeed, after 20 minutes or so of careful observation, a couple of backs broke the surface and their bow waves followed.  However, after several attempts with free offerings were ignored it was clear that the only two fish I had seen were not interested.  They were very cagey indeed.  Even the merest sound from passing traffic, some 200m away, would have them sinking back into the dirty depths.

After an hour I moved on, knowing that the zander fishing would be no easier in the conditions.
I stopped at an area of cover which I had remembered from a year ago and which look like it must be home to to a zed or two.  The cover, although nowhere near as thick in its early spring garb, still reached across half the canal in a few places.  Surely they must be here but tempting them in the conditions would prove tricky...and so it was.  After a fruitless hour I needed a rethink.

Dusk was still an hour and a half away and having fishing the entire length of the cover I hadn't had even a bob of interest on the float.  Time for a change.  I reasoned that the original area I had carp fished would now be getting the last of the sun for the day, being tree-lined, so would provide shaded water and also, maybe, one more chance at a carp.  I decided to move back and await the arrival of my fishing buddy James who would be along at around 5.30pm for a bit of evening fishing.  I was closer to him on this stretch and as darkness fell we could move back to the cover stretch together, hopefully to catch a zander.

On arriving there were no carp moving and several minutes observation provided no signs at all.  By this time the water was totally shaded and any realistic chance had gone.
Rather than sit around aimlessly I decided to flick out the zander floats and relax on the tow path which was wider and grassier than on many sections, waiting for James to arrive.  To be honest I did this only to put a bait in the water and to feel I was fishing.  This section is the most "unzandery" piece of water you could imagine.  Shallow and straight with not a feature in sight. 

Imagine my surprise after fifteen minutes then when one of the floats cocked and bobbed.  Was I seeing things?  No it bobbed again and slid under.  I jumped to my feet and grabbed to rod, gobsmacked.  I would down to the fish and it felt a decent one.  After a solid scrap a fish of around 4 1/2lbs was in the landing net.  Result.  I reasoned it must have been a passing fish that had stumbled over my bait.  Still, I was happy.
After unhooking the fish I rested it in the net, rebaited and flicked the float back into the same position on the opposite margin.  It settled on the water and no sooner had the ripples from the cast subsided it too bobbed and slid under.  Another take and another fish landed, smaller than the original one but welcome non the less.
Another cast and another fish followed immediately.  Wow.  I had heard tales of this kind of action from my friend Mick at Piscatorial Quagswagging but had never experienced it myself.  Another fish followed which shed the hook, then another which James arrived just in time to land for me.

Another hour of hectic sport followed for us both with several fish banked by each of us.  What a session this was turning out to be.
As dusk fell the bites tailed away but undeterred we fished on into dark for half an hour or so, just in case a leviathan was waiting in the wings for an encore but it wasn't to be and the final fish, caught when I had quick-changed my rods over into a leger/quiver tip setup weighed only a few pounds.  However, it proved that they will happily pull a quiver tip round, my first on this method.
As we walked back to the car through the damp grass we grinned from ear to ear, happy to have shared such an enjoyable and productive session together, having shared many to the contrary.

In total we banked over ten fish and lost another four or five to hook pulls, as is the way with zander and their bony mouths.  All between a couple of pounds and getting towards five.

Tight lines,