Thursday, 21 November 2013

Fangs for the memories

Scott and I had been planning to target Zander since our first jaunt to Rutland last year. We enjoyed that trip but were looking to have a crack at Grafham in the hope of hooking up with a big Zander and maybe a decent Perch. The weather however over the last couple of months has been having none of it so we put plan B into play. We bought our rod licenses and booked our day tickets for a midlands canal and headed for Englandshire. I had never fished a canal before but Scott had plenty of rod time dodging shopping trolleys on Scotland’s waterways so he would keep me on the right track.

Day one and it had been a heavy frost overnight; we had bright conditions and light winds. We tossed a coin as to where we would start and then got to work. After about an hour of walking and casting Scott connected with a little Perch on a drop shot rig, the blank was off! 
I made a few changes and put on a SG Fourplay hooked broadside on a drop shot rig and quickly hooked my first Zed of the trip. This was a brief encounter as when I went for the net it spat the hook, happy days….

Over the next 3 ½ hours we walked and covered loads of water trying locks, bends, weed beds , overhangs and bridges without a touch so we headed back to the car and made a move. When we arrived at the next spot Scott was straight into a fish so we both felt things were looking up.

I was next up with a small but much appreciated Zed which had wolfed the Fourplay, this one was staying on. 

Not long after that I looked over when I heard Scott shout that he was into a decent Zander.  I made my way along with the net but just as I got there the hook came out. The curse of the net strikes again!  It would have been rude not to have a few chucks so I walked a few feet up the canal and pitched in my rig which was promptly smacked by a decent fish.
You can see by the shape and distribution of the fins that the fish is built for agility and speed.Not the greatest fighters but an impressive fish just the same.

Scott reckons this might have been the same fish. It’s a PB for me, probably around 4 pounds so I ended the day on a high.

The forecast for day two was pretty grim with strong winds and rain in the forecast. Scott picked a spot on the map and was on the money as he hooked a Zed on what was probably his third cast of the day.  I walked over with the net, and well you can guess what happened next. Not a happy lad. A few minutes later he picked up this little chap.
This was a much better start to the day than Tuesday so we were optimistic we would get a few fish. We walked a fair distance, changed the lures and took cover under a bridge when the thunder and hailstorm started. Eventually I connected with a nice Perch on a SG Dying Minnow but to be honest it was slow.
We were about to have a move when I decided to try a spot before we made our way back to the car. I then had a couple of gentle taps on the lure which turned out to be a Zander, the net was brought out and yet again the fish was off. I gave Scott a shout and within a minute or so he hooked another Zed which promptly spat the hook again. A nearby wall then received a swift boot and I moved off in the opposite direction to give Scott some time to meditate. I was going to make a comment about rubber hooks but thought better of it and went on my way.

I sneaked this one out when Scott went back to get his bag
That was pretty much the end of the bad news.Over the next couple of hours we had steady action, we lost more Zeds and Scott dropped a thumper of a Perch but rubber hooks Hutchison had three Zander back to back and I went on a steady run of nice Perch. At one point I had to empty the landing net as it was full of autumn leaves picked up while netting fish, nice problem to have. We finished up day two with Scott having two Perch and three Zander and I finished on one Zander and eight or nine Perch.
The SG Dying Minnow again
Total relief- a Zed at last. This was Scott's 108th species of 2013 in fresh,salt and international waters.
But where are the Zeds ?
Rubber hooks is on a role-this is easy!
Stripes in the sun which came out at last
Bristling for a fight
One for the road.Check how broad this fish is in the picture below.
Chubby Perch this one
The business end!
Did we smear or way to success in the brown water ? Who knows but it helped the confidence levels

Tricky fish these Zander, subtle takes or lightning fast hits and a hard mouth full of dentures. We like the Zed. I think we both felt the assist hooks we had would kill the action of lures we were using so we might try something different on our next trip and maybe leave the rubber hooks in Scotland.

We both got over the coloured water pretty quickly but the shallow depth was a surprise to us both. Compared to the canal Scott has fished in Scotland it was really well maintained in terms of bank litter with virtually no snags or rubbish in the canal.  I guess this is down to the fact that it’s maintained as an active and well used waterway which was good to see.



Friday, 15 November 2013

How I see it

Not sure what to make of this year in some respects. The open coast Sea Trout fishing at times was outstanding, good numbers and a nice average size. Having filled out my end of season catch returns that included a new salt caught PB I don’t have much to complain about. I’m already looking forward to next year and catching up with that possible double that escaped at the last moment. Norway was good; we had some huge Cod including another PB for me and also for two of the other guys on the trip.  The Bass have for the most part been hard to locate but I'm happy enough.  I guess it comes with the nature of the fish, weather and the limitations of my knowledge, to some extent this might always be the case. I spent a fair amount of time prospecting some areas where I’ve not fished much before. This was a challenge, at the same time exciting and it did produce some decent fish for what was a lot of effort. This pony needs more than one or two tricks, so that’s the price of progress for me as there are few shortcuts to be had. By my own humble standards I’ve had nine notable fish this year including a 71cm and eight over 60cm so if I were to gauge progress by this measure alone I guess, it is what it is. I’m still making rookie mistakes, mainly going when I feel conditions are more against me than with me but it’s hard to knock enthusiasm. I should maybe just read the fuel receipts at the end of the month to get the message.
It’s been around eight years since I came across a decent shoals of school size Bass.  I occasionally encountered them back then, you could throw a toby at them and get multiple hook ups back to back. This was not the norm but it did happen, maybe once a season, never been close to that since despite spending time more time on the water year on year. It might be fair to say that what I’m now catching are the survivors. What about the up and coming recruitment? Have a  look at this link bye bye Bass for a take on the current position of Bass stocks. I don’t agree with it all but it makes some sense to me based on my own experiences. If you’re interested in catching Bass in the future have a think about it, there’s not a lot we can do to influence nature but down on personal basis maybe there is.
At club level there were a number of disappointing things that occurred. I can’t say I’ve fallen out with anyone, life is after all way too short and it’s only fishing but if you value your angling some of it makes no sense at all. My blog was down, pictures weren’t taken and info wasn’t shared, too far? Probably. I’d like to think I’ve helped a lot of people and that’s been a two way street most of the time. I’m far from a one species angler but if people don’t get it by now, well…….