22/12/2017 - Trying to find an edge

It was an early finish for Christmas at work and, with the temperature still double figures, I therefore decided to have a quick zander session, this time on the River Soar. Dropped into the tackle shop first to supplement my meagre and increasingly manky supply of dead baits. However, they'd forgotten to order in any small coarse fish, so I had to make do with some extortionately priced lamprey and a pack of two, hand-sized roach that I could at least fillet or section if I was desperate. On the way to the counter I passed the bait additives and spotted a bottle of Predator Plus, no longer under the Van den Eynde label, but presumably the same stuff. Whilst I've never used additives for predator fishing before I was willing to try anything to find the edge that I was obviously lacking, so a bottle was purchased along with the dead baits.

Arrived at the river later to find it had a nice tinge of colour. However, whilst the previous day had been overcast and dull, I had brilliant blue sky and a low, dazzling sun to contend with instead - not ideal! Got the rods set up, one baited with a lamprey section, one with a small roach. Gave both dead baits a liberal coating of the Predator Plus. Lack of any ingredients on the label and no real discernible odour didn't really give me any clue as to how effective it might be. Popped one bait down the side and one over to the far bank and settled down to wait. The margin rod was first to go a few minutes later, resulting in a micro-jack. Re-baited and dropped it into the same spot. Unfortunately, my ineptitude came into play as I again forgot to open the bail arm on the reel after attaching the drop off. When the next run came on this rod a few minutes later  I picked it up to find a much better fish already attached. However, just as I was reaching for the net the hooks pulled out. Presumably it had not been able to get the bait far enough into its mouth on the tight line and had just been nicked by the bottom treble.

"Oh dear", I said aloud, or something like that! Moved both rods down the slack after this and had just got settled down again when a chap appeared over the top of the bank. Apart from the fact that he went and stood between me and my rods, it soon became apparent that he viewed chancing upon a fellow angler as an opportunity to verbally unload! The mostly one-sided conversation dodged about from the state of the fish stocks and Eastern European anglers to lack of Environment Agency bailiffs and otter predation to the price of club tickets. When he eventually left I got up to move the rods again. However, the downstream rod started nodding away and I was onto it before the drop off hit the rod rest. Again, this felt a much better fish. Looking over my shoulder I could still see my "friend" about 50 yards away making his way across the field. Thankfully he didn't turn around and see my rod hooped over and come back! Hooks stayed in this one and I was pleased to see a nice fat pike slide into the net - a rare Soar double of 10lb 13oz in mint condition.

The sun had just started to dip below the horizon at this stage and the harsh winter light was visibly softening. Re-baited again giving the lamprey section another good squirt of liquid attractant and dropped it in the same place. Less than 5 minutes later the same rod was off again, resulting in a smaller, but equally mint pike.

Moved further down the slack again into the swim that was going to take me into darkness, popping one bait down the middle and the other alongside a line of willows on the near side. As the sun disappeared the temperature started to noticeably drop and I had just settled down when I got a text from the wife saying that a thick fog had descended in Beeston. Looked up in that direction to see a grey band approaching over the horizon and it wasn't long before I was similarly enveloped. 

Soon everything, including me, was covered in a fine drizzle that just made it feel even colder. As it got darker I had a tentative pick up on the rod in the middle of the channel, but wound down to find nothing on the end. With no further action in the next half an hour I didn't need too much convincing that it was probably best to pack up and head home. The quest for the first zander of the season continues........

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