05/11/2014 - Zander sessions

Back home after a week away and the plan now was to get a few more sessions in after some zeds. One from one of my local rivers was a particular target. However, with a few hours to spare on a Sunday afternoon, the first trip was down to the canal. Conditions looked good. The light rain that started as I arrived soon disappeared and it turned into a nice evening. 

Autumn colours on the cut

Soon had two baits out, hair-rigged roach sections again, and settled down to wait. Thought I'd missed the boat traffic for the day, but had to wind if for one latecomer. A small pike took this as a cue to take the downstream bait, causing a bit of excitement for those on board.  

On the 'ead

A few fish started dimpling as the light faded and there was an air of expectancy that things would soon kick off. However, it wasn't until it was fully dark that the upstream rod rattled off, resulting in a typical schoolie zander.  

Where's your mum?

Was hopeful that a few fish had moved into the swim now. However, despite moving the baits around between the far bank, near bank and mid-channel, I could only muster one more before it was time to pack up and head home. Had a bit of a head scratch after tea and perused a few other blogs to see how others were getting on. Saw that the zander hook debate had been raised by a couple of people. I've always been pretty conservative in terms of hook size, preferring to fish half-baits on a size 4 or 6 Korum S3. I also prefer to hair-rig my baits, as in the top of the picture below. Fish are generally hooked in the scissors, as shown in the two photos above. I've had pike to over 15 lbs on this arrangement so a small hook doesn't seem to be a problem. I do fail to connect with the odd fish, but an experimental session with a mini snap tackle made with size 12 Partridge outbend trebles (in bottom of picture below) suggested that these were mini-zeds that were barely able to get the baits in their mouths. Think it basically comes down to personal preference in the end as there seems to be several hooking arrangements out there that work.

Zander candy

Next session was on a club section of the River Soar that I'd not fished before but one I had already been to have a look at to suss out some likely swims. Arranged to work down in Rothley for the day, leaving at 3 o'clock sharp in order to give myself maximum daylight to sort myself out. Whilst there were a few cars parked up in the field next to the river when I got there, there was nobody at the bottom of the section and I was able to drop into my preferred swim - a deep, wide pool with the flow going past some trees on the far bank. Was trying an alternative approach for this session, fishing with my Drennan Big Feeder rods with 4oz tips and isotopes. Dropped one half bait on the crease near the trees and another down the middle of the river. Didn't have to wait long before the tip on the rod over the far bank started nodding. Unfortunately, there was no resistance when I wound down and I found that the bait had been pulled off the hair. Re-baited and sent it over again. The next time the tip started nodding I was straight on the rod, feeling the line running out between my fingers before I wound down. This time there was something solid on the end - a 5lb 1oz zander to be exact, my first proper "river" fish (drains don't count!).


Popped another bait over in the same spot and soon had another take, unfortunately from an obligatory pike. Stayed quiet after this and into dark apart from a couple of single jabs on the downstream rod. The moon had come up by now, making it ridiculously light but also flippin' cold! Was watching a flotilla of six swans make their way slowly along the far bank and contemplating packing up when the rod over by the tree started nodding again. Wound down to be met with the proverbial "wet sack" that turned into another zander. This went into the net without a whimper despite being bigger than the first at 6lb 3oz. 

Number two!

Packed up after this and made my way back to the car. A mist was rising off the river that, in the moonlight, made the scene more worthy of Halloween rather than Bonfire Night. Wasn't surprised when the car thermometer said zero degrees! Drove home pretty happy with the results of a couple of hours on a new bit of river and already planning the next session.

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