Thursday, 16 December 2010

Canal Zander - My Quest for a Big Cut Zed - Cabin Fever

Seems like ages since I last fished. The freezing weather hasn't been to blame - I have yet to encounter conditions severe enough to stop me trying to get my net wet - no, I've been cooped up due to one damn thing after another damn thing and then just as the horizon cleared and it looked as if I might get to exploit a few scarce holes in the canal's ice cap created by the recent thaw (which now looks to be over before it was complete) I was struck down with a short sharp dose of flu that put me down for days.

Today however, I kicked my post flu lethargy into the weeds and then got out for a few brief hours before the cold weather, predicted to come back to Coventry by nightfall, arrived and froze the place shut again for the forseeable future. My favourite predator swim was open with ice lingering on for miles either either side but with clear water out front. It was an opportunity I couldn't miss.

It's a noticeable thing about a canal that the best pegs for all kinds of species tend to be the ones that for some reason are last to freeze and first to thaw in the wintertime. Of course it is obvious that these places must be slightly warmer than others and that is why they attract fish who being cold blooded would appreciate an extra half degree and the lift in metabolic rate that it would lend them.

Interestingly, as the ice has slowly thawed from over four inches thickness to just an inch or so in most places now, It has been possible to see the bottom of the marginal shelf right out to the boat track, where visibility suddenly drops off. I've been peering into the water looking for fish on miles of dog walks but I have seen just the one, a small jack pike, who saw me coming and scurried off into the deep water in the track. You'd think, if you knew no better, that there was not a single fish in the canal but that one pike...

The bottom of the boat track must be quite literally paved with torpid fish in places as believe me there's an awful lot of fish living in that canal! It's also remarkably clean down there, not at all silty and without much in the way of features apart from the odd shopping trolley or stolen push bike. What the fish actually live on is anyones guess.

I digress.

I had a new rod to break in, a matching pair for my 1-3/4lb Ron Thompson heavy Avon rod, bought two years almost to the day from the first example. I'd got tired of having a mismatched pair of rods, so I invested. As you do...

Its maiden cast brought a run within half an hour and a strike that met with a dead weight like a sunken log. As the fish came closer it suddenly woke up to its predicament and started to fight with a real kick. It was landed easily enough but for a while I really thought it was a very big fish what with the illusion of immovability and then sudden surges of raw power. It was a pike of just eight pounds weight...

Then, as predicted the cold came back with a vengeance. Within an hour of landing the pike the mercury dropped a full four degrees, the spitty rain that had been falling all the while turned first to hard ice, then sleet and finally a blizzard of wet snow driven by a fitful wind. When I could no longer see the floats I decided to not fit night-lights to them and carry on into darkness as it was just too bloody miserable for words.

It's a little ice age here in Blighty, with the weatherman predicting much worse to come...

Ah well, it's back into the cabin, I guess.


  1. Well done finding a clear stretch and winkling out a lovely pike there Jeff. I have a tip off about a stretch with a warm water inlet... cawling with pike apparently... we'll see.

  2. You'll be well aquainted with all the pike in that stretch before spring at this rate Jeff, well angled once again mate!

    I'm just recovering from a severe Man cold myself, but with the next few weeks ahead free of work, lets hope the conditions allow some sport too.