Sunday, 2 January 2011

Canal Zander & Pike - My Quest for a Big Cut Zed - A Big Fat Mamma

This series has to end here - if ever there was a thing deserving of an alternative moniker, this is it - it's a misnomer!

I can no longer pretend to be fishing the canal for 'a big cut zed' because since I began 'my quest for' such a fish, the fish that I have been catching mostly, and in the size range I was looking for when I began, have been of the species, Esox lucius, and, I'll freely admit that for some time now I have really been hoping to get a big 'un of those and have neglected to think of zeds completely.
Today was no different. I embarked upon my first fishing trip of the new year intending to catch a big pike, and a zander too, but in that specific order...

Lord of the manor...!

The local canal stretch, despite the prolonged thaw, still has just a few small areas that are free of ice (plus anglers) and today, one of these happened to be my favourite pike peg. An alternative opening just a hundred yards North was full of anglers desperate to sink a line so I couldn't have been luckier to get a slot anywhere let alone where I actually wanted to fish. I booked out the whole thing out, as you would, by casting my floats far left and far right. Naughty, but effective, canal politics...

Sit, Bach, and enjoy...

Nothing occurred on either rod for an hour or more, but then I decided to cast the right hand rod a very long way north and into unexplored territory. As with so many fishing risks it paid off and within just a minute of settling down the float set off upon a dawdling journey in and around the perimeter of just a square yard of water. I had no idea what to do with it. Should I strike and risk an early dropped bait, or wait and risk a deeply hooked fish?

I struck, or rather wound down and pulled hard there and then into a satisfyingly heavy weight that just had to be a pike. And, it was, but at first I thought it to be just a sub-double figure fish, perhaps eight or nine pounds at most, but when, after ten minutes of dour fighting I'd finally hauled the dead-weight within netting distance, suddenly the fish began to kick back hard, take line and have a say in matters, and then it became obvious that I'd a reasonable fish on my hands.

Eventually, I got a netting chance, got her in first time and then swung her onto the bank. Heavy fish! What a fat belly! This could be a personal best, I thought to myself. The big single hook was well set in the scissors (as usual) and was removed without even opening her mouth. On the scales she went fifteen pounds and nine ounces making her the second largest pike I have ever caught after a memorable fifteen-twelve fish caught some thirty years ago, and a new canal personal best...

...the fact that the fish gets me just a measly thirty three percent on this years fishing challenge is neither here nor there! She gets me off the mark and sets the bar for pike high for the others!

I had a further three runs into the evening but all resulting in just one small zander of a pound and a half for the lot. One fish was hooked and lost, and one fish I never felt at all - both zander, most probably. I chucked my stinky old often refrozen bait in at the end of the day as a votive offering to the gods of pike. Hopefully when I return next, they'll remember the gesture and send that big fat mamma that I keep hearing of, my way?


  1. I think the Pike gods are already smiling down on you - in that peg anyway. They must want to all meet you in person !

    Another fine catch Jeff, day two and the pressures building already....

  2. great fish! your country facinates me, and blogs like yours have really helped me get a fine grip on what you guys have going on over there... so good luck from accross the pond!

  3. Congrats Jeff, a cracking fish.

  4. Jeff,

    Well done on that capture of the pike? I am a little surprised that that specific peg keeps producing, but hey, you keep trying and keep catching.

    Keep up with the good work.


  5. That's a fine canal pike there Jeff - now for that rumoured monster!

  6. I'm sure you've had worse starts to the year Jeff!

    A cracking Pike and that's definitely set the bar at a decent level. I need to stick quite a bit on my pb to even match that!

    At least I can also wander down to that section of the cut, so hopefully I'll get in on that sort of action too in the next 360 odd days!

  7. Now me, I prefer Cryptic crosswords when I'm waiting for Esox Nice fish!

  8. It's a mystery why so many pike should be concentrated in relatively few areas of the Coventry and Oxford canals round here, but it's true to say that the vast majority of the canal contains relatively few large pike. I'd caught just the one jack amongst twenty or more zander till I fished this place.