Monday, 22 October 2012

A Record Canal Zander? Or What...

Breaking news of a massive Ashby Canal zander had me wetting myself this morning. Checking my inbox Russel Hilton of Tales from the Towpath had alerted me to a Total Coarse Fishing news item so off I went to read it and sure enough there it was with two anglers holding it up at arms length in what looks like a pub and grinning their heads off. It was great story and very entertaining but the fish met a sad demise because it was killed and filleted, soaked in milk and eaten by our intrepid duo.

Very nice is zander and I've no problem with eating a 2lb schoolie every now and then, but an 18lb fish is an awful lot of meat — add to that their 10lb'er caught earlier in the day and you have 28lb's of fresh zander which at current prices per kilo comes to an awful lot of money.

No word of a lie, zander retails at £89 per kilo for the best cuts...

28lb =12.73kilo x £89 = £1132.79

Take the guts out and heads off, and what remains in meat still buys a cheap second-hand car or a short winter break somewhere nice and warm!

No wonder I'm start to doubt the veracity of the 'landowner insisted I kill it' story considering they probably took it off a towpath but not someone's field and the landowner would then be the Canal & River Trust and the lessee, an angling club. And especially as they do seem know just how to prepare and cook it and do 'kill everything' they catch, which I'm betting is whatever can be legally taken in any number which would be zander of course, because all other coarse fish are protected with strict limits set on catch numbers destined for the pot and they would know and respect that.

Nothing in such activity would be illegal though. It wouldn't. Zander aren't protected in any way and you can take home all you catch if you like, so long as it's killed on the bank and not moved live which is illegal. Their actions were above board.

Of course I could be blowing hot air here but when two anglers trumpet such a story to the world they are going to come in for lots of stick and all of it administered with boughs not twigs. Questions will be asked!

Why are they both holding the fish up if they weren't working as team? That's not how anglers behave — we routinely have single-angler trophy shots don't we? But it might be how a pair of poachers would behave because their prize would be shared team effort and the pictures of their mutual success would lend bragging rights to both partners in the enterprise down the pub. Of course I'm not saying they are, only that such a story when picked apart at the seams and with zander selling at such astronomical prices might make many people suspect they were.

They categorically aren't poachers though. No poacher would ever have publicised such explicit detail in the national press and cut his own throat. Killing zander isn't poaching in any case. As I said, all above board, but still questions arise, such as...

'Is it really an 18lb fish?'

I don't think so having had a good look at it. A double yes, but not the kind of monster double claimed for it ~

Above, Des Taylor and a verified '18' and below, Jim Smith with another ~

These two fish can be trusted for weight because both are respected predator anglers and their weighing of catches will be beyond reproach. They also look pretty much same size by comparison with each other because they really are.

Here's a comparison shot of all three with the pictures scaled so that all the fish are about the same length give or take half an inch ~

Now either Des Taylor and Jim Smith both have very small fingers, or the captors of this supposed '18' have huge hands, have inaccurate scales, or just guesstimated the weight and got overexcited.

I suspect it might be the latter because no serious angler in their right mind would claim a fish to be so big when it clearly isn't, tell the fraternity of catch-and-release British specimen angling where it was caught if was an 18lb'er when any member would give their eye teeth for a zander of such size, and then let them know there was no chance of that now because they'd eaten it for dinner!

It's big enough though and the Ashby is not far from home, in fact it's a bike ride away so I might well be visiting that canal this winter coming. Not for profit mind, just in case you were thinking I might know a little too much about zander prices for my own good!

But just for the zander fishing and the chance of a low double, if there's any left by then...


  1. If it was me the fish would of been accidently dropped back in the cut mate .

    And no way is it 18lb ......

    Just my humble


  2. It is a very disappointing image mate and my arse it's 18lb!

    The whole thing is made even worse by the celebrity angler in the photo. I'd be willing to bet Mr Findlay wouldn't of been so accommodating if his mate had turned up at his front door with a bucket full of F1's from his favourite carp soup venue.

    I wonder if his sponsors will be using that image in there promotional material?

  3. Oh, I didn't know he was a 'famous' match angler! Don't follow match fishing and skipped straight past his name assuming he was just a mate who match fished.

    An ill advised photo opportunity then!

  4. Dan i thought it was findlay at first but wasnt sure .

    I just dont see how the killing of the fish was enforced myself . Its clear as mud . They could of easily dropped the 9lber back in my opinion.


  5. Jeff, blimey mate a lttle information can be dangerous. There will be set lines from here to Lowestoft and down to Gloucester before long.

    That fish is clearly not 18lb but the angling press just go for the lowest common denomination and happily insult the intelligence of the rest of us. They might as well say giant zander found on the moon for all the credibility that 'News' items warrants.

    Headline should read "Match angler overestimates possible low double zander then needlessly destroys it" but that would be too near the truth !

  6. The fish was killed cos they are matchmen hell bent on destroying any predator they can get their hands on. If I caught them on any of my waters knocking zander on the head I'd ban them for life I don't care if its legal to kill them or not. As for the spurious claims about them fishing a private stretch, what a joke! That's just a poor attempt to deflect some of the inevitable flak they knew they'd get over this. 18lb? Crock of shite.

    It is a double though, just a shame nobody else will get a chance to catch it now. Pair of Selfish muppets.

    Sorry about ranting on your blog like that Jeff old chap!

  7. Lee, Leo, I think the story is perfectly fine as an instigator of controversy and heated debate. A bit of a sideswipe too now I've read it over again (I'm sure there was no mention of his name early this morning!) at some outmoded opinions and practices when it comes to zander, who have as they say, made canals a big fish paradise and a match anglers nightmare because of the lack of tiddlers.

    But rant away!

    Sorry about the zander prices but I think it takes more than a little sus to actually run a business at it and will need a license as with crayfish or the markets won't touch it. However, have you heard of 'Gloucestershire zander?'

    Now where do these fillets come from I ask myself? The severn or the canal or both?

  8. Hmmm, I've been looking for a nice little earner....

    I've a mate that cycles to work along that canal, he reckons he rarely see's a soul fishing in the morning but encountered four bivvy's after that was publicised.

    Did I hear something about it being caught off a boat or am I dreaming?

  9. lets hope they dont go perch, pike, wild trout or grayling fishing.

    They do zander in aldi every now and again at a couple of quid a fillet in a nice soace and it tastes spot on ...... however something that has lived in a rank stagnant canal as opposed to artificially bred in swedish fish farms is going to taste baaaaad. And as Jeff says take a small one for the pot - we always take a 2lber from Rutland BUT a double figure fish of a lifetime ......

  10. A bit sad in every meaning of the word. The photo says all you need to know about the chaps in question.

    I've only just found this blog after setting up one of my own yesterday, but must say it looks very good. Lee

  11. Hi, I’ve just started a new fishing blog ( and although it’s still in its infancy I was wondering if you could add it to your blog list and I’ll do likewise with your site. Many thanks, Lee

  12. Cheers Lee, I hope it goes well for you. It's on my sidebar now, good luck!