Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Avon Zander & Barbel —  Should've

I'd caught many hundreds of zander in my long and illustrious zander career. Sometimes, it'd seemed, with the rosy hindsight provided by a half-price bottle of middling plonk and the irreverence of spirit a roaring fire on a cool October night induces that once upon a time I'd caught a hundred in the one go. It was ten or so, and half of them were lost, but it seemed ten times that sum on occasion such was the feverish all-action nature of that memorable night round the corner, down the cut.

But I'd never caught one from the Avon, ever. That's probably because I'd never tried very hard, but I had tried once or twice. Actually it was the once I'd tried. With Danny Everitt — Seven Meadows, Stratford-upon-Avon —  frosty morning — roach on my mind — didn't put my back into it.

But just lately they'd taken up residence in my imagination once more, so, last Friday I finally decided to have a more focused crack at them on the same river but some miles downstream. There's this big, big slack near bank, you see. And it's very deep. Last time there I'd fished it hopelessly for roach trotting bread through but never had a bite. It'd occurred to me then that it might well hold front page zander or pike, so that's where I headed Friday night armed with a single rod and a dead roach or two, leaving Martin half a mile away to his barbel.

Should've turned my bloody phone off. 

My sliding float sat stationary for some time, the bait on the bottom in ten feet of water. Just a few feet further out and I couldn't find bottom with only an eleven foot rod and a stop shot blocking the tip ring. It was fourteen feet deep out there, I reckoned. Fifteen or sixteen perhaps? I should have tied on a rubber or something, something that would slip through the ring easily, but it was getting on for dark already and just couldn't be arsed to. It was pleasant enough to watch where it was, anyways. Seemed just as good a spot as any other. 

And then slowly it sank from sight...

'Slowly sinking from sight' is something that hardly ever happens with zeds down the cut. The float sort of ambles about in half-circles or takes off on a straight line toward something or other but rarely does it vanish. Whenever it does sink from sight, that's pike. So, I expected a pike now, as you would. Actually, I expected a bloody monster having imagined one earlier but it wasn't quite that. Just a small fish — a jack — most likely. 

But it wasn't! 


Didn't weight the fish. It was too small to bother with even though I was alone with no-one around to feel embarrassed by. I reckon two-pounds or so. Let's say, two-pounds and an-ounce, for the record. A new personal best for the species from the river by default as it was my very first and only thus far. Anyhow, having had my first and knowing a thing or two about zander being a self-proclaimed seasoned pro with 'em, I was absolutely positively certain that the same bait cast back to the very same spot would secure another, and possibly much, much, better one.

Like I said, I should've turned my bloody phone off... 

Suddenly, just when my hackles were rising with the falling of the light and prospect of monstrous zeds gracing my net, I'd to packed down and race back. His half expected breathless call had arrived and I'd duties to perform.

Half a mile distant — the best of Martin's year — ones!

This Friday...

I'll turn my bloody phone off....


  1. I've never caught a river Zander either, something I'll hopefully change in coming weeks down the Avon. An interesting fish and I enjoy catching them. I've some Lamprey in the freezer Jeff, they worth a go ?

  2. I don't know, Mick. All I know about zander is what canal zander do like and that's roach, skimmers, but most of all rudd for some reason, perhaps to do with the smell of them? Sea baits don't work. Nor did live gudgeon when a fellow blogger tried them, probably because there's no gudgeon left in the Coventry Canal these days because the grandfathers and grandmother of the present generations ate them all twenty years ago!

    Martin did try lampey at Bury Hill but only had pike on that bait amongst a shed load of missed runs. They may have been zander dropping the bait because the sections he was using were pretty damn big! I had my PB that same day on a bit of old and smelly trout. About two inches square,

    I know nothing about river zander, but Danny does. Ask him. He'll have an idea about it.

  3. Enjoy all your blogs gents. Re river zeds, i did once concur with jeff re sea baits, however my biggest zed just shy of a double came from the upper w avon to a float ledgered headless sardine intended for pike. Only zed ive ever caught on a sea bait mind. Ive found short sections of lamprey best when targetting zeds on the w avon and interestingly have often struggled when using roach as bait?!

  4. For me my list in order of preference for the best zander bait would be a fresh caught roach, bleak, skimmer bream or dace etc.... dispatched then cut off the head or sliced open throat to allow the juices out. Sounds gory but not that bad really no different to cutting a frozen into sections. This is a bait you can have full confidence in which is vital for peace of mind.
    Next is a self caught then frozen bait as above will still catch with similar results on the day but if you are blanking that's when you start doubting how fresh it is, especially if you have had them a while. Thirdly shop bought frozen including fresh or frozen trout from supermarkets. As above but more doubt attached if blanking. Fourth lamprey - never caught a zed or pike on it so have low confidence in it but that's only based on past experience using it a handful of times. Fifth sea baits would only do this if I had no other choice but some people swear it can single out bigger fish esp in winter. I have caught a canal 5lber on a sardine once so never say never. Horses for courses really. The best bait everytime is the one you have the most confidence in, so you can sit back knowing you have given yourself as good a chance as possible on the day. Its just down to the fish obliging.