There are countless undeniable facts in fishing, two of which are; 'the anticipation of catching your first fish on a new rod is wonderful feeling', and 'perch cannot resist lob worms'. I experienced both recently! You see last week I purchased me a bargain new rod. Unlike most of my new gear this rod didn't come from either the local tackle purveyor or some discount tackle website. It actually came from Keith Jobling who after a fervent evening of clicking and bidding ended up with five of them if I recall correctly. The rod in question was a Shakespeare mach 2, 9ft wand, and after unwittingly winning most of the rods he had bid on Keith began selling them off to recoup his outlay. Some time ago but whilst chatting over a few civilised drinks one evening he mentioned to me he still had one left and thus arrangements were made for me to purchase the final remaining wand, with the idea that it would be perfect for plundering my local brook in the depths of winter when I can't be arsed to drive anywhere.
Anyway the rod deal was finally done and I found myself with a new toy. Though I am way off using it on the local trickle, the sight of it glistening in our dining room did get me thinking that I would like to give it a go to see how it handled. Previously I had planned to go down to the secret squirrel hole on the canal to do some zander fishing and it seemed a great idea to take this wand along to see if would conjure me up a few nice sergeants.
It was actually Keith who put the idea of free lining worms using its lightest quiver tip in my head, so once the zander rod was cast out I left that to do it's thing and took some time to get to know this wicked little bit of carbon a bit better.
Since seeing how fish had reacted to my baits and rigs on the Itchen a few weeks ago I have obsessed a little on how my baits look and act underwater, and although I would never in a million years be able to see my baits in this latté coloured canal, the idea of having nothing on my line at all bar a hook seemed to my minds eye the perfect low resistance rig. The length of the rod too seemed perfect for this job as well, being only 9ft long. I found that if I sat well back from the canal I could position the rod with only the last foot or so hanging over over the canal. This enabled me to either fish a few inches over depth or actually suspend my worm off the bottom a little. I was amazed to see that the super sensitive tip actually registered if the weight was off the bottom or not.
This was too perfect a scenario to go wrong and soon enough that super sensitive tip twanged once as a perch engulfed the worm, then bent the rod immediately afterwards as the fish moved off. Although the first comers were small by this stretch standards, I can hand on heart say that I did not miss a single bite for ten fish. Then soon enough some bigger billies turned up and Jesus did they pull that light tip round! It took only one bigger fish for me to reposition my rod rests into more of a river stance with the rod pointing into the air slightly to prevent the delicate tip contacting with the bank edge and damaging the tip when a big perch ate my bait.
Even some little zander got in on the action, especially when my bait was off the bottom, though their bites were so different from the perch; they came with zero warning and just hooped the tip round just like a barbel bite scaled down.
Speaking of zander, I had totally neglected my zander rod which had strangely been rather inactive for most of the morning; even watching the float from the corner of my eye it had registered zero interest. When I recast though it went off within five minutes. Zander sometimes flummox me outright. My rig when cast out again had landed literally four feet from where I had originally cast and I know this area is a bit of a zed hotspot. So I suspect the culprit was certainly in the area of the bait originally and for what ever reason would not go for the little dead roach in its first position.
The first one that took my dead bait was little more than two pounds and came in very quickly. The second one really gave it the big one, shooting all over the canal shaking it's head in fury trying to rid it's mouth of my biting hooks. I did think at first it was a more serious canal zed but once in the net it shrank a little. The savage fight was explained though easily by the size of its tail.
I don't think I have ever seen such a massive tail on such a small zander. That thing could make a marlin feel inadequate about the size of its rudder. After that though the zander-like perch became rather cagey in their feeding. I did scrape a few more perch here and there, but like most canal sessions for me they last as long as my patience does with the boat traffic and that is not that long.
As for the new rod I have to say that I am over the moon with this little carbon wonder. Not only is it just the right length for near side shelf fishing on the canal but the super sensitive tips are great in close quarters and it also doesn't lack in power for a rod rated to only four pound line. I suppose in naming it a wand Shakespeare were spot on as it really does fell magic at times and I can't wait to try it out on the sow come winter.