Friday, 15 May 2015

Possibly a world first.

I have this feeling that I could settle down very well and be quite happy by the sea. I even suspect I could give in to the salt water and forget about freshwater fishing. Hence I was eager to get quickly back onto the canals rather than mooning around wishing I was still by the sea. Less than twenty four hours after being back as far away from the sea as you can get, I was walking the tow path of the Coventry wondering which of its many moods it might be in on this occasion.

In truth, with it being a bank holiday weekend once again the water was pretty much the same colour of Willy Wonkers chocolate river from the 1971 Gene Wilder film. I got my hopes up that it would fish well after an early hit from a small zander, but three hours later I was fish free and desperate. I could attribute the poor show to anything from water clarity to copious boat traffic, but I had this niggling thought that it was just one of those off days when the Coventry is as moody as a common garden teenager.

As the Coventry has a habit of being a bit like this I'd had the forethought to bring along a tub of lob worms I had been nursing for a few weeks. Some days fake bait or the way I am fishing fake bait just fails to do the job. Wiggling the worm on a drop shot rig though seems to be able to conjure up the goods when all else fails. I suspect that even though it maybe an unnatural movement the worm is doing, the natural sight of it combined with any scents released seems most of the time to get one over on even the wariest predators.

So there I found myself, working a drop shot rigged worm along the margins of the Coventry canal in a figure of eight motion as I covered the entire distance right back to the car at a snail's pace. I'd only walked ten or so feet when I got a pluck, probably from a small perch. Then after covering the water again I got hit again and this time I stuck into the fish sending it firing off like a bullet. It wasn't big and after an initial surge it turned round and came right in close. A flash of silver and it was a zander, until it gave up and came in where it quickly turned into a skimmer. This wouldn't have been the first skimmer I'd had on the drop shot, but it was the first silver bream I 'd had on it! Over sized eye, peachy fins and bigger scales than a skimmer. It was definitely a silver bream and quite possibly a world first on the drop shot rig to boot.

Less than half a day later after calling it on a dismal return I was on the same canal only in a different county. Turned out a night of no boats had increased the visibility from a few inches to a mere half a foot, but that was enough to get the zander on the move and hunting. Quite quickly I located a shoal of fish holding just inside the far margin shelf against some new reed shoots and the highly visible cannibal shad went about doing what it does best and luring them into attacking mode.

They weren't big, but as always what they lacked in size they made up in number. There were loads of vicious little zander holding all along the cover ready to attack. Although the sport I had on this occasion and many others is both enjoyable and rewarding, the small matter of average size has crept into my head. In short, where the hell are all the bigger fish hiding? Earlier in the year I had a few nice sized fish, but of late they don't seem to be showing at all. Whether it's just a natural bloom in the little ones or that the bigger fish aren't interested in going after the lure I am not sure. What I do know is every canal I seem to go to lately is riddled with zander from six ounces to two pounds.

I know it bodes really well for the future as the recruitment in the last few year classes of zander has been phenomenal from what I have seen. Barring any disasters the Midlands canal network could well see a golden age in zander fishing in five years time. For now though I think I either need to increase the size of lure I am fishing to try and deter some of the smaller or fish or possibly try to fish off the edge of such concentrations to try and locate any big old girls hunting the little ones. For now though I think looking to some old haunts that have in the past thrown up some great fish might be a suitable solution for me. If some of those fish have survived they could be very serious zander by now.


  1. I had it on good authority this very morning that the North Oxford was electro-fished for Zander just as the old season ended.

    Will they go/have they gone further?

    Which begs the question what is the motive?

    Removal of invasive species is one thing but that horse bolted decades ago and it doesn't seem to apply to the more destructive signal crayfish.

    It can't be to protect the fishing as no clubs pay to rent it and there are no matches.

    A boatload of Zander makes a valuable catch at Billingsgate Market no doubt.

    Surely not?!

    1. If they did do it George it wasn't around the Hawksbury junction section as I have been dipping in and out of that area since xmas and the tribal drums have been all quiet. I have also just started fishing a new area of the Oxford further down towards Brinklow and found an area that seems relatively well populated with zander.
      Maybe they have done it further down or maybe they haven't done it at all. Either way we all know it's a waste of time trying to remove them as the zander will always repopulate. If the BW or Canal and rivers trust have money to waste on the canals they should get repair some of the damage the crayfish are doing to the banks or use it to put up a few speed limit signs to try and halt some of the bank erosion caused by speeding boats wakes