I think I might be pissing in the wind... I may have hit a brick wall... and quite possibly find myself on the edge of failure. Anyone who has spent any time fishing for zander know they can be fickle buggers when they want and right now they want. I think it started just prior to zanderfeast 54 not long after Jeff Hatt sounded the horn of helms deep summoning us all to the dog shit laden banks of the canal.
Stupidly I thought this might be the right time to tally up my zander captures for the year which I have been keeping a rough note of as the months tick away. After initially adding up all the numbers and double checking a couple of times I came to a total of 197, which I was at first a bit disappointed by. But then I sat back and thought about the figures for a while, did a weird calculation (involving adding up sessions through the year and subtracting sessions on venues without zander and sessions not targeting them) and concluded that I have averaged 3.4 zander for every session where I could have caught them. Now, that might not seem a lot of zander per session but given there are blank sessions in there and that zander, as I recently said, have a habit of being a bit fickle, I reckon that average is pretty good in hindsight.
Averages aside, what's bugging me is the total, or more the three I may have caught but not recorded or the three I need to catch to round out 200 for the year. Now I worked this all out on the eve of zanderfeast 54 and really thought that I might have tucked away three measly zeds on a canal stuffed with them. Well, I didn't and neither did any of the locals; in fact only the visitors scored and they caught as nearly many pike as they did zander which shouldn't be the case on a water where zander out number pike 20-1. So I found myself still three zander adrift when I was guzzling down ale at the end of the zed moot.
A week later and now obsessed by catching three zander, I went back to the Coventry canal on a much warmer day only to find the recent rains were creeping into the canal at every entry point, turning it the colour of milky tea. Still though I was up for it as zander love a bit of colour and I was tooled up with lures, dead baits and even some worms for good luck
Turns out not only was I up for it, but the crayfish were too and the unseasonable warmth had kept them active enough to be a bit of a pest. In several spots my little float did that suspicious slow sinking before popping back up out of the water, and every time my dead roach bait came back looking like something with small claws had been picking away at it.
It seemed I might be reliant on fishing either worms or lures to try and scratch away at my target. Normally I would have total confidence in both methods to put a zander or two in hand, but the only type of fish with any inclination to consume anything were perch of about half a pound. I caught quite a lot of them over the few hours I was out and something seemed a bit strange about some of them. Many of the fish I caught had bloody marks on their sides and swollen vents, which made them look like they had been spawning, if that's possible at this time of year.
Sadly by the time I had to get off home all I had managed to land was a load more of these perch which all looked a bit sorry for themselves. Not one single tiny bit of zandery action came my way, not even a missed run. Now, I have never credited zander as being a particularly wily or clever fish, but it seems that one at least may have cottoned on to my intentions and passed the message round the rest, putting the shun on me and avoiding my baits at all cost. So I find myself with a month until the end of the year and I have suddenly set myself a last minute target to achieve and there is this little OCD part of me that won't happy until I have rounded out that number to 200.
God, I hope I can do it for the sake of my own sanity...