Sunday, 25 October 2009

Ryton Pike - Part 1

It's a while since I've fished at Ryton so it was nice to be back even though I wasn't after my usual quarry the Carp, today I was after a Pike.
Barry had fished there a few times this Autumn and blanked so he was determined to catch one. I had the first run and didn't even see the float go and was a bit quick with the strike, I felt a good fish on the end of the line then everything fell slack, it had spat out the bait. The half a mackerel had been scored with deep teeth marks which started at the first hook, so close!
About half an hour later Barry had a run and like a professional he first opened his bail arm and let out some line, everything stopped for a moment then the fish made off again, the bail arm was closed and he stuck the rod into a very satisfying curve, fish on. The Pike stayed fairly deep during the scrap and gave a couple of good runs before coming to the net.

A nice fish of 13lb 14oz's.

I had another take later on in the afternoon which caused the float to bob a few times and move a short distance before stopping, after about thirty minutes I pulled it in only to find another set of teeth marks on my bait.

A blank for me then!

The Quest for an Urban Zed - Part 5

Friday's on the Coventry Canal are becoming a regular thing and I was there again this Friday. I headed to my usual stretch as I'd seen a few features that were worth investigating with a bait on my last visit but I'd not got round to fishing them on that trip. I didn't get a touch till it was just about dark then I saw the Isotope glowing tip of my rod give a couple of sharp taps, Zander.

Not big and the only fish of the evening but now that we are turning the clocks I am looking forward to a few longer sessions in the dark to see if I can bag some bigger Zed's.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Oxford Canal

Saturday and Sunday were both spent exploring new stretches of the Oxford Canal near Coventry searching for new Zander holding areas. It's a slow job, moving swims every twenty minutes and with the swims being only a few yards apart, you don't cover much ground. I'm beginning to have an eye for a good daytime lay for these predators and providing it has some depth, I'll put a bait on it, I've already found some good spots to put a bait in the evening and wait for a hunting fish to find and I finished both these sessions fishing one of these spots. Apart from the boat traffic this stretch of canal is lovely to fish compared to NED central where I fish on a Friday, I can have a civilised conversation with passers by that are usually accompanied by a dog and not a can of high strength lager, there's less of a risk of getting run over by motorbikes and I have a much higher concentration level as I don't have to keep one eye on my back.

Saturday was very quiet with only one of the target fish picking up a bait in the evening just as it got dark, it was a new peg that I'd not fished before so was a result. I did find a new spike on the outside of the Zed's head which I only discovered after releasing the fish, I had blood everywhere from a cut in my thumb that I use to hold they fishes head whilst unhooking, this Zed was a bit lively on the mat and did have a good thrash around.

I do carry a small roll of plaster in my tackle box and a small piece stopped the flow of blood and allowed me to carry on fishing.

Sunday looked promising, I had a small fish early on with the plan to fish a marina entrance at dark, the stories I'd heard about this spot sounded good so I had to give it a go.
That evening was a blank.

Monday, 19 October 2009

The Quest for an Urban Zed - Part 4

Friday, Coventry canal, the same stretch as last week. The tall tree's were the first target swim, there was more than one fish in there last week and I was aiming to catch more than one today. Things looked good as within a few minutes of casting in my first bait in I had a slow steady tightening of the line, I struck and missed but the hook came back minus the bait, I had two more casts with the same result, each cast had a smaller bait as the fish from this swim last week was no monster. After chucking out the fourth bait of a small section of Roach I had success and the first fish was soon on the bank. It wasn't long before a second fish took the small Roach mounted on a double hook which is a pattern that I've not tried before and seemed to do the trick with these smaller baits and fish.

A third was not far behind.

Three small Zander within the first hour was a good start but everything fell quiet and it was time for a move. I headed back in the direction of the city centre and stopped at a few spots along the way that looked as though they would hold a fish or two, nothing. The final couple of pegs I fished as it got dark and the first was the spot where I had a fish over four pound last week and then the basin next to the treble four tunnel, I was expecting to see some action here as there were shoals of prey fish on the surface all over this area. Packed up at around 8.30pm with no more takes.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

After dark Zed

Saturday afternoon, the plan was to fish a few likely looking areas of the canal where a zander or two might hold up when not on the feed, the goal was to be in the spot I had the big one last week just as it gets dark then stay there till late. We both struggled for a while but Barry was the first to bank a Zed of around three pound, a good start. I followed that with one of around a pound which was OK as I was catching but things could have been better.

We tried to locate a few more Zed's before dark but failed so we made or way to the final peg of the night just as the light started to fade and settled down for a few hours fishing. It was cloudy and we had a good orange glow from the city centre behind us, we even had a firework display at one point. Not long after dark I had a tap on one of the rod tips followed by a second, I picked the rod up and payed out a small amount of slack line and as soon as I felt a pull I struck into a head shaker, It felt good and put a reasonable bend into the 2lb test Carp rod, it stayed deep right to the net and I wasn't disappointed when I saw it hit the back of the net, it looked a good fish.
After a quick service with the tool kit and a picture or two I was very pleased to see the scales pull round to 5lb 2oz's.

Whilst resting the Zed in the margins Barry had a run on one of his rods which was dropped as he hit it, this was the only activity we saw for the rest of the evening.

Monday, 12 October 2009

The Quest for an Urban Zed - Part 3

Friday, I fished the stretch of canal between where I lost a fish that I thought was a Zed last week and the back of Tesco. My chosen rig had been simplified from the previous weekend and was just a small weight sliding on the main line with a bead to cushion against the swivel then a wire trace to a single size eight semi barbless treble, I've got rid of the floats for now to cut down on any drag that might spook the Zeds into dropping the bait. I started the session at a spot that looked promising as there were several small fish on the surface and every now and then there would be a larger splash as if something was having a go at them. After giving this spot ten minutes with nothing I tried another spot with a group of tall tree's on the far bank which cast a large shadow over the canal. This spot looked as though it would hold a fish or two and within a few minutes I had a slow pull on the line which resulted in a small Zander of around a pound, I discovered at this point that both sets of batteries for my camera were dead and had to use the one on my phone to get a shot.

I've been told that after catching a zed from a swim, if you carry on fishing the same swim there is a chance that you could catch another as they tend to shoal together when not hunting. Another fish section went out onto the same spot which was a deep depression on the bottom, the cast that went in next to this was was into around three to four feet, this was more like five. A few minutes past and I had another slow pull on the line and struck too early pulling the hook out of the fish chunk. I quickly re-baited and cast out again and after about five minutes I had another slow take, this time I waited for a couple of seconds then struck, I felt a few head shakes before the hook was thrown free.
I continued to fish this spot which was now very quiet but I could still see something chasing the fish at the first spot I fished at so decided to move back, whatever it was I was determined to catch it. I put a couple of deads out and had a take straight away, it turned out to be the smallest Pike I'd ever caught.

I headed back towards the city with the peg I lost a fish at last week the target for finishing the session at around dark. I dropped some baits onto a few spots along the way but had no takes, One bush looked promising but I was distracted by a tramp that decided to stop for a chat and I missed a take. The line pulled up tight without me noticing and if I'd reacted quicker I might have been able to hit whatever it was before it dropped the bait. it was nearly dark and the next spot along the path was the one I wanted to bait and wait. I put the two deads out either side of the bush just on the drop off and put the rods down with slack lines, it was dark now but I could just make out the line leaving the tip ring in a reflection from the road lights on the treble four, I half expected the same rod as last week to go and concentrating my eyes on watching this rod I failed to notice the line tighten up on my second rod but I did see a gentle tap at the tip and was on it like a shot, I hit a very satisfying weight with some head shaking thrown in and it came to the net fairly easily. The photo is a really crap as it was on the phone with no flash and only a poor headlight to light it up, you can only just make out the reel upside down next to the Zed.

On the scales it went 4lb 8oz.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Quest for an Urban Zed - Part 2

Sunday, back on the Coventry canal, this time I was within a stones throw of the M6 motorway. After another look at the satellite views on Google I felt this stretch had to be investigated. It was the usual set-up with deadbait's fished either side of a couple of features that looked good, I was doing the same as Friday and giving a spot around ten minutes before moving a few yards to the next. After a couple of hours I found a feature very similar to the one I fished to on Saturday, a Blackberry bush, I gave it a go and had a fish tighten my line within minutes, after a quick scrap I had my first Coventry Zander in the net, a reasonable fish of around 3-4lb, in my haste to return the Zed the photo was rather poor.

Bad photo alert!

I continued to fish this same spot hoping for a second fish but the shoal must have moved on so I continued to move down the canal to the next feature. At around 6pm, I decided to move back to where I'd caught the only Zed of the day and leave a couple of baits out to see if anything would return. I was surprised at how many boats were still moving this late in the evening but with Hawksbury nearby a lot of these were probably returning to their moorings after a day out, it did give me a good chance to check that the bait was clear of any debris before recasting. Just before seven, nearly dark but with a glow from the full moon and a hint of blue still in the sky I could not believe one boat navigating it's way up the canal by spotlight, this was ridiculous. I wasn't ready to call it a night so reeled in the baits and cast them straight back as the boat passed, after the second bait was lobbed out and the line tension checked I noticed the tip of the first rod just give a slight nod, a quick check of the bobbin and it to was moving ever so slightly, I looked into the water and could see some leaves and twigs swirling around after the boat and put it down to this. The bobbin now started to move as the line tightened, I picked up the rod and could feel something moving around on the end of the line and struck, everything went solid and I could feel something thump back up the line, this felt good. The fish came straight into my bank before hitting the top, what a fish, at first I thought it was a Pike but it wasn't.
I'm new to Zander fishing and didn't think I'd see one this big for some time. I left the fish in the margins and had a flap around in the dark organising everything. The Zed unhooked itself by spitting out the deadbait and hook which was lucky as I'd forgotten to bring my head torch, photographing was a bit 'hit and miss' in the dim light but I was happy with the results even though I didn't smile in the pictures. The fish went back with a very health kick from it's tail and after a couple of phone calls I decided to call it a night.

The Zander!

9lb 11oz's

Windy Wasperton

Saturday, Wasperton. It was my turn to introduce Barry to a section of river that he hadn't fished before and to be honest, I'd only fished there a couple of times and not done that well but this trip was to be a little different as predators were the target species. As forecast, the weather wasn't on it's best behaviour and a very strong gusty wind blew straight in our faces, we were there to have a good look round with a view to fishing some proper sessions for Pike and Zander along that stretch, we'd both brought rods to have a go and deadbaits were the tactic. we cast these to some very likely spots, one of them being a huge raft of debris under an oak tree, this was the first spot to we tried, I'd fished this spot a few weeks ago with Chub in mind and caught nothing so I tried a whole sprat and allowed it to drift in the current beneath the raft to see if a Pike was at home, nothing. We tried several other 'Pikey' looking spots and got no interest in our baits, when the sun came out at around lunch time we could see how clear the water really was, crystal clear, you could almost see the bottom, the bright sun wasn't ideal for a predator and a bit of colour in the water would have improved our chances. We weren't to keen on continuing the fishing trip at Wasperton as the strengthening wind were starting to remove small branches from the tree's and we both felt that a move was on the cards, Barry suggested a stretch of canal he knew where a Zed was almost guaranteed and within an hour we were setting up for a spot of canal Zander fishing.

The spot was very calm and sheltered from the wind, being the weekend we did have some heavy boat traffic to contend with but we knew it would dye down towards the evening. We both felt fairly positive about this spot as Barry had fished there the previous week and had a few Zed's on the bank, within an hour Barry had his first fish, an excellent start.

This fish was shortly followed by a series of missed runs then a second smaller Zed for Barry, I had one fish throw the hook before we had a quiet spell. It was during this break in the bites that I noticed the line angle to one of my baits had altered by several yards, there was no indication on the tip or bobbin and I didn't see the line tighten at all, after a quick check of the bait it was back out on the spot, within minutes I had a jerky tightening of the line, I let the fish have a bit of slack before striking, fish on!

I was so glad to get a single fish on the bank!

Monday, 5 October 2009

The Quest for an Urban Zed - Part 1

Friday afternoon, a new challenge, to catch a Zander from the Coventry Canal in Coventry.
I'd heard of a few spots to try and some were confirmed by a passer by who commented about the eastern Europeans spinning for their evening meal and taking a few for the table. I enquired as to whether they were Pike but the answer was Zander, I was on the right track. I headed to a short stretch that I thought would produce a fish but saw plenty of likely looking spots along the way and I had to put a dead bait onto these spots and give them ten minutes. I didn't need to give them any longer, I've been told that if a Zed is there, It'll take the bait straight away, the same goes for Pike. It took a little longer than planned to get to the stretch I had originally intended to fish but on arrival it looked as good as it did on Google.
After a fishless hour on a spot that looked so promising a move was on the cards, I could see a large overhanging bush a hundred yards up from where I was and it looked just as good.
Within a couple of minutes I had two dead baits either side of the bush just on the edge of the drop off, the light was beginning to fade and that magic time just before dark had arrived, if I was going to get a bite, it was now and as though I'd just placed an order one of my floats bobbed a couple of times and slowly slid away from it's spot, I struck into something that shook it's head, I thought it was a Zander and was right when I saw it hit the surface, I pulled it towards the net but it had another head shaking fit and threw the hook, gutted!
I put another bait onto the spot and stayed until it was dark, well as dark as it would get with all the street lights, I was happy to have found a zed in Coventry but need to get one on the bank next time.