Monday, 18 November 2013

Expedition Zander Part II

The fishing this last week has still not been the best:  rivers not ideally suited to my quest for grayling. Still high, after a Wednesday night downpour. The same night dislodged many, many leaves from the trees, probably the largest leaf fall of the year.  About a hundred and twenty percent of those fallen leaves are now flowing downstream, making legering difficult. The stillwaters are quiet following the fairly rapid temperature drop of the last week or so.  Nevertheless I went out to  a gravel pit to seek perch.  A couple of carp showed themselves, one within an easy lob of the worm, the other right on the far side of the water.  Once again, one of the only fish to show was right near to me. It is at times rather uncanny.  I threw a lobworm on top of it, mainly as a perch bait, but should the carp choose to take it, I would not be overly complaining.   It didn't,  neither did the perch, and I feel a strongly worded letter to the editor coming on.   

But after the industrial background to the zander fishing of last week, to be out in the countryside, out of sight of man and his creations ( gravel pit apart) was gratifying.    The usual robin kept me company and begged for maggots, successfully, for who could not give in to such pleading,  but apart from a couple of magpies in the woods behind few birds moved on the land.  All was very peaceful.   The usual mallards, coots and tufted ducks adorned the water, and as with my last trip, I saw some curlews.   But far more of them this week.   A few solo birds and pairs were bonuses to the loose flock of about a hundred curlews that flew
Curlews at Distance ( Wrong Lens Fitted)
over the lake 3 or 4 times.   Their enigmatic eerie calls carried well over the water.    Too far away for a good camera shot, but close enough to make a positive visual ID.   Later a similar number of lapwings were to pass over.   I would like to say a shoal of a hundred big perch also passed through, but if they did their passing went unnoticed by both myself and my lobworms.

The river still being too high for my comfortable fishing, I decided on part two of the zander hunt, and headed back down to the Midlands.   Someone pointed out to me that last week's mini zander cost me about forty quid, in petrol costs alone. Over 300 pounds Sterling per pound of zander caught. But, and I know that this makes little real sense, either logical or economic:  it was all paid for by my pensions: government pension and company pension.   They give me money every month, and I do absolutely no work for it.  So although I know, deep in my brain,  that I have paid for it all during my working career, it still now seems very much  like free money.   So I spend it on fishing without so much as a nervous twitch of the wallet.

This week Jane guided me flawlessly to the destination, about a mile or so from last week's spot.   The tongue-lashing I gave her last week had worked, and she navigated  without hitch or argument.  I arrived with two hours of darkness in hand , rods built and primed , just needing baits  for the cast.   Minnows added, the rods were cast into the canal boat channel, where they swam about until daylight, unimpeded by any nearby predatory presences.   As daylight broke, I re-cast them very near to some moored barges, on the assumption that any local zander would now be seeking to avoid the light.   Two or three times the
Getting a Little Bigger....But Not Much.
minnows went crazy, causing the small floats to bob about dramatically.   But no runs came.   Later, when a decent roach splashed in the boat channel, I threw a minnow at it, or rather into the same spot as it had showed itself.   The float never settled, but immediately made off, if a little jerkily.  A strike hit a fish, which proved to be a small zander: well under a pound but much bigger than last week's fish.   

Jeff Hatt, of Idler's Quest blogging fame came to visit and stayed for a chat.  Local lad. ( How was the jam Jeff? ).  Jeff writes with far more flair than I.  My scrawlings are, I feel, contaminated by my years of working in a scientific research and development environment.  Writing dry reports has not helped my blogging style one jot. Jeff's blog article last week shows him riding a bicycle along the towpath carrying his rods and tackle.  The photograph reminded me of one of my long held ambitions, which is to be able to cycle with my own fishing gear to the nearest river.
My Next Fishing Vehicle. ( Photo: Snow White Productions)
A little differently to the approach used by Jeff though. On Tuesday evenings I run a juggling and unicycling club, teaching people both skills.     Being of somewhat unsound mind I want to ride to my local stream by unicycle, or maybe by reverse steering bike. It is a couple of miles to the river, and I still need a little more practice first. I will get there. Possibly in one piece.

Jeff was to return later for a couple of hours' roach fishing.  The roach were also to prove uncooperative, probably due to the week's rapid temperature drop, for Jeff was confident that he should in theory have caught something. One of my minnows had another crazy few seconds, the float

Foulhooked Mini Zander

bobbing about like mad, but no actual run.  I lifted the rod to find a foulhooked mini zander, of a size that might suggest it to be the brother of last week's fish.  Time to theorize:  was it really the minnow making the float jiggle about like a "Strictly Come Dancing" competitor? Or was that small zander scrapping and fighting with the minnow, unable to swallow it?  The minnow itself was still lively, and last week's mini zander was hooked a good minute after the float movements had ceased.  Have all these crazy float movements been due to immature zander?  And if so, should I be using a different bait?    Jeff had suggested a chunk of dead roach rarely fails.   I tried it for quite a while, but the fish were still playing away from home, the roulette ball consistently landing on the zero.   One more run produced a tiny perch, which had performed a Herculean task by half swallowing the minnow.  Its mouth was so full of minnow that I had immense trouble getting the big single hook out safely.
Very Greedy Perch.

Birdlife on the canal was restricted to mallards, a couple of swans and a moorhen.   The aquatic equivalent of sparrows, pigeons and starlings.  Very common on just about every water I visit.  But I did get a half decent photo of a stray goldfinch.  Always a delight, the goldfinch.




Goldfinch

So, do I return for another bash at the zander, or do I wait until more settled weather before I try again?  I think I may wait a while.     Success has been largely eluding me for about three or four weeks now.   I might just  have a go for a barbel or two next,  something a little easier, to enable me to carve a notch or two on the rod handle.   We will see.  Decisions, decisions.  If I do go fishing for barbel I will have to ignore the far preferable à la carte menu of perch and grayling.  I wonder where I put those dice?

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