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A quest for Zander

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Well, I'm back in Oxford but my heart and soul are still in the fens. Even though it's been 11 years since I moved away from Norfolk it still has the pull of home and that sense of belonging that can't be replicated. Where I live now looks better on a postcard but isn't a patch on the feeling I get looking over the massive horizon under the vast Norfolk sky.


After a good journey east I met an old friend at 8.30am on Friday at a popular stretch of the Middle Level. Lots of bream and roach were regularly being caught so it was a fair bet the zander wouldn't be too far away, and with three days and two nights ahead of us we thought we were in with a chance. One old boy was already bream fishing, casting a groundbait feeder tight to the Norfolk reeds on the far bank. That's where the bream were being caught, so that's where our baits would be going later!


We picked a nice spot a couple of hundred yards from the bridge and got settled in. In winter you often need to move around a lot to find the zander but in summer they patrol quite widely so you can happily stick to the one swim. Once we were settled we set about pole and feeder fishing to catch some baits. This sidetracked me quite badly, it was far too enjoyable! It took quite a while to get the swim going but by lunchtime we were regularly pulling out perch, roach and skimmers close in on the pole, most of which were far too big to use as bait. I had to force myself to try for the small roach higher in the water, and soon had enough bait for a day or two.


Mid-afternoon we cast out the zander rods. My mate was fishing three rods, one tight to the far bank reeds, one at the bottom of the far shelf and one in the near margin, two with little live roach and one with eel section. I had two rods with small roach baits, one tight to the far bank reeds and the other at the bottom of the far shelf. That's where all the bream were being caught, plus our bank was busy with other anglers and dog walkers.


The excitement at this point was palpable B)


Instead of drop-offs I used ultra light bobbins with an open bailarm, the line held lightly in an elastic band. I've had too many dropped runs with drop-offs and wanted as little resistance as possible. Both rods were legered using little bouyant leger stems and heavy leads, again to minimise resitance. Traces were the 15lb soft drennan wire and small size 10 trebles. The rods were held high to give a long drop on the bobbins.


As we chatted and caught up with each other's lives, we started to get the first signs of interest, small jumps of the indicators - definitely either zander of perch. It was so tense, we were just waiting for a hittable bite. (Rather than waiting for a run as with pike, we hit any bite where the bobbin goes up and stays up, hopefully before the bait is dropped.) These bites continued and you could see where the fish were patrolling as each rod in turn took a hit. Then all went quiet as they carried on up the drain. Then dusk fell.


In classic fashion, just as the light went the bobbin on my right-hand rod crept up to the rod and stayed there - with my heart in my mouth I cupped the spool and hit it, shocked to find resistence and a kick at the other end - a fish was on! It felt reasonably heavy as I pumped it across the drain but when it got in close it went beserk, making three or four good, hard runs, the clutch whizzing. Twice we saw it come to the surface with a big silver flash before powering away again. Whoever said zander don't fight haven't met this one! After those runs I brought it over the net, and it was mine :o


It was obviously a pb, a beautiful, long fish with terrific markings. It was the zander I've been after for several years now, not the double I dream of but not too far off, 8lb 9oz. Many of you will have caught bigger zeds than this but to me this is the culmination of many years of rotten luck, hundreds of miles and missed opportunities. Aint she a beauty?




After resting her until she got her fight back, she powered off back to the depths, and we popped the cork on a celebratory bottle of red wine. Fantastic!


About 20 minutes later my mate's right-hand rod was away and he hit into a good fish which also put up a terrific scrap, taking line and refusing to come quietly. After a great tussle I slipped the net under a big zander - 'blimey mate, that's a double', he said. It was an absolute belter carrying a lot more weight than my fish. This one took an eel section and as he was unhooking it, it ejected a whole half-digested eel. Nice...! On the digi scales she went 9lb exactly, and I reckon the eel was about a pound, so his guess was accurate at the time :rolleyes:


What a cracker:




After that excitement it went quiet, so we sat back and revelled in our successes. Out of the blue at about midnight my mate had a stuttering bite which he struck at and landed a schoolie of about 2lb, a beautiful little zander. We chatted away until about 1am when my left-hand bobbin went up, stayed up, the line pulled from the band and a carp-style one-toner screeched into the night...I hit it and felt the satisfying thump of something on the other end and, adrenaline pumping, brought it quite easily to the net. Another lovely zander, this time weighing 7lb 11oz. Yes, I was pleased:




And that was that! Aside from a tiny pike to my mate's margin rod at dawn, that was the end of the frantic action. During that night we had countless dropped runs, it really was all-action stuff. All day saturday the gale-force wind tore down the drain and then from saturday evening right through to us packing up sunday lunchtime it absolutely threw it down with heavy rain. But who cares - dodgy weather aside, this time we got it right and a bit of luck was with us. I wish I was still there! :)

Edited by Anderoo

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music

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Great report mate. That brings back lots of memories from last winter when I first fished the fens for Zeds. The fish look in cracking condition too, and like you I find myself struggling to stop bait catching.






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Great trip, great story! Nice one, Andrew. :thumbs:

Wingham Specimen Coarse & Carp Syndicates www.winghamfisheries.co.uk Beautiful, peaceful, little fished gravel pit syndicates in Kent with very big fish. 2017 Forum Fish-In Sat May 6 to Mon May 8. Articles http://www.anglersnet.co.uk/steveburke.htm Index of all my articles on Angler's Net

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Nice write up of a trip you seem to have been waiting ages for. I'm glad it lived up to expectations for you. :thumbs:



Angling is more than just catching fish, if it wasn't it would just be called 'catching'......... John

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Thanks folks :thumbs:


They were in absolute mint condition.


The other excitment I forgot to mention was when my mate (who goes by the name of Boilie Dangler on here, some of you may have met him at Wingham) hooked a tench on the pole while bait snatching, which plodded around for a few minutes, then realised it was hooked and tore away, stretching the elastic to about 30ft before smashing him in superb fashion!

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music

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