Lure Blog #11
Zander love Chartreuse & Green shads
After the sun of Spain it was difficult to settle back into the routine of fishing in the UK again. My first trip was to Grafham Water which turned into a bit of a grueler. My boat partner Austin Battell and I started fishing around the famous hot spot the “North Tower”. This area has a reputation of producing jumbo Perch but on this morning it produced “nada, nothing, zip”. We had used a two pronged approach Austin fishing with ‘Dropshot’ rigs while I cast small shads around the Tower. With no takes and no signs of fish it was soon time to move on, next I positioned the boat on a drift to intercept the “Pipe”, that runs from the North Tower along the North shore to the other Tower by the Dam. As we drifted we alternated between “vertical jigging” and casting small 10cm shads on 15-20g jigs in 30-35’ of water. “Still no joy”, this was getting serious, no takes and nothing showing on the echo sounder “fishfinder” screen either. I hate the term “fishfinder” as I rarely use it to look specifically for fish but on this occasion that’s exactly what I was going to do! I needed to find some fish fast before we could confidently settle into fishing mode again.
Spoons are “great hookers” for Zander
I decided to motor towards the middle of the reservoir looking for “deep water”, maybe the fish were here? 30ft, 40ft nothing 45ft, 50ft bingo large shoals of baitfish were scattered all across the bottom, I continued motoring. Occasionally I even saw fish stacked up in the water column looking like Christmas trees, a sure sign these were Perch! With the boat now positioned upwind of the baitfish I deployed the drogue, this slows the drift speed and allows our lures to reach the bottom without having to use heavily weighted jigs. We dropped our shads to the bottom and started jigging, immediately we were both into fish. Perch, not big ones but fish on every drop, god this was FUN sometimes our lures didn’t even reach the bottom before they were intercepted by veracious Perch and the occasional mini Zander.
Mini Zander have big appetites
Our drifts took us through several shoals of Perch; as long as we stayed in deep water we caught fish. As the wind strengthened it became harder to “feel” our lures making contact with the bottom. We gradually stepped up our jig weights until we finally reached 50g, it was now getting really rough so we reluctantly headed for shelter which unfortunately took us away from the deep water. Every time the wind slackened we ventured back out into the deep water, I even changed lines on one occasion from 0.8mm braid to 0.6mm, it doesn’t sound much but immediately my line cut down through the water giving my lure more freedom. The change produced two small Zander on the first two drops, this illustrates perfectly why we love this style of fishing. Small tactical changes can and do make a big difference. The last couple of hours were very quiet until the light started to fade when we started getting takes again. This is typical of predators, they use the “low light” to their advantage pouncing on unsuspecting baitfish. A small Zander for me and a chunky Perch for Austin were our last fish of the day, caught literally minutes away from the boat harbour.
In contrast my next two day trip, this time to Rutland Water could not have been more different. The first day was windless and foggy, without the ‘GPS’ in my sounder it’s quite possible that we wouldn’t have been allowed out. Faced with no wind you might think we would have been happy but these were not ideal conditions. Let me explain, you need wind to drift and cover water which in turn means we “show” our lures to lots of fish, if only fleetingly, that’s why a good blow makes jigging so much more productive. Our lures when jigged attract the attention of the Zander, as the lure drops it falls and swings away from the fish, the angle of the decent is very important, get this right and the next thing you feel is a sharp jolt as another Zander falls to your trickery! In a flat calm your lure moves up and down in the same spot and doesn’t trigger many fish into attacking it. When faced with these conditions we only have one option and that’s to cast our lures, even in 80ft! So this is what we did for the next two days. It takes a lot of concentration fishing in this manner, you have to be able to imagine the path your lure is taking with regard to the bottom, too high off the deck and it’s out of the “strike zone”. You have to consider the balance between lure size, jig weight, line diameter, depth of water, retrieve speed and location of course, get these elements right and you catch fish.
I hope this illustrates why my friends and I are addicted to Zander fishing, it’s fair to say Zander are not the hardest fighters but they are handsome especially when they stare back at you with their double dorsal fins standing erect in defiance. It’s the challenge of tricking these finicky fish into biting the lures that keeps us coming back for more.
Gavin Moyce 23lb 8oz pike
Kieron Moyce with mini Zander
Finally a B-I-G we done to Gavin and Kieron Moyce, this father and son duo went to the effort of getting up stupidly early and journeying up to Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire from Tunbridge Wells with the express intention of catching their first Zander. Not only did they catch a Zander, they also caught several Perch and to top it off Gavin caught a superb Pike!
Well done both of you and let that be a lesson to us all……………………… EFFORT = REWARD!
Tight lines, have fun
Andy owns The Friendly Fisherman in Tunbridge Wells [TN1 2PS], his shop as you would expect is full of everything a “lure angler” will need. Andy is available to offer advice on all things lure and fly fishing related.