Saturday 12 December 2015

BH 6: Hooked Up!

4.00pm, 6lb 2oz, lead. I've adapted Russell's fin-up-photo technique to work for self takes.

So Wednesday was an eye-opener. I'd just bagged the nine pounder when I wrote the report so I was delighted, but over Thursday when I thought about it they weren't great stats.

Runs:20+Missed Runs:14+
Fish Hooked: 6Fish Landed: 5
Hooked In Mouth:3Hooked In Throat: 2

Less than a 25% hook up rate. It makes you think; was one of the missed runs a double?

4.15, 5lb 0oz, lead.

I have been pike fishing for zander, after all I know a bit about piking and these are predators. I've scaled stuff down but essentially it's the same approach, and with a bigger hook I think it would work - it works for Jeff.

But I can't use a bigger hook. I've hit a dead end.

4.55pm, 3lb 7oz, lead. At this point I'd totally forgotten about the fin-up-photo technique!

Time for a completely new approach, and this morning - with the hangover only a work Christmas party can bring - I decided to turn things on their head. I'll start with the hook as, when it comes to zander I seem to be obsessed with them!

Hooks: I can't clamp around the jaw or find skull holes - I'd need bigger hooks, but perhaps I don't need to. Everything in their mouths that isn't teeth is covered in skin - I only need a pinch, I don't need to find gaps in the skull of a chub or barbel.

Barbless size 8 chemically sharpened hooks were attached to soft wire traces. Small enough to find a pinch, strong enough to land the biggest fish in the lake.

5.45pm, 3lb 15oz, float.

Tackle: I left the predator rods at home, today I took a quivertip and my float rod. My bait runners also stayed at home, I took two front drag reels loaded with 12lb line.

Tactics: Same as if I was fishing for chub. The quivertip was on a tight line, pulled round so I could spot a drop back bite. The float again was on a tight line and was shotted down so I could just see the tip. Bail arms were engaged - I wasn't after runs I wanted bites.

I sat down (normally I stand when I'm piking) with my hand hovering over both rods - I lined them up so I could watch both at once and any movement would be hit instantly with a hard strike. Exactly the same as chub fishing.

6.20pm, 5lb 4oz, float.

Bait: Roach slice, they seem to like them, but this time it was a tiny slice. I needed enough bait to tempt them but needed it all (and the hook) in their mouth in one go - this needs more experimentation - they have big mouths when flared.

Usually I give them some free samples in the way of sprat slices but today I forgot them - did I mention it was the Christmas party the night before?

6.40pm, about 2lb, float.

And it worked! Any little knock or rattle was instantly hit, cutting out the 'run' part of the process - and almost every bite resulted in a fish.

I will need to repeat the process to make sure it wasn't a fluke - but at the time of writing I think I've found a way to catch zander! Stats from today:

Bites (Not Runs):11Missed Bites:2
Fish Hooked: 9Fish Landed: 9
Hooked In Mouth:9Hooked In Throat: 0

That's a much better picture!

6.50pm, 6lb 4oz, float.

And they really have woken up fight-wise, I was using lighter rods and was aware they might only be hooked though a pinch of skin - but they really didn't want to meet me - absolutely brilliant stuff!

Nine zander in 4 hours. I'll take that.

7.10pm, 3lb 7oz, lead. And 7.20pm, 3lb 1oz, lead.

Thanks to everyone who commented on the previous zander posts, your encouragement, tips and ideas were great - gave me a lot to think about. There is still a long way to go in understanding these fish but I'm hoping this is a leap in the right direction. And Jeff, the size of the circle hook from Wednesday is here.

Predator Challenge: 247lb 8oz


  1. Being a big hook fan on canals, I've deliberated about the Bury Hill problem should I return and thought that maybe fishing for zander as I would fish for perch might work! Minced fish ground bait and a straightforward waggler approach with a size 12 hook holding just a sliver of roach flesh. As you've noticed there's either bone to wrap a big hook around or there's skin without much flesh that only small hooks will find. I suppose they are very like perch. They don't have much flesh in the mouth either.

    If I had to face Bury Hill often, I think it would drive me round the bend! But you seem to have cracked at least part of the problem here, Brian. I think I'll give it a whirl myself, see what happens.

    1. Oh yeah, and your 'was one a double' doubt haunts me! On the canals then sure, at least one must have been. But at Bury Hill I think it's pretty certain you did

    2. It was hard to abandon all the previous experiments but they weren't working (for me at this time). It was great to have a win, can't wait to get back and see if it was a fluke.

      The fish I hooked and lost on Wednesday was due to a rig failure - exaggerated loop knot that pulled. But James caught the culprit last night, still with my hook at 3lb.

    3. When shall we meet so I can give you the hook back.....

      A good night for me and the enigma code was well and truly cracked !

    4. Good work James. We'll have to head back this week before a good frost puts them off the feed.

      Not going to use circles again until the ones from the States arrive.

      Had 2 rig fails in the last 2 years for zeds, the first the wire inexplicably snapped and this one where the wire didn't like the knot - tested it at home, works on line not on wire.

    5. Interestingly I've only had 2 rig fails for pike in nearly 30 years. One wire break and one where the Hook pulled out of the crimp mid-fight with a nice double - where again I got the hook back 20 minutes later when she decided to take a bait again.

  2. good report. agree with "fin-up" photos. ... too talented - Brian could pretty mutch catch... nything on a safety pin! ;)
    ps: looking forward to next posts....

    1. Russell invented the fin-up technique, I'm not taking credit. And up until this trip I was struggling to catch them on hooks - let alone safety pins!

      Hopefully it wasn't a fluke, can't wait to head back and test it...

  3. addendum - much/anything
    - sorry for typos