It’s fair to say my Trent Zander sessions have been fairly hit and miss. I haven’t fished for them now for about 5 or 6 years so I decided I was going to give them a really good go this year. The last couple of weeks of the closed season saw me preparing my gear although in fairness there’s not a lot to prepare. My zander rig is a fairly simple affair and I was shown it by Archie Braddock. As with all things zander it needs to offer very little resistance when a fish picks up the bait as they are notoriously line shy although in fairness I haven’t caught enough of them to quantify this yet. The hardest bit would be to source small roach to use as deadbaits so I was quite surprised when my local tackle shop had a few packs of 3 inch roach. Once I had chopped the heads and tails off they would be the perfect size.
I arrived at the river around 7pm to empty banks. I brought with me a pint of maggots in the hope of catching some fresh bait that I could use as deadbaits. My preference is for fresh bait but if I couldn’t catch any then the frozen one’s would do. As part of my preparations I had bought some bigger frozen roach and blitzed them in the blender at home to put in my swimfeeder. This was purely to get some smell in the water and draw the fish in.
I cast the first feeder and chunk of roach out about a quarter of the way across river where the depth is about 15 foot. The river hardly moves on the nearside bank so heavy bobbins aren’t required. The one’s I use are very light and I use them on long droppers that I made up from a piece of shooting head fly line. This balances them perfectly. As I was setting up the second rod I looked round to notice the tip on my baited rod nodding away. A quick glance at the bobbin saw it slowly inching up towards the rod. Surely it couldn’t be a fish that quick as the bait had only been in a couple of minutes. I was desperate to strike but everyone i’ve spoken to says to let the bobbin go all the way to the top before striking. The trouble is the bobbin got half way to the top and then stopped. Cursing myself I was in two minds about what to do but I managed to refrain from striking for all of 10 seconds before I couldn’t resist. I struck into thin air!!
The bait looked ok so I filled the feeder up with roach mush and cast to the same spot. I did manage to set the second rod up this time and cast slightly closer in where the water drops off.
About 30 minutes later the bobbin sprang into life again on the second rod in exactly the same manner as the first bite. This time I was determined to strike straight away and it was with great relief that I felt a “thump thump” on the end of the rod. I could tell it wasn’t a big fish but it was such a relief to get the fish in the net. I was elated to get off the mark while there was still plenty of daylight and made a celebratory brew.
Within an hour the left hand rod was away again so I struck straight away and again was into another fish. This one was slightly bigger but not by much. I didn’t care though, I had come to catch zander and that is what I was doing. I felt sure that as darkness fell more fish and bigger fish would come along.
It really was a beautiful evening and the mozzies stayed away, probably due to the smoke from the kelly kettle. As darkness fell my excitement was at bursting point and the left hand rod burst into life again. I struck into a solid fish. The “knock knocking” on the end told me zander before the fish starting to take line. I piled on the pressure to get the fish in before it came up on the surface just out of view. Strange, as this isn’t how zander normally fight. I was then thinking Pikey thoughts before I realised i’d got a decent eel. I’ve no problem with eel’s if they are on the large side but by now it was fully dark and even with the head torch it was a nightmare unhooking it. Foolishly I didn’t weigh it. Probably because it had been a nightmare unhooking it and I was covered in slime. It was only after releasing it did I realised the error of my ways. My previous best eel weighed 2.1 and was caught from the Trent back in 1986. This would have beaten that weight i’m sure as it was about 3 feet long and quite thick.
After that I never had another bite. I fished on until 1am when I decided to pack up and call it a night. I was really encouraged by how the night had turned out. As I drove home I reflected on the evening and how quickly I could get back on the bank for my next zander trip, although there’s a little matter of a Barbel trip first. Isn’t that right Richard?