As I'm sure everyone knows, the rivers have been in a terrible state over the Christmas period and with the high levels and colour putting the pike off I decided on a change of tac. Zander don't mind the colour so I thought they might be worth a go while the pike fishing is so poor.
I arrived at the venue just after first light and the water was coloured but not too bad. On went a 15g, 5/0 jighead and a 4.5" Kopyto shad in my favourite yellow flavour but after an hour nothing had happened apart from a couple of tiny dinks that may or may not have been zander. I changed the lure for a 4" Kopyto in red and orange and sent it out on a long cast. About 10 yards towards me I had a solid hit and struck when I felt the pleasing headshakes of a fish on the end. As I started to bring it towards me it didn't feel anything special but then the line went slack! I thought the fish had come off but I quickly wound down and was relieved to find that it had just bolted towards me. It came across the river not doing much until it got close then it started to fight, a typical dogged zander fight with plenty of headshaking. It made a few deep runs in the margins and seemed to be bigger than I first thought. At one stage it left a big vortex on the surface even though it was too deep to see. By now I thought that it might be a half decent fish and as always with zander I started worrying about the hook pulling. A couple of minutes went by before it came to the surface where a big head shocked me. With knees shaking I led her to the net and my mate netted her first time. I could see it was the biggest zander I'd ever seen but wasn't prepared for her width and depth when we lifted her out. Big zander are very impressive when you see them on the bank.
I lay her down and opened her mouth, which had the bite power and dentistry of a pitbull, and the lure was a good 5" back with the hook firmly embedded in a fleshy part of the mouth. I put her in the sling and onto the scales which sailed round to settle on 13.11lb... a new pb to start the year off...
I spent the next 15 minutes drinking coffee and grinning like an idiot before I fished on. Although I'm not a regular zander angler, maybe 10-20 short trips per year, I've been after a big one for a few years and to catch one as my first fish of 2014 was a bit surreal.
The day passed by with just a few missed zander hits and a bit of lure fishing for pike but they were unlikely to feed and no hits came my way. I was happy with what I'd caught anyway so wasn't too bothered but about an hour before dark I had another solid hit from a zander. This one fought all the way back, but didn't have the power of the earlier fish, but I was still very happy to get my second of the day at 6¼lb..
Short of catching a 30lb pike I couldn't have wished for a better start to the new year and I went home a very happy man.
Happy New Year to all and I hope 2014 brings you all the fish you wish for!