Thankfully it wasn’t all downhill
Intending to do a two-night lower Severn zander session, it meant I had some work to do in the days beforehand. This wasn’t helped by an external problem that saw the websites I am responsible for, the editing software and my e-mail set up all refusing to play ball. And with so much of my working day revolving around the internet, I was left playing catch up when things finally got back to normal. But what more of a carrot do I need than a fishing session, so working early and late and of course full steam in between, I was able to load the car late on the Wednesday afternoon and set off for the deepest darkest Worcestershire / Gloucestershire border country.
It was a beautiful autumn day when I arrived, and as you can see from the accompanying video, I set up while wearing just a Wolves shirt. Anything more than an overnighter and I will always opt for the bivvy – pitching area permitting of course. Even if the weather is good, I like the space and the comfort of the bivvy for an extended session. And with an unexpected downturn in the weather on day two I was more than happy to be under the full protection of my Trakker Armo, as opposed to a more skimpy overnight shelter. In fact I bought this particular bivvy almost two years ago with the idea of zander fishing on the lower Severn. Wet, cold and windy days and nights where you are waiting for fish are best spent well protected from the elements.
The first zander of the session
Within two hours of casting out, I had a zander on the right rod which was fished underneath a purple willow just downstream. It was a good confident take and a solid fight, and while it was still light as well. The headline for this week’s article comes from my thoughts at the time. So many sessions have started off like a rocket blazing through the air on bonfire night, and yet they have ended just like the aforementioned firework – falling to the earth in darkness and disappointment. But thankfully it wasn’t all downhill this time! In fact over the next couple of hours I had several enquiries. Even though they didn’t materialise, at least the fish were there. Typical zander though, picking at their food.
The first night itself was quiet and fishless. But reeling in one of the gudgeon deadbaits after 9.00am in the morning, a length or so out from the bank and there was an almighty explosion, as if a mini mine had been detonated beneath the surface. A pike lurking near the bank had been more than tempted by the sight of a fish passing in front of its nose. It put up a very good fight but a moment or two later I was netting a long but lean fish. When you are pursuing zander you will invariably pick up pike, and vice versa of course. But it’s always nice when your plans consistently come right and you catch more of your target species, as I did on this trip by netting five zander to just the one pike.
The pike that snatched
It was after I returned the pike that the weather turned. It started off with cloud moving in followed by a few spots of rain. But very soon the sky was a dull grey depressing colour and the rain fluctuated between light drizzle and heavy drizzle. And that’s pretty much how it stayed until I packed everything away on the Friday morning to head for home. I spent the day waiting for some action on the rods that never came. I did doze off a little but more or less sat there on my chair in the bivvy entrance willing the bite alarms to come alive. The rain of course made no difference to the river and it remained low and sluggish. But although I describe it as low, that is relatively speaking, as I still had twenty feet of water a length and a half out.
The second zander came at about 6.15pm, so it was still light; although only just as a damp miserable overcast day draws in darkness much more than a bright sunny and cheerful one does. It was just a small fish, but regardless of the size zander need to be treated with care. Their ferocious appearance hides the fact that they are very sensitive fish. And just like pike they are totally misunderstood by so many anglers. In fact I would say ignorance is a word that is not out of place to describe the attitudes and actions of many. Just this week I have been told of a local club that actively encourages its members to kill all pike under 12lb. You’d think people would know better in this day and age instead of holding to mediaeval beliefs about predators.
The final zander at first light
The second and final night on the bank saw me add another three zander. They were at regular intervals through the night and into first light (although the photograph looks like the middle of the night!), and combined with the constant enquiries and mini-runs it meant I had a busy time. At the slightest indication of a fish I am on the rods waiting for developments. By the time 4.00am came round I was wide awake listening to some Motown on my ipod and posting Twitter updates on my Blackberry! I commented on one of the tweets that I was in jet lag mode! And just like the shift worker, whose body adapts and copes with unusual hours, my body clock has also become very flexible. So straight after fishing I drove home, unloaded my gear, showered and shaved then got back to work. And with lots to do I went right through till 10.00pm on the evening. Super-human or what!
The weather conditions on the session meant that my nature watching was quite limited. I did see a small group of seven lapwings on a ploughed field, along with c.75 black headed gulls. And indicative of the time of year a couple of flocks of starlings that numbered just into three figures frequented the area, again spending much time feeding on the newly ploughed fields. But top sighting was definitely a brown hare that I spotted on the field behind the flood bank on the last morning. I just about managed to catch a few seconds of dimly lit footage as it raced towards the safety and cover of a hedgerow. I like hares, they are brilliant and so that literally did ‘make my day’.
(click icon above for this week’s video)
(Published October 2009)