I keep reminding myself that I am due another zander session, and so this week, with a couple of nights free to go fishing, that’s exactly what I did. Being very restrictive in terms of location, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that I set off for the lower Severn. The stretch I am currently fishing involves a round trip of almost 100 miles, which with 80% being motorway and a further 9% good ‘A’ roads, assuming I can choose when to set out and there are no unexpected delays on the way, I can be there in no time at all.
The one factor though that has increasingly become more and more important in my own fishing is the cost of petrol. Gone are the days when I would do three evening sessions on the lower Severn, setting out in the afternoon and be back in bed by the early hours; gone, simply due to the price of petrol. I own a Rover 45 and when I fill up, that’s £40 gone at the pump. So four trips to Tewkesbury and that’s pretty much another visit to the gas station on the cards.
Hence I now prefer to do prolonged sessions, with an overnighter at least giving me ‘value for money’ as far as fuel v fishing is concerned. And with the car parked up for a couple of days the fuel needle is not moving in the wrong direction either. I don’t want to give the impression of being a miser by the way, as that is definitely not the case. I never grudgingly start the engine and it doesn’t become a personal issue between the fuel pump and myself every time that I visit the gas station, it’s just that I have become more aware of the need to get value from the fuel that goes in as far as fishing is concerned.
Arriving at the River Severn, the weather was very summer-like. The sun was bright in the sky and the ground was rock hard. It was difficult to imagine that just a few weeks before the whole area was submerged and under water. Of course the locals won’t forget that fact so easily, and a conversation that I had with the friendly farmer on whose land I fish confirmed that. Being of an older generation, he even had tales to tell (although not first-hand but related to him by others) of the big floods of 1947 that devastated the area. He told me of a local house where someone had put a mark on the wall sixty years ago to indicate where the water level came to, and also that a new one had appeared courtesy of the recent deluge, which was a good eight inches above that.
My plan for the session was to fish for small roach during the day and then to present them as livebaits during the hours of darkness. I had plenty of bites but they were all lightning quick, and so I ended up with just a few small skimmers in the net come darkness on the first night. It is a waste of time fishing deadbaits on the bottom as the eels strip them down in a matter of minutes. Perhaps when the water temperature cools and they aren’t a problem it may be worthwhile, but at the moment it’s a nightmare.
I had to wait until the morning to get my first zander bite and I struck into a fish and played it to the side. I got the net in the water and was just about to lift the fish over it when it came off. It wasn’t a monster, as far as experienced zander anglers would be concerned, but it would have been a personal best for me. But I wasn’t disappointed as there was another night to come and further opportunity to get amongst the fish. However, the night not only drew a blank but didn’t even give me the pleasure of having a fish on the end.
I have a lot to learn about zander fishing, that’s for sure; but every time I have done a session (which I can still count fingers on one hand, so I am a complete novice) I feel the learning curve is definitely going in the right direction. Some people may think that fishing is fishing and all you do is cast out and hope for whatever comes along. But specialising means that you are very focused in terms of your target fish, and individual species do require a different approach and mindset from the angler.
Having said that, once you reach a reasonable standard then it isn’t that difficult to then move from one to another. The angler who has fished for carp exclusively for the last twenty years will find it easier to adjust to barbel than the man who has never picked up a rod in his life. There may be a certain amount of re-education required, but the foundations such as watercraft, understanding bait etc have already been laid. So there’s hope for me yet!
(Originally published August 2007)