Saturday 13th January – Back on the drains!

Well it has been a while since ventured back onto the drains after the pike, due to all the rain, wind and extremely cold weather we have been having, and also waiting for the drains to fine down, it was time to get back on them.

I decided to do the roving approach, as the particular drain I visited is perfect for this.

I arrived just before Sunrise and started the walk to the first swim.  Once I had arrived I fished it for an hour or so, but it was very quite.  I kept this up all day, aiming to cover as much water possible, which was definitely the way to go, as I found out.

After a good few hours walking, and stopping at various locations I found a perfect open swim. I cast one rod out to the right of me, baited with Sardine and the second rod with Smelt. After about the half an hour, the float dipped on the second rod and slowly disappeared into the depths. I wound down and struck into the fish, minutes later I was awarded with a lovely upper double on the bank. All 15ib 60z of it!

This was the only fish I had, but worth the hours put in, trying to find them.


It was a very short, thickset fish and I think she will be a very big fish in years to come. Great fun, and hoping for few more of these in the last couple of months of the river season.



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Wednesday 10th January – Yet another Zed session!

Had my usual evening fishing session, so as usual went after the Zeds, as the conditions seemed perfect.

Finished work at half five and arrived at the river just before seven. Conditions were perfect nice cloud cover, slight breeze and comfortable. It was a bit of a contrast, as last time I went, it was bloody freezing!

After I had settled in, I put the kettle on for a brew, the right hand rod beeped a couple of times, then it turned into a one toner. Struck into the fish and  in it came, another zed.

It wasn’t as big as the last one I caught on my previous visit, but very welcome and a lovely little fish.

This was the only action I had all evening, but cannot complain.

Great to be catching these again!


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My 2017 Zander Quest in a Nutshell

Well as regular visitors are aware, I really enjoy my pike fishing, but the zander has more of an edge for me and can be a challenge, which I enjoy, and thought it would be fitting to write purely about my recent zander exploits, as my normal pike sessions I write for the diary this time of year have been rather unsuccessful recently.

My last zander from the drains came to me back in December 2015, when I had a stunner from the twenty foot drain. Despite regular trips to the fenland rivers and drains, each year from September to February, I have been very unsuccessful in getting this now rather elusive fish. I am still trying to find out why.

However, this year, I think it might actually be starting to look up for the fenland zander.

Back in August, I bumped into an angler, who was lure fishing and was catching loads of juvenile zeds from the Ely Ouse in the town centre.

Not long after that, a friend of mine took his nephew out, and he was fortunate to land a small zed on dead bait, from the same area. I wanted a piece of the action, but was unfortunate, I just had a small pike.

I have also heard various reports about Zander showing up in the middle level drain more frequently aswell.


Due to being unsuccessful on various occasions, I decided to go back to the drawing board and review my methods, using the internet and experimenting with different setups.
After trying various methods, I found one I was happy with.

I tried it out Roswell Pits a well known zander water, and was successful in landing two zeds and one pike on the same night, back in October. As you can imagine, I was very happy.

I returned a couple of weeks later, and had yet another zander and a pike.

Obviously my new methods had worked, so I will explain what adjustments I have made below. Nothing complicated really. All I have done, is fine down my usual pike and catfish rigs.


I always tend to use 15ib mono, not a big fan of braid for zander fishing, due to it not being able to stretch, and can also cause some resistance. I also have the rods pointing at an angle, in a dead straight line towards the water, again to minimise resistance.

Terminal Tackle

I use a sliding ledger setup using Fox RAGE Predator run rings and buffer beads, rigged up with Size 10 ten semi barbed trace connected to a Fox RAGE Kwik change trace link, so I can change traces with ease, if needed. I also modify the run rings, by adding a tiny small feeder clip, so I can change my leads to different sizes with ease.


I use small dead baits. In this case, I was using bleak and roach.

Bite Detection

I use the Fox  swinger arm system with the sliding weight set as close to the bank stick clamp as possible, to minimise resistance, I also adjust the bait runner to the lowest setting possible, i.e. enough for the ledger weight to drop to the floor without any assistance, and in a smooth, timely process. Sounds technical I know, but works for me.

Happy with the new methods, I wanted to put these into use on a proper fen drain, but again failed!

I think on that particular occasion, the amount of silver fish in the area probably gave the zander more of a better option, then my dead baits on the bottom. I think if I was using live baits, the results would of been different.

After scratching my head and trawling the internet, I finally found a couple of venues which has been consistent in producing zander recently.

These were the River Nene and Well Creek.

So I decided to make the drive after work one evening in December, to Well Creek.

On arrival, the river looked perfect, and I was feeling positive.

I cast the rods out. In the first hour I was there, I had a couple of dropped takes. I wound the baits in, and could see those classic puncture marks. I am convinced these were schoolie zander passing through and chasing the silver fish, as could hear fish scattering on the surface in the darkness.

With hopes high, I made a slight tweak to the bait runner, and within minutes I had another take, and this was a proper one toner. I wound down and struck into the fish. I hooked into and could feel the characteristic head shake of a zed, but without warning the fish dropped off. Gutted, I checked the trace, and replaced it with a new one. Size 10 again.

It went quite for an hour or so, then the right hand rod beeped a couple of times, then screamed off. I wound down and struck into the fish, it was on. The fish was keeping low, and was shaking it’s head, I could feel my heart pumping as had a feeling it was my target species. It then broke the surface. My headlight caught the fish, and then those eyes. I knew it was a zed. At the point of cheering, I kept calm and landed the fish. Once landed I cheered. Sad I know, but it has been a long time!

I admired the fish, took a photo and let her go. unfortunately I forget to weigh it, but at a guess I reckon it was between 5 and 7ib.

After a brew, I recast and sat under the umbrella reminiscing my success, then the rod screamed off again. Hoping it was another zander, but it was lovely little pike.

After releasing the pike. I packed up the gear and headed home, as didn’t want to get snowed in. I reckon if I stayed longer, I would of caught a couple more. I am definitely going to keep trying this venue for the zeds, hoping for that specimen one day, watch this space!

What about the fenland zander now?

I was happy with what I had, but it took a lot of work and time to find them.

It just proves they are still out there in the fens, but not in the numbers they once were. We just need to work that little bit harder to find them.

However, as for the Ely Ouse, it was good to see the high number of juveniles come out this year, so it could again, produce those big fish in the future. I certainly will keep at it!

Anyway Tight Lines and a Happy New Year!






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Saturday 2nd December – Lincolnshire Drains

I have a contact over in Lincolnshire, so arranged a visit to try the drains over there. Left home just before dawn, and got there just as the sun got up. The first venue we tried was the Sibsey Trader.

We arrived to find a lot of surface weed. After a good drive, we eventually found a weed free swim. We setup up and spent the morning there. I blanked, but my mate had two. On Jack and  lower double. It then went quite, and we headed over to the hob hole drain, not miles from Boston.

This was unusually low for the time of year, but apparently this is the standard winter levels for the drains out here, which is different to Cambridgeshire/Norfolk drains.

Anyhow, not deterred we gave it a go. I had a fish take the float fished sardine, but unfortunately, it was abler to shake the hook off. It also looked a good fish aswell. I was gutted, but not prepared to give up. Carried on going, but nothing.

If I had more time, I probably would of fished into the night, but had a hour and a half drive home to look forward too.

Overall it was a great day and in great company. I am looking at revisiting in the new year, before the season finishes.

Plenty of potential in the area.


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Saturday 25th November – My local drain

Usually a good spot, but not on this occasion. That’s fishing though!

I had a couple of hours on my local stretch of the Old Bedford/River Delph.

Tried a couple of swims, but no fish on this occasion, as run out of time. Nice couple of hours, but will make time for a proper session, before it floods for the winter.

Got some good photos, which makes up for it though. Still love it down there.

Sunset over my local drain.




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Saturday 18th November – Twenty Foot Drain

Had a full day out in the fens today. Was a very slow session. Got to the drain very slow, and started off in my usual hot spot.

Unusually I had nothing, not even a run. I sat it out to lunchtime, but moved on.

I then moved on to another of my favourite spots, but there was a match, so was unable to fish it. Running out of ideas, I started to head back through the fens, hoping to find a spot. I was lucky to find an area where a couple of drains criss cross each other and dropped in a couple of float setups. Within minutes, the left hand float started to bob and then disappear beneath the surface.  I struck into the fish, and was into a lovely fish. Not quite a double, but not far off. Took a photo, and released it back into the depths. I had no more after this, but was running out of time. so packed up.

As I packed up, the bailiff arrived. I had a chat and the bailiff mentioned an area of the drain, that belongs to the club, but very rarely gets fished.

He happened to mention that a few twenty’s have come out over recent years, and might be a worth a shot, if you are prepared to wander.

As you know, I do like my roving sessions, so will give the said area of the drain a go ait some point. Watch this space!

The only pike I was lucky enough to bank today. Not massive, but better than blanking.


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Wednesday November 8th – Time for a cheeky lunchtime session!

I am lucky enough to work within five minutes drive of the Old West River, so more than enough time to have a cheeky lunchtime session.

I have visited before with my pike rod but blanked, but wanted another go with the float setup after the roach.

I was aware of an area that is well known for it’s roach and again within five minutes of work, so I took a drive over there.

When I arrived the river had a slight flow and looked perfect.

I already had a float rod partly set up in the car, so was able to set up and cast out pretty quickly.

Within minutes, I was into a decent fish, at first I thought it was a perch, but I was wrong. A lovely pristine roach graced the net.

After a quick photo, I cast back out.

Within minutes I had another one of the same calibre, then a bigger fish.

At first I thought it was a ‘proper’ Roach, but after taking looking a closer look, it was a lovely Roach/Rudd hybrid.

This continued for the next half hour, and I had quite a few of these, and they were still biting when I had to pack up.

It was a great short session, and I wished I had more time. I am planning to return this weekend, and may even take a pike rod with me, and see if I can winkle one out.

Great Fun!


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Sunday November 5th – Middle Level

Lovely sunset over the fen drains. Taken on the way home.

Not had full days pike fishing yet on the drains yet, so fancied a go.

Arrived at the drain a couple of hours before light, and had a go after the zeds.

I had nothing at all which was a shame. I then had a couple of hours catching some live baits and when I had enough baits , I got the pike rods prepared.

One was rigged up with a float fished live bait and the other on a sliding ledger dead bait.

I had nothing until mid afternoon, when the ledger rod screamed off.

Struck into the fish, and landed a 6ib 2oz jack pike.  It was caught on smelt.

The conditions were not right as it was full on sunshine all day, and the pike didn’t show until early afternoon when it started to cloud over.

Overall it was great to be out again on the drains, but shame the pike were not that hungry.

Will be back again very soon.

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Wednesday November 1st – Ely Ouse

Determined to try and get some zeds from the ouse, as has been a while now,  I visited a stretch on the Ely Beet club, which was once a zander hotspot. After setting up in the dark, I cast out both rods. One to the opposite bank, and one in the centre channel. It was very quite until around 9pm when I had my first run.

It was a very finicky bite and I could see the tip moving slightly. I struck into the fish, but missed. On checking the bait, It had a couple of puncture marks. Most definitely a zander, and probably a schoolie.

As I was packing up around 11pm, the rod beeped once and the buzzer screamed.

I ran down the bank from the car, and struck into the fish. It tore off down the river and back up again.  It felt a lump. After the fight, it then went slack, and I thought I lost it.

I tightened up, then it shot off again, then it went slack. The fish was gone.

Not sure what happened, but was gutted. Definitely thinking it was a good sized pike.

After this, I just finished packing up and went home.

Will be back, and the signs are looking good for me, so will not give up!

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Monday 23rd October – Great Ouse, Littleport

I had an evening spare after work, so I headed down to the stretch of river at Littleport, where I planned to go yesterday to try for the zeds.

Arrived there just as it was getting dark. Cast two rods out one near some tree roots and one out in the middle. I was feeling positive, but it was not to be.

Very disappointing as the conditions seemed perfect. Two lads turned, and had some nice pike out during the week, which was good to know.

Will try it again, but probably in the daylight hours. Don’t give up that easy!

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