November 2017 Blog


Fishing can be a bit perverse at times – I put a lot of time in for pike during September and October – - because it’s one of the best times for pike in my experience, and I really struggled. I caught loads of fish, but, frustratingly, only a few went over the magical 20 mark – “struggling” is possibly a strange thing to say as “struggling” for one person is another angler’s good season, so it is a personal thing really. I did have a couple over 25lbs and a 30! So I didn’t really do that badly did I?

Though I still think I should have picked up a few more 20’s, and felt that I wasn’t really maximising my catches, it is this “urge” that keeps you going when it is tough. Venue choice was probably my biggest mistake, and I spent too much time on Chew when I should have gone elsewhere.

Chew has been terrible for me this year, so much so that I gave up two of my days on there- Yes, I caught fish, but for some reason all my fish were jacks or low doubles! I don’t know what I was doing wrong, and to be honest I don’t think I was doing anything wrong, as, looking about on the days I was on I saw a lot of blanks going on. Yes, there were some good catches but they tended to be so patchy – to the extent where usually it was one boat or even one angler in the boat that caught fish, while everyone else around blanked!


My watercraft can’t be that bad though as I was the next boat to Kev Shores 39lber, and then moved and plonked myself next to another boat that had a 42lber! Sometimes you have to laugh, as that is the 5th time now I have been the boat next to someone that has caught a 40+ pike! So if you see me on there and want to catch a 40 statistically anchoring 50 yards from me is a good bet!

November and December are my two least favourite months for pike fishing. What usually happens is that I always forget how pants they are, and put too much time in for too little reward. However, this year the opposite has been true for me, and November has fished its head off for all species! I’ve had big zander, massive perch and another 30lb pike!


Which goes to show how important venue choice is and picking the times to go out, and I think I spent too much time sitting on one water for a big one when I should have been traveling more and targeting other species, but you live and learn, and shouldn’t go chasing the rainbow!


After a hard October, after the pike I decided I would have a go for some zander, at least I can usually catch them! I had also just done a service on my engine, and wanted to give it a good run and test it. So an early morning start saw me motoring at speed down a slightly dropping tidal river. At first light you hardly see anyone  on the river and it’s a great time to be out, but after an hour or so of motoring I started passing lots of debris and foam in the water, which must have been caused from the bit of rain that we had a few days ago. The problem was that I hadn’t reached where I wanted to fish yet, and I had already caught up with the flood water from a couple of days ago – so I had miscalculated the flow rate of the run off.

I suppose most wouldn’t have worried too much about it, but, knowing from past experience, foam like this kills the fishing. So I did a U-turn and headed back up river for about 100 yards and plonked into a nice- looking swim that I hadn’t fished before, but at least it was after the flood water, so it would be dropping nicely throughout the day.

As I was being lazy I had only brought bait tackle with me. Sometimes it’s nice to simply sit and watch the rod tips, plus I had just had a big delivery of bait which I needed to somehow fit in the freezer! So I tackled up and quickly wacked two nice freshly frozen Rudd out into the river, one right on the flow line and the other just on the edge of a slack. I fully expected fish straight away and I wasn’t wrong, when within 10mins one of the rods thumped around with a good fish on the end of it. I was getting all excited about a big zander when the fish went up-stream in the current, and then dived down under the boat in a very pike-esqe way and that is what it turned out to be – a nice fish around 15lb mark.


I had a couple more pike then decided on a move, which has to be the best thing about boat fishing, you can simply up anchor and try somewhere else. Hopping around like this is a great way of covering water, and, usually with zander, if there are any within the area you catch them within the first 20 mins anyway. The next move turned out to be a good one – as more or less straight away I bent into what was obviously a good zander that gave some frighteningly savage head shakes as it came open- mouthed towards the boat. Luckily after a few kicks I was relieved to scoop it up in the net, and quickly set up the camera as it was obviously a good double.

After a few snaps I put her back and she powered off back into the flow where she had come from. I then set about re-tackling the rod as everything in the boat was in a mess, and I needed to put a fresh trace on. I usually use a 26lb 49 strand wire for my zander fishing as I think this gives a nice flexible trace which enables the hooks to move around and set easier in the Zander’s mouth. I don’t think zander are put off by wire on dead-bait rigs at all, and it’s not something I give a second thought to now, as I have caught thousands of them on wire. There is a problem with very supple wire though, and that is – on big rivers or rather on big flow it is prone to twisting and kinking if the bait is spinning.


Now if a bait is spinning I think you are quite unlikely to catch zander anyway, as they like bait right on the deck. However I do like to use a long trace, which can mean a greater chance of twisting in the flow – especially if debris get caught up in it, which is typical in the river. So what I have started doing in the last couple of seasons is to use a composite trace with the hooks on 49 strand wire, then the main bit of the trace being stiffer 7 strand. They are a bit of a faff to rig up, but I like the presentation, and the heavier 7 strand pins the bait to the bottom where the zander want it to be.

Fish-on painting

After re-rigging everything I managed a couple of pike from the same swim, which is quite unusual as normally, in my experience, you very rarely find both species in the same area together. But that was it, though it turned out to be a glorious autumnal day and on days like this it is just nice to be out – though its even nicer when you are catching fish! With nothing else showing I called it a day around 16:00 as I find that you rarely get much when the sun sets anyway, and it’s much easier to get the boat out in the daylight.

As true winter now approaches I think I will concentrate back on the pike as there have been a couple of very nice fish showing on a couple of venues I like so no doubt it will be back to blanking again!