When I first came to the fens I did not know when I caught my first ever zander 1981 it was going to have such an affect on me and I would have to wait over ten years before I returned and every now and again over them years the thought of going zandering would frequently pop into my mind.
So once I had passed my driving test and got a car its made traveling to places to fish so much easier and with this, one of the first places I was going to go was back onto the fen drains to catch more of these mysterious fish that little was know about .
So eagerly armed with just my pike gear and nothing else I returned to set about trying to catch them. My first season in pursuit of them was one that would see me make loads of fundamental mistakes and also a steep learning curve and frustratingly I caught no zander that season.
It wasn’t until the second year and getting to read the only book out at the time out (ZANDER by N.Fickling & B.Rickards) that I actually started to settle down and fine tune methods and tactics which saw me bank my long awaited next zander.
This really fired my passion for the species more than ever and I craved more of them and tried to learn as much as I could and with this I started to catch a few and becoming a bit more confident I wanted to catch my first double which if you thought catching a zander was hard enough catching a double was going to be even harder.
To say I found this difficult was an understatement as I seemed to either never be in the right place and an early observation I made while I was out fishing for zander was that I never seemed to see others anglers on the steep banks of the fenland drains in pursuit of these fish, this got me thinking either I was in the wrong places or very few targeted them , so getting help from others was not going to be easy and with a double being highly prized nor would if ever getting to speak to others help in locating them either.
So I persisted on my lonely quest in search of a double figure zander and finally I achieved this with a magnificent fish of just over eleven pounds I was over the moon to say the least and well and truly hooked on wanting to continue even more on catching such a fish.
Now I've all ways dreamed of catching a fish of a life time and this was catching a zander of over the 15lb mark this was not something that was going to be easy and a lot of anglers who fish will have self made targets to try and reach and with zander I was no different.
So over the next few years saw me get more fish on the bank consistently and also become more confident in tactics, methods and most importantly getting to know more about when and where to catch them, would hopefully help me in my quest for a fish of a life time.
Now below is an account of the day my dream came true for me.
Now last November was just any normal day and with finishing a job early I was left the rest of the day to do anything I wanted so I weighed up my options between sitting in and watching TV or traveling down to the fens and go zandering and although the weather was not brilliant with the skies clear and a cold evening in prospect I still decided I would go zandering and if nothing happened I would just chill out on a drain somewhere.
on arriving on the fens I decided with good time to spare I could afford the luxury of driving around to different locations which is not all ways possible with sometimes finishing late and arriving after dark and rush about just to get the rods in the water, but today was different I had the opportunity to take my time and pick a spot I felt would hopefully catch me zander.
So after around an hours driving to different venues and checking them out I ended up back on one I had all ready looked at earlier but not favored at first as I just felt it did not feel or look right but for some reason I don’t know why I ended back there .
So a quick walk along the bank and watching the water I soon decided on the spot I picked for that evenings session the gear was soon ready and the rods were awaiting being baited and then sent out to likely spots.
Once the rods were out I settle back and relaxed with a very welcome brew and I looked skywards as the sun was setting there was no signs of any clouds and I did not feel at all confident but then one of the indicators blurted into life and the bobbin rose about 6 inches then stopped then started to rise again I swept the rod back and was met by something but it did not at all feel big but soon a lovely perch surfaced and not a bad one at that at just shy of 3lb and recording an actual weight of 2lb 14oz it equaled my present PB !
This made me think that if the perch were out feeding maybe there might be a chance of a zander as they are the biggest members of the perch family.
The fixed paternoster rod was soon back in positioned just along the side of the inside shelf.
I sat back down quite content with the perch and as darkness fell I sat quietly in the falling darkness and listening to the sounds of the night and all seems to come to life after dark in the bank side vegetation. An hour had past with no more action and I was just enjoying the stillness of the evening when suddenly the fixed paternoster rod sprang into life and a very positive and steady rise on the bobbin could be seen I again leant into the run and was met with a lot of resistance this was no perch! It felt heavy and I immediately thought it might be a pike but something did not feel right and after a few tense minutes I finally got a glimpse of the reflective retina of a zanders eye, yes it was a zander and it looked a very good one at that! the next few seconds seemed to go in slow motion and with the zander thrashing on the surface and its head shaking about like a mad dog I had a feeling the hooks would come flying out at that moment and I would not get my prize fish but for once my luck held and the fish came over the drawstring of the net and it was safe with in the folds of the net.
I peered down at my prize in disbelief and thought this is big could it actually be the fish I’ve all ways dreamt about.
I took it to the unhooking mat and peeled back the net and go to see this awesome fish for the first time properly to me it looked even bigger than it did in the water , with shaking hands and very excited I removed the hooks and trying to contain myself I zeroed the scales and the sling and lifted the fish into the weigh sling and then slowly lifted the fish off the ground my eyes seemed to be glue to watching the needle on the scales as it went round first past 10lb then 11lb then 12lb and kept going it finally past the 15lb mark and settled at 15lb 4oz I was shocked and very happy indeed all at the same time.
I punched the air I was so happy I didn’t know what to do next , I placed the fish into the retaining tube and staked it out and phoned my mate and told him my news and he was more than happy to drive all the way from Norwich to take the pictures and re-weigh it just to make sure in all my excitement I had not weighed it incorrectly .
Soon my mate Paul pulled up and walked down and checks it, it was correct 15lb 4oz and congratulated me on my achievement.
After some pictures, I took it down to the waters edge and as I held her there to recover I couldn’t help having one last look at this magnificent fish before it swam down into the darkly depth of the drain.
Kevin Wyatt Nov-08