The weekend started with a wander down the Coventry to try out a new rod I've just bought. You see I've become a bit obsessed with finding the perfect rod to suit my canal lure fishing. By that I mean a rod that feels right and can perform multiple tasks, as I've been looking for a lure rod that can function both as a dropshot rod and light lure rod. The Sonik lightec I've been using for a while is an outstanding light lure rod for small hard lures and soft lures, but is a bit soft in the top section, which means it doesn't transfer much information back up the blank when fishing the dropshot with it.
Its actually proved a hard task, as rod manufacturers would prefer you actually bought a rod for each discipline and so don't make an all round lure rod from what I can see. In any case this has led me to actually look for a rod which I think will be capable of multitasking even if it is labeled as something specific. A mistake I think I'd been making for a while though is only looking at light lure rods and thinking they could work as a dropshot rod, but then I saw a review of a dropshot rod on-line that said it worked well with small soft lures as well and realized maybe I'd been looking at the problem this the wrong way round. Once I'd handled several different dropshot rods I settled on Wychwood agitator dropshot rod in the 7ft version which is rated to cast 3-18 grams and I was dying to get out and have a go with it.
Unusually for me there was no real specific target for this little outing. Literally I just wanted to see how this new rod performed fishing both drop shot and small jigs. So I dropped on a section of the Coventry that is generally well populated with predators and began by using a super light dropshot rig to target any fishy looking structure. Straight away I could feel small perch plucking at the tiny pink shirasu lure I was using. After quickly landing a few small perch a little zander zipped off with the lure after hammering it close to some brick work on my bank.
A few stops later I switched over to fishing a 3 gram jig in conjunction with one of my favourite cannibal shads. The rod worked perfectly with this light rig and the stiff dropshot rod actually transfers so much information back up the blank. Literally as I lifted the lure off the bottom at any distance I could feel the paddle tail vibrating away. Happily the local perch were being obliging and quickly they were snatching the little lure as it dropped to the bottom, really engulfing the lure as they attacked.
So far so good with the Wychwood agitator dropshot rod; it does seem to be able to perform both as described as a dropshot rod and as a general purpose light lure rod. This hopefully should enable me to only carry the one rod and switch methods when I need whilst having confidence that the rod is doing a good job in any scenario.
A couple of days later I arranged to meet up with a fellow zed head Mick Newey to fish the Avon at night for zander. But a trip to Stratford with the JB and BB gave me a glimpse of the condition of the Avon and all confidence drained away after seeing it was very low and incredibly clear. On this occasion sense prevailed and we rearranged to instead have a session on a bit of canal that has produced some big fish quite consistently. I was almost tempted to take the new rod along, but as this bit of cut has such good form with big zeds I wanted to gamble and go big, taking instead a medium sized outfit so as to fish bigger lures.
We met up before first light miles away from anywhere and just as I arrived the rain began to fall gently in the half light. By the time we'd fished one known haunt, the rain began to pick up pace. By the time we were at the third spot it was torrential. We had no choice but to just shelter as best we could under some trees, Mick in his water proof jacket and me in the poncho that I always carry in my bag. As we sheltered I had little choice but to abandon the lure rod which Id been casting repeatedly all morning, and this left me staring intently through the rain at my float rig. Nothing whatsoever happened whilst it was raining which was a bit perplexing as the dank conditions looked perfect for the zander to be feeding. Eventually the rain abated and once my soaking hat was rung out and abandoned it seemed like we could happily get out from under the trees and restart the session.
Not long after the rain stopped dimpling the surface, the canal seemed to spark into life once again. Fish were rolling up and down the canal and after persisting in one spot as I was convinced it held fish, a zander finally hit the 90mm spiky red head shad I was working along the bottom. After waiting it out in that chilly rain that little zander really put a smile back on my face.
With the weather now a bit more conducive to fishing, we both switched into proper zander fishing mode. With three dead bait lines and a lure rod on the go, we worked over every area we fancied for a maximum of thirty minutes before moving onto the next. This is the great thing about fishing with other zed heads, they fully appreciate the need to constantly keep moving to find feeding fish. So many times before I have just kept moving all day until I hit a sweet spot and the action just goes off instantly. On this occasion I don't think there was ever going to be a sweet spot though.
We both worked hard moving constantly and covering each swim we targeted well by moving baits round, in my case covering every square inch with lures. Luckily for me I found another similar sized fish to the first close to an overhanging bush and then later in another swim a boat went through and that seemed to get a few inactive fish moving, in turn sparking a missed run for each of us.
The final fish of the morning sniffed out my dead bait in the now chocolate coloured water in exactly the same spot as where I'd had the missed run and turned out to be yet another similar sized zander.
Time soon caught up with us and even though we could have gone on and on looking for more spots and scratched a few fish out of them, prior engagements called us away from the canal. With one Mick landed early on and the three I scratched out after the rain stopped it might not seem a bad result, but on this canal this was a bad days zander fishing. On any other canal in these conditions this would have been a blank I am sure. On some occasions on this canal I've had four out of a swim in under half an hour and it's not uncommon the get some action every swim you fish. But whatever the case it was good to catch up with fellow zed Mick and put a bend in the rod, and we are already planning going back once we've had a few frosts.