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Zander 

Previously the scourge of every match angler to set foot in the Fens, but in reality, and once it had settled into it's niche in the ecosystem, a fascinating fish to pursue I reckon. 

Since those 97 tiny zander were first introduced into the Relief Channel by the Great Ouse River Authority back in 1963, their family tree has gradually spread throughout large parts of the country, giving anglers the chance to catch these weird and wonderful predators from drains, stillwaters, rivers and canals in many regions. However, I spent a few years on and off trying to get them out of the Cambridgeshire/Norfolk drains and rivers such as the Relief Channel, The Middle Level, The Delph, The Old Bedford River, The Great Ouse, Popham's Eau, the Old River Nene, The Sixteen, Twenty and Forty Foot Drains and The Cut-Off Channel amongst others - with varying levels of success. Hence therefore, my experience is limited to these lowland waterways (apart from one blank weekend on Old Bury Hill lake which nearly ended in me writing off my motor on the long journey back home. The less said about that the better). So anything I have to say is pretty much specifically relevant to these waters, although you may find something interesting enough to try on one of any of the multitude of other waterways that these toothy critters have now infiltrated.

 

When you wake up and it's like this, I reckon it's time to go home.

And when it's so desperate that the gulls are trying to snatch your bait off the hook during your backswing...

Anticipation to the max...

Dick awaits the magic hour.

Come on....

12lb 12oz from the Middle Level

The last thing many a prey fish didn't see!

Oh look, the sun's going down again...

As it does most days.

A cracking brace taken on a hot, hot, hot evening session, when the Bream showed me the way... one on each rod, and I missed another take on the 3rd rod as I was playing the second of these in! Crazy man.

Best from the Relief Channel- 12lb 3oz and well chuffed!

Schoolie Zander taken on a small popped-up livebait- you can see the foam still in place.

Steve, his son Josh, and his monster from the Channel. 17lb 4oz. Every bit as awesome as it looks.

Steve's book- 'Fenland Zander'. He still has a few copies left I believe. You can give him a call on 07771 647534 or mail him at  steve@sas.eclipse.co.uk to get hold of one if you so wish.

Carl and his first ever Zander from the River Delph.

Mate Stewart Downing and a double from the Middle Level.

Mark Vials with his P.B. of 16lb 2oz from the Middle Level in its heyday.

Tony Ward with one half of the biggest brace of Zander landed in one night- 18lb 2oz. A true monster, and the other half weighed over 15lbs too. I think it'll take some beating!

Not a lot gets out of there.

Joe and his first brace of Zeds.

Carl swings in a junior.

A 9 pounder in the magic hour...

First ever Zander, and a personal best still at 14lb 12oz from the Middle Level on paternostered livebait. Jammy sod.

My second ever Zander, at 9lb 11oz from the River Delph. The good fortune continued.

I think I'll be glad when I've had enough of this...

A stonking 12lb 15oz Zed taken on legered livebait from the margins during run-off conditions. I actually thought I'd finally broken the 15lb barrier when I opened the mesh. Must have been hollow.

A perfect example of a Zed from the Relief Channel. Spotless, and probably never seen a hook before.

Leapfrogging the drain after dark is so much fun- especially when it tips it down. Honest.

Mind you, fish like this 11 pounder make it worthwhile, even if you can't feel your fingers!

Beautiful low double out for a picture at dawn.

A rare (for me anyway) mid-day double.

10lb 13oz fish from the famous Dug Outs on the Middle Level.

Self-timer trouble.

Look into the eyes... A 12lb Middle Level fish responsible for waking me up and dragging me back from Heldenbrau-land.

First try on the dinghy and this 10lb 6oz provided the only take of the evening on a 'Trollernostered' livebait.

Very bloody arty indeed.

About hopeless, so whiling away the hours trying to stock up the bait, top up the tan, and get set for the magic hour...

Second go in the dinghy, and a 10lb 7oz on the same method... there could just be something in this you know...

9lb 6oz Relief Channel Zander taken at first light.

 The easily recognisable bite marks of a large Zed. If only it had held on a few seconds longer!

A careful return for a Middle Level Zed.

Sash and an 8 pounder from the Level, which unfortunately ended up as dinner. Very nice it was though. My dad ate some of it too: "What do you reckon to the fish then dad?"

"Yer, its alright. Nice. Why?"

"Oh, cos that Zander was swimming in the Middle Level last night..."

Then he left the rest. Bizarre.

Winter Relief Channel fish in bitter conditions. Begs the question 'Why?' really.

The business end of a double figure zed.

Another chunk of a 9 pounder taken on the 'frog.

Steve checks the sounder to keep us on the ledge.

Stuart with another Middle Level biggie of over 12lbs.

Returned alive- as they always should be.

Paul Woodford with a fat 10 pounder from the Relief Channel.

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