'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

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LittleRed
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'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

Post by LittleRed »

Im gearing up this year to fish various, large, featureless Fenland Drains this year in search of primarily big Zander, And the odd Pike should they obviously pickup the bait. My aim is to walk stretches with a roving kit, Two Rods, Day Shelter for the weather and a net. I'll be looking to spend about an hour in each swim as suggested, Dotting half roach baits all over the place on a blockend feeder rig with chopped up deadbait inside while keeping my rod tip up high and waiting for twitches. I feel like I'm really going to struggle as this is the first time doing this type of fishing and Fenland Zander in the stretches I am to fish are something of a rarity it seems these days, However I've not been able to top a Zander of 8LB and I think this is my best shot of a Zed over 10lb mark.

My kit'll consist of 2x 1.75lb Rods, 2x 5000 Reels, Blockend Feeders (Heavier the better?) with a Large Run Ring with chopped deadbait, With a trace with either halves or full roach. Basically, The setup suggested by the lads over at Korum on Youtube. Again, An hour per swim recasting every 15-20 minutes(?). I'm thinking I might squeeze in a Dropshot / Jig Rod also while my two Dead rods are sitting.

Has anybody done this type of fishing for Zander and do you have any serious advice or tips on bagging a few Zeds, whether that be tips on where to drop baits, adjustments to tackle or even how far to move up the stretch while roving. I'm going to be devoting the whole season to this instead of my usual good sport Pike lure fishing so It'll be a pity to blank each and every time. I'm excited, But equally nervous.

Thank you.
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Re: 'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

Post by suffolk si »

I had my first few goes after fenland zeds this year after catching quite a few from the Trent. I found on the fens once you found fish they usually were caught within half hour, also very fresh baits( we were killing our lives to use) far out fished frozen ones. Like all-fishing , location is key imo, just keep jumping 20 yards or so as most of the drains o fished looked completely featureless and fish would be in an area that seemed no different to other ones for me
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Re: 'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

Post by cookiesdaughtersdad »

Personally I wouldn't bother with the feeder method and this will also lighten the load and agree with, Si in that I would stay very mobile and after a good walk, leapfrog rods every 15-20 minutes (or move swims as you feel) or so back towards the car.

Cheers, Alan
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Re: 'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

Post by LittleRed »

Cheers lads.
I know you said location is key but Ive heard numerous reports that Zeds are far and few between in the Drains. Ill be fishing a couple that don't have a high catch rate report.. are the numbers really that low? Should I be expecting a lot of blanks? I would say exactly where Ill be fishing but Im not sure on the rules as to sharing locations and am slightly wary regardless.


Most my fishing for them has been done in smallers Rivers / Creeks that has an AOK number when you find them, But the stamp of fish is on the smaller side, Most 4 or 5 lb.


What bomb sizes would you guys suggest also? Ive got 50g Blockends, But if I decide to follow the above advice Ill have to invest in some Grippers.
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Re: 'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

Post by fenland piker »

I would avoid the feeder technique as it has a high probability of attracting the mitten crabs which are a nightmare when deadbaiting, especially at night. Fresh deadbaits and roving until you find the fish. Look for areas that are harder to reach and will get less angling pressure. There are features on some of the Fen waters if you know where to look, it depends what part of the Fens you are thinking?
There are certain areas (without naming venues) that have a better record for the larger zander. But they turn up in areas you wouldn't expect.
Ironically some of my largest zander (9lb+) have been caught in the middle of the day, several on large sea baits intended for pike and one on a really large spinner. A couple were caught in the most unlikely areas for zeds and I can only assume these were fish moving through.
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Re: 'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

Post by LittleRed »

Thanks Fenland Piker, Really will think about primarily using ledger methods instead of blockend feeders.
I will be fishing in and around the Kings Lynn and Downham Market area. Mostly KL on waters on the ticket. I would like to venture further out but currently not driving.
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Mark Phillips
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Re: 'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

Post by Mark Phillips »

On and off, I've spent over 25 years fishing the fen rivers and drains for zander. The most effective method, apart from lure fishing, is a live bait. Roach, chub, dace are my favs. I tend use a float paternoster or sunk float paternoster on the deeper waters. If you don't or can't use lives, then a freshly killed live is the next best bait, then oddly I know - lamprey, they do like them and I've had quite a few doubles (by accident I guess) when pike fishing on that bait. Sea baits? Yes they catch zander and in fact my biggest from the fens came on a half mackerel, but for numbers of fish I'd stick to fresh coarse baits.

Location is your problem from the bank - there are areas where they seem to like to be and some are not obvious at all. It took me quite some time to find the most productive spots and they never seem to change over the years, which is a good thing. Don't think you have to fish the most remote spots either, some of the better areas are often ones that see a fair few anglers. Zander follow the bream in winter on one of the bigger rivers, so that's one thing you should look for. They are funny old fish mind, some of my best zander sessions have come on the coldest of days - even trolling lures when the river was partly frozen has yielded some red letter days. Talking of lures...

Lure fishing is more effective for numbers - as you can cover so much more water - I haven't got the time to go into detail, but fishing with jigs from the bank is the go to method, but crank baits and spinnerbaits work well too. Town centres with lots of moored boats in winter are a safe bet, else it's a case of covering ground until you find them. Often with school sized fish, you'll get several in a row when you find a pack. I would use lure fishing to locate zander and then go back and bait fish the more productive areas to winkle out the bigger ones. The best method though, trolling lures, end of. It's been a few years since we had the boat on the fens, but my return is imminent (should upset a few folk, LOL)... when conditions were favourable, we'd do well, including plenty of bigger fish. Crank baits always catching the Lion's share of fish or vertical jigging using the current or the trolling motor to cover water.

Good luck for the new season.
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Re: 'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

Post by LittleRed »

Thanks Mark, Some solid advice which I'll take into account.

I've been doing a lot of lure fishing for the past two or so seasons with good enough success on Zander, However nothing over 8LB which is my current PB. I aim to catch a fish over 10LB. I've not done much jigging on the Drains I aim to fish this season due to the sheer size in comparison to smaller sections of River which I had been fishing, I found fishing these large featureless drains quite demoralizing spending hours upon hours, day after day jigging without a single bite. The way I look at it, At least if I'm fishing baits I can rove about, sit down and enjoy the scenery with a cup of brew - With an extra rod out - Bonus! Not only that but it'll also be nice to have a bit of protection from the elements in the form of a day shelter.

I'll defo be taking a jigging rod with me however.
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Re: 'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

Post by Mark Phillips »

LittleRed wrote: Mon May 06 2024 19:39 -
Thanks Mark, Some solid advice which I'll take into account.

I've been doing a lot of lure fishing for the past two or so seasons with good enough success on Zander, However nothing over 8LB which is my current PB. I aim to catch a fish over 10LB. I've not done much jigging on the Drains I aim to fish this season due to the sheer size in comparison to smaller sections of River which I had been fishing, I found fishing these large featureless drains quite demoralizing spending hours upon hours, day after day jigging without a single bite. The way I look at it, At least if I'm fishing baits I can rove about, sit down and enjoy the scenery with a cup of brew - With an extra rod out - Bonus! Not only that but it'll also be nice to have a bit of protection from the elements in the form of a day shelter.

I'll defo be taking a jigging rod with me however.
I hear what you're saying, it can be hard work grinding with lures on the drains. You only need to take a boat on some of these waters and you'll see large areas don't have many fish, especially in the colder months. Location, as ever, is everything. I would say though, featureless waters often aren't, if that makes sense. I look for anything that is different, a narrowing of the drain, some kind of bankside feature - just a small bush can be enough or if the banking is raised or lower. That usually indicates a depth change. I can think of one drain that still does some decent zander and they tend to get caught near the bridges. Looking for bait fish or grebes is another reliable way on finding the predators.

Drains can be hard work for zeds, even if like me you know the areas or spots to fish. I'd always say, fish the big river - you know the one... as you get into the deeper stretches, fishing on the downstream, inside of bends is a good bet. I'd stick to lives if bait fishing, you'll get way more zander. The bait fish like to sit in the slower water in my experience, so I'm always looking for those areas in winter... then there's spots that do fish for no reason at all - well so I thought. Once I got a boat and the sonar out, those spots immediately made sense. You would not have a scooby when bank fishing, but as an example, a 200 yard stretch where we did quite well for zander fishing fishing baits from the bank - turned out the bottom of that stretch was like a ploughed field, with lots of undulation. I had quite a few decent fish along there, including a mid double, also we had a few pike over 20. It was a great spot and of course, the bream were there. If you stand on the bank and look at it, it's just a straight bit of featureless looking water. Often makes me think how much time we would put in trying different areas and how many hard days we had, but I suppose it's all part of the game. It almost felt like cheating when you use a boat with modern tech. Anyway, I hope you get some good fishing and I sense you'll enjoy the journey.
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Re: 'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

Post by LittleRed »

Mark Phillips wrote: Mon May 06 2024 20:24 -
LittleRed wrote: Mon May 06 2024 19:39 -
Thanks Mark, Some solid advice which I'll take into account.

I've been doing a lot of lure fishing for the past two or so seasons with good enough success on Zander, However nothing over 8LB which is my current PB. I aim to catch a fish over 10LB. I've not done much jigging on the Drains I aim to fish this season due to the sheer size in comparison to smaller sections of River which I had been fishing, I found fishing these large featureless drains quite demoralizing spending hours upon hours, day after day jigging without a single bite. The way I look at it, At least if I'm fishing baits I can rove about, sit down and enjoy the scenery with a cup of brew - With an extra rod out - Bonus! Not only that but it'll also be nice to have a bit of protection from the elements in the form of a day shelter.

I'll defo be taking a jigging rod with me however.
I hear what you're saying, it can be hard work grinding with lures on the drains. You only need to take a boat on some of these waters and you'll see large areas don't have many fish, especially in the colder months. Location, as ever, is everything. I would say though, featureless waters often aren't, if that makes sense. I look for anything that is different, a narrowing of the drain, some kind of bankside feature - just a small bush can be enough or if the banking is raised or lower. That usually indicates a depth change. I can think of one drain that still does some decent zander and they tend to get caught near the bridges. Looking for bait fish or grebes is another reliable way on finding the predators.

Drains can be hard work for zeds, even if like me you know the areas or spots to fish. I'd always say, fish the big river - you know the one... as you get into the deeper stretches, fishing on the downstream, inside of bends is a good bet. I'd stick to lives if bait fishing, you'll get way more zander. The bait fish like to sit in the slower water in my experience, so I'm always looking for those areas in winter... then there's spots that do fish for no reason at all - well so I thought. Once I got a boat and the sonar out, those spots immediately made sense. You would not have a scooby when bank fishing, but as an example, a 200 yard stretch where we did quite well for zander fishing fishing baits from the bank - turned out the bottom of that stretch was like a ploughed field, with lots of undulation. I had quite a few decent fish along there, including a mid double, also we had a few pike over 20. It was a great spot and of course, the bream were there. If you stand on the bank and look at it, it's just a straight bit of featureless looking water. Often makes me think how much time we would put in trying different areas and how many hard days we had, but I suppose it's all part of the game. It almost felt like cheating when you use a boat with modern tech. Anyway, I hope you get some good fishing and I sense you'll enjoy the journey.
Definitely seems I need to change my perspective on finding features on these Drains. On the little sections and outlets I've fished prior, Theres just an abundance of in your face features, And after a season I was quite easily able to locate the Zander even if not able to pull them out every session.. Yes, a quirky fish indeed with weird habits!
I believe I know what River you're on about when you say 'The big river'. At least, I hope I'm not mistaken :laughs: Unfortunately, A boat with modern tech is out of my reach for the time being, So it's certainly going to be a grind, However you've got me hopeful that theres light at the end of the tunnel. I shall be devoting the entire open season to these Drain Zander, I'd be happy to just nab one or two, with a few filler Pike in between!

One thing I do find interesting however is that a lot of people, Including yourself are suggesting Lives. I've always assumed that halved top and tail sections of a Roach were the Go-To for Zander... No idea, I'll be sure to grab a cheap PVA Foldable carry-case and a cheap aerator to suit and have some fresh lives on hand.

Can't wait till it's time... Cheers again Mark!
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Re: 'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

Post by paintman »

LittleRed wrote: Tue May 07 2024 10:16 -
No idea, I'll be sure to grab a cheap PVA Foldable carry-case and a cheap aerator to suit and have some fresh lives on hand.
Think you mean EVA? - PVA is water soluble, very useful as small bags, string & tape & heavily used by the carpers.
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Re: 'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

Post by suffolk si »

lives far outscore deads on the trent for zeds for me (big ones too) but with my limited experience on the fens i havent really seen a preference for deads or lives yet. i am a fens novice at best though!
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Re: 'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

Post by fenland piker »

LittleRed wrote: Fri Apr 26 2024 08:56 -
Thanks Fenland Piker, Really will think about primarily using ledger methods instead of blockend feeders.
I will be fishing in and around the Kings Lynn and Downham Market area. Mostly KL on waters on the ticket. I would like to venture further out but currently not driving.
If you want a few hours out in a boat with decent fishfinder then let me know? It might help identify some locations worth trying around that area. There are features if you know where to look. I fish the section you are talking about but mainly for pike with lures these days.
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Re: 'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

Post by LittleRed »

paintman wrote: Tue May 07 2024 11:10 -
LittleRed wrote: Tue May 07 2024 10:16 -
No idea, I'll be sure to grab a cheap PVA Foldable carry-case and a cheap aerator to suit and have some fresh lives on hand.
Think you mean EVA? - PVA is water soluble, very useful as small bags, string & tape & heavily used by the carpers.
I did indeed mean EVA. Not sure how i got the two mixed up 😄
suffolk si wrote: Tue May 07 2024 11:29 -
lives far outscore deads on the trent for zeds for me (big ones too) but with my limited experience on the fens i havent really seen a preference for deads or lives yet. i am a fens novice at best though!
Thanks Si. Ive purchased a cheap EVA Tub off Amazon and a cheap USB Aerator to fit. Will see how it goes!
fenland piker wrote: Wed May 08 2024 12:10 -
LittleRed wrote: Fri Apr 26 2024 08:56 -
Thanks Fenland Piker, Really will think about primarily using ledger methods instead of blockend feeders.
I will be fishing in and around the Kings Lynn and Downham Market area. Mostly KL on waters on the ticket. I would like to venture further out but currently not driving.
If you want a few hours out in a boat with decent fishfinder then let me know? It might help identify some locations worth trying around that area. There are features if you know where to look. I fish the section you are talking about but mainly for pike with lures these days.
A mighty generous offer Fenland Piker, one which Id love to take you up on? Really appereciate the generosity.. thank you!
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Re: 'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

Post by fenland piker »

Just send me a PM and we can arrange something.
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Re: 'Feeder' Fishing for Zander.

Post by Mark Phillips »

suffolk si wrote: Tue May 07 2024 11:29 -
lives far outscore deads on the trent for zeds for me (big ones too) but with my limited experience on the fens i havent really seen a preference for deads or lives yet. i am a fens novice at best though!
When there were a lot of smaller zander in the fens, fresh deads caught me stacks of zander. But nowadays, lives are way out in front, especially on the rivers. If they want a dead on the day, I often kill a live. I will say though, they do like lamprey and of course will still take dead silvers - catch yourself and freeze down. I don't trust what's in the tackle shop freezers when it comes to coarse fish. Zander can be very fussy, so always use the best baits. Having said all that, my biggest from the fens? On a half mackerel. LOL.
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