The Full Set

During my nine year coaching career it had been brought to my notice by the questions of my students that there were two common British coarse fish that I had not caught, the Wels Catfish and the Zander. My excuse was that neither of these fish were indigenous to the UK and although they were now more widely spread, I rarely fished waters that contained them.

This season I promised myself that I would put that right and despite a busy summer I made a start in the early autumn. Now then readers, what do you do when you have an angling problem? You seek the advice of a coach! During the summer I met Nick Watkins, a fellow coach who helped me catch my first Catfish.

With that under my belt all that was left was a Zander and the best place for them, locally, was Bury Hill. I had fished there for Zander a couple of times in the last few years using modified pike tackle and all I had caught was pike (unmodified!). Then this week I received an email from Bury Hill in the form of a newsletter.

Bury Hill Fisheries – Latest Predator Catches

Zander doubles galore as mild wet weather conditions take hold!

With a return to mild wet conditions, the zander fishing has responded with a good number of doubles reported over the last week topped by a boat caught 12lb 5oz specimen. With most anglers catching multi bags, there has been plenty of fish in the 6lb to 8lb bracket caught with a number of anglers reporting bags of up to 10 fish a session. To read the latest news click on the link below:

Martyn Cook’s 12lb 5oz boat caught zander.


This was just the motivation I needed. A boat was booked and my pair of Fox predator rods (two and a quarter pound test curve) were unpacked and set up. I already had plenty of frozen small roach collected for such an occasion waiting in my bait freezer.

So once again I needed advice so I sought the best. Steve Grey of All Things Piscatorial is a great all round predator angler and although he gave me a hiding on our last predator trip, it was his advice I sought.

Steve with 20lb pike

He has caught more than his share of Zander from Bury Hill and his words of wisdom were as follows. Use half, well punctured dead baits on single hooks to fine supple wire traces and use a small waggler for bite indication with about a AAA shot on the bottom. He said that Zander were very touchy about resistance when they took a bait and would drop anything they thought suspicious.

The day came but the weather had been bad with cold rain (lots of it) the day before and high, gusty winds. Danny, my boat partner and I struggled to keep the boat moored in the wind, the weights provided were by far to light and this meant that the majority of the lake was unfishable. We went from one swim to another with only the crayfish taking any interest in my dead baits, Danny too had no success on his float fished maggots and worms until about mid afternoon when my float slid away. A crayfish with a mission?

I struck quickly in case it was a Zander and before it could drop the bait, I was rewarded with a short, dour fight and my first Zander rolled into the net. A small, very scruffy, moth-eaten Zander, but a member of the sought after species and the completion of my set.

My first zander

The moral of this story is if you have a problem or want a new experience, ask a good coach!