Some useful tips and thoughts for Bury Hill’s Zander sport

By Russ Evans

The Old Lake at Bury Hill is producing some top sport for Zander fishing with Greg Boothright’s 14lbs monster top of the list so far this season. Caught on a gloomy and wet day, ideal conditions for top Zander sport, Greg’s fish one of six zeds that day came on a mackerel chunk on a single size 6 barbless hook presented on ledgered tactics free running a sensitive. The bite came at 4.15pm and when my rod powered over said Greg, I knew this was a special fish. With a new Pb zander Greg went home a happy angler and is already planning another return trip.

With six other Zander coming out this season (2011/2012) over the 13lbs mark that we know of the fishery feels that the species are putting on more weight and as the season progresses into deep winter it is expected that last year’s best of 16lbs 2oz will be beaten even further.

So what are the best conditions, baits and tactics to use to catch a big Zander on the Old Lake at Bury Hill Fishery?

Top conditions

Without a shadow of doubt the best weather conditions are when the wind is blowing creating a chop on the lake surface and heavy periods of rain also seem to spur the Zander into feeding aggressively, it may not be ideal weather for the angler to fish in but the sport is fantastic and very rewarding. At the opposite end of the scale bright days on a clear blue sky, no wind at all make for tough predator fishing and the bites when they do come during the day are very finicky only improving when dusk starts to fall, often just as the fishery is closing. So the best advice is fish for the Zander when you are more likely to get wet and in heavy wind conditions when the lake is choppy turning the under currents over and over. Next best conditions would be on very gloomy and overcast days with a bit of wind at least blowing across the lake.

Best baits

Many anglers are always seeking the best baits to use to catch a Zander or two and the truth is like us their eating habits can change from day to day but the key is to fish with small baits and by presenting your chunk of mackerel or sardine on a single hook is a great way of tempting a bite. Hair rigged pieces of roach or spratt tail is a superb bait for the Zander often producing bites on bright flat calm sunny days but the best advice is to have an open mind with bait selection but remember a small presented bait section is a quick and easy meal for a zander to swallow especially when they are in a finicky mood.

 Top catching methods

With Zander being very finicky feeders most of the time especially when the season has progressed into the colder months of winter, it is advisable to have your baits presented resistant free so when a bait is picked up it is not dropped again which is often the single bleep sounded off on your alarm. Fishing with 1oz leads set up on big eye swivels will allow for a fish to pick up your bait and move away without any feel of the lead and fished in conjunction with semi slack lines will again aid in less resistance to a hungry fish. Most of the big Zeds that have come out so far this season have fallen to free running ledger tactics and small baits with rods set up on sensitive bite alarms. Quite often anglers have reported having screaming runs, sort of carp like takes, from the Zander which obviously means they have quite happily picked up the bait confidently and moved off at pace without suspecting a thing. Float ledger tactics have taken more pike which gives the impression that for now the Zander are more aware of lines coming straight down off a float rather than pinned down on the lake bed. With the fishery allowing a free of charge third rod when obtaining a second rod ticket for £18 it may pay to have one of those lines set up for float tactics to see for yourself how effective free running tactics score best over the float for Zander, however if Pike is your main quarry then floating tactics may well be better suited to your angling needs.

Russ Evans
Bury Hill Fisheries