Phil Spinks- Autumn Zander

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Phil Spinks- Autumn Zander

Autumn normally sees me heading over to the Anglian Water reservoirs for the chance of a big zander or two on lures. This autumn has been slightly different for me; it seems nearly every time Thursday comes around, which is my day off from working in the shop it's always too windy.

This has meant I’ve had to revert to plan B. While exploring mile upon mile of Fenland rivers and drains in the summer looking for those big fenland rudd, I promised myself I’d head back in the autumn and winter to have a crack at the predators.


I understand the Fenland zander fishing isn’t anywhere near as prolific as it was say in the late 1990’s but I felt confident of a bite or two if I put the effort in. Fishing nights isn’t an option as I don’t finish work until gone 6pm on the Wednesday night and the Fens is at least a 90 min drive from home.

Effort is something I’ve never lacked, mind you, so I headed over for a few late afternoon into dark sessions. The short sessions suit me better if I’m honest. I feel I’m much more mobile as I have less gear. This means I can keep on the move until I locate a fish or two.

My plan was to wander the chosen venue with a jig rod and hopefully find a few zander willing to grab a lure. Then when the light starts to fade I fish the productive area with dead baits.

My confidence with lure fishing has changed so much in recent years. It’s a method I really enjoy. Once upon a time I had little or no time for it, but it’s now one of my favourite ways to fish.


Needless to say I wasn’t long in catching a few small zeds while roaming the banks with the lure rod. Zander in the 3-6lb mark are brilliant sport on the light lure tackle, and feeling them hit the lure is what makes it exciting for me.

Bait fishing for zander is best described as scaled down pike fishing. I fish drop off style indicators with an open bail arm, and running rigs combined with buoyant ledger stems to provide a completely free rig with no resistance. Then a wire trace of around 20 inches long made up of around 20lb braeking strain and size 6 trebles. I recently gone back to normal 7 strand wire as I like the fact it’s stiffer than the softer 49 strand wire and is less likely to tangle. And the drop offs have still been falling off, so I’m happy.

The best bait is a fresh dead bait, small roach or rudd are my first choice. These can be caught fairly easily as soon as I arrive at the venue. As a back up bait I’ve found small sections of eel or lamprey are a close second.

I’ve had 3 short evening sessions so far and I’m more than pleased with the results. I’ve fished 3 different venues and both the lure and bait fishing has been successful. I’ve caught more fish on the lures but the bigger fish have come to static dead baits. But I feel the lure rod had helped me find the fish in the first place.

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