Back to Basics

Wed 19 February 14


Over the past couple of years there has been a growing trend across the UK for using rubber lures to fish for predators.
I knew it wouldn’t be too long before I broke and decided to see what the tactic was all about. With an opportunity to head out fishing with predator expert and Fox Tackle backed Gordy Howe’s of I knew I was in with a chance of learning a thing or two and hopefully bagging myself a fish.

We set a date to head out on to Rutland Water which is known to hold a very good head of Zander. Not monsters but the numbers are there along with some good pike and perch.
I wanted to make sure I turned up not looking like a complete novice, so a few days before heading out I made a call to ‘The Friendly Fisherman’.

The Friendly Fisherman is tackle store based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, run by Andrew Lush and family. Andrew was more than happy to impart some of his extensive knowledge to me about Rutland, Zander fishing and methods of working lures and at what depths, what weights to use and so much more. I couldn’t have asked for more or better advice. I did also end up purchasing a couple of selection boxes of lures which are likely to keep me kitted out for the winter. I bought the ‘Savage Gear Vertical Kit’ and ‘Delalande Buster Shad Chest’. These two selection boxes gave me enough variety of colours and shapes of plastic lures and jig heads to get me started and also didn’t break the bank! I am a sucker for good customer service and I can hand on heart say I have not experienced customer service like it from a tackle shop in many years.

We arrived nice and early at Rutland on a recent Sunday to get started. My mission was to catch my first Zander; Gordy’s mission was to aid me in catching my first Zander. The odds were stacked in my favour.

For this trip and as with all of the Water Land Fishing trips, Gordy provides as much kit as you may require. This includes fish finders, lures and rods, and lunch. Although I did bring along my lure rod and reel and my new selection of shiny lures as they needed christening.

As we unloaded the van I noticed my foiled wrapped sandwiches appeared to have been squashed. As I went to sort them I noticed they weren’t in fact squashed but they had already been enjoyed by one of Gordy’s very friendly and now full dogs!!! Note to self put food in more secure container in future!

With all kit loaded on to the boat, fish finder set up and electric outboard at the read we headed out into the massive expanse of water (over 1200 acres) that is Rutland Water.
We began our search looking for areas of deeper water in places I have been advised might be worth trying out (I am not wanting to give too much away but I’m sure the photos are a clue).

We found an area which fluctuated from 40-50ft and began a drift in what was a pretty rough, bitterly cold morning with a nice strong breeze! With the drogue employed (a parachute placed into the water) we were able to slow down the drift of the boat against the wind and allow for better presentation of the bait. I was instructed to work the baits within 12” off the bottom of the reservoir as this is the most likely spot to be picking up the Zander. With a Fox Rage rods and suitable braid we began our quest to bag some fish. I opted for some Ultima Vertibraid as mainline and a fluorocarbon leader; in this case I was using Gardner 16lb Mirage. Gordy was using some Fox braid and wire trace leaders. I was a little reluctant to use fluorocarbon but had been told by Andrew Lush it would out fish wire trace. Only one way to find out.
We both ended up using 30-40g jig heads to deal with the conditions and bait wise I opted to give the Dalalande Shads a go whilst Gordy gave the Fox Quiver Shads a shot.

Gordy was quickly into the first fish, a small but very welcome Zander. It wasn’t long after I managed to snare my first Zander and I was chuffed to bits. My next fish was a little unexpected from fishing a bait at 50ft. I honestly thought I had hooked a very good Zander, however on surfacing it turned out to be a stunning 12lb pike. We managed a few more small Zander off the spot before getting bombarded by the local sailing club who seemed to be out in force.

After a trying many areas around Rutland throughout the day we did not manage another bite. We even set up dead bait rods which were fished at varying depths without any success.
We decided to head back to where we had had the hit of fish in the morning for the last hour knowing the sailing club had called it a day.

With my shiny Blue Dalalande Shad back on I went to land another small Zander and then managed to get one of about 5lb. Gordy also managed another couple of fish before we had to call it a day and get the boat back for 4pm.

What an incredible day. I learnt an incredible amount, especially regarding the techniques of working the lure. More technical than you may think. Gordy certainly knows his stuff and provided a days fishing to remember.

I shall definitely be heading back out to Rutland next winter but now have the Ouse to tackle and land myself a double figure Zander and a 20lb+ pike. I don’t ask for much!

Since fishing Rutland Gordy and I have ventured out on to the Ouse fishing very different tactics to Rutland and had a small amount of success. Float fished dead baits doing the trick this time. One pike to Gordy and one Zander to me, and a new PB of 7.2lb.

I shall keep you updated on future sessions including the ‘Great Croc Hunt’ on Weir Wood Reservoir.

Andy Loble



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