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The Truth is out there

Don Corleone

This is the fish that left a trail of broken hearts on Norfolk's ultra-hard Relief Channel.  The record rocking 18lb 14oz zander appeared during an Environment Agency fish survey near Magdalene Bridge, in the mid 1990s.  News of the capture soon started the predator grapevine buzzing and convinced many to set up shop on the Channel's windswept banks.  

The fish, which was almost certainly never caught or seen again, was widely rumoured to top 20lbs.  In view of the fact it was netted in September, it probably would have done by the following spring.  On an 11-mile-long ribbon of water, where predators are few and far between, it's hardly surprising no-one ever caught up with her.  Legends live longer than zander do.  While fish to more than 17lbs have come off the channel since then, the zander which could have broken the record melted away into its depths and was never seen again.  The question now is whether the Channel can ever produce another zander of this size and regain the record it held during the 1970s and 80s.  

Fisheries officers reckon it's still feasible.  

Silver fish populations are recovering, especially round the bridges at Saddlebow, Magdalen and Stowbridge.  Yet predator density remains low, meaning there's plenty of food to go around in the 100 yard wide waterway which stretches between Denver and King's Lynn.  Plans to open up the channel for navigation over the next few years could bring another boost for the zander, with lock workings boosting oxygen and colouring the water.  Dave Lavender's 19:5:8 fish - caught from an un-named Fen drain in 1998 - still holds the record for the species. Lavender never revealed the water, to protect the fish from the circus.  But the background to a video of the capture is widely tipped to resemble part of the Middle Level.  

This season's biggest is believed to be a 17 from Well Creek, a Shallow, little-fished drain which connects the Old Nene to the tidal Ouse at Salter's Lode, near Downham Market. Numbers-wise the Middle Level has again proved the most consistent performer when it comes to numbers of double figure zeds.

 

 

   

(C) Baintonfisheries.co.uk, 29 May, 2014 . All rights reserved, no reproduction without prior permission

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