This article is a story & tips when fishing for a night zander/walleye is (Gjørs in norwegian).
Type of fishing: JIG
What you should consider before you go?
First of all you have to follow the weather prognosis and be sure that there will be no rain, storms or heavy wind. It is very important that you always think about your safety, especially when you are fishing during night time! We recommend to equip yourself with torch-lights, warmer clothes, have enough water and healthy food so your concentration in night time stays on its best. Boat safely.
So how everything was planned, what was the game plan?
"First and foremost i would say you have to have passion and patience. Every fishing journey has to have it's own goals and you need to seek them with enthusiasm. Without that, there is no patience and eventually it leads to wasted time (for some).
Anyways, I have always dreamed to arrange a really good and tactical night hunt for a zander. The main factors I took in consideration before I packed the boat was:
First I would advice to follow weather conditions and try to hit the week where the weather is mostly stable. In my head this ensures that water is on it's best levels, pressure has stabilised, no mud or grass is floating under the water, wind levels are about the same (1-4m/s i would say). This is quite important for feeding fish on it's regular timings.
Keeping in mind that zander occupied their beds and theoretically should stay around beds until the weather dramatically flips around. All of this is about 1 week of fishing analysis before the main trip.
Once you selected the best time, think about which fishing style you go for? The most popular ways would be vertical fishing or trolling way. For me, I chose to be loyal with my beliefs and experience. I kept staying with JIG fishing style. In my personal opinion JIG fishing allows you to increase your chances and provoke zander to bite. It also allows angler to have much more control of their lure, present the bait in different angles, motions and speeds. Preferably it is your personal choice which way you choose, but do not overestimate jig fishing in general, since it´s mostly known for perch/trout and overall small game style. This is completely false and you should give it a shot while hunting for a larger predator fish.
Please also consider that if you decided to go for vertical style fishing, make sure you prepare your equipment on its best. Having for instance movable/adjustable transducer bracket really helps to find active zander. If you want to go to more PRO style - having for example Garmin Livescope will put your vision to another level. It allows you to track the movement of the fish in real time and see reaction to your lure. This helps to decide the best strategy, presentation and lure that needs to be used.
Tackle is one of the most important parts to prepare. First you have to think what kind of water is in the lake: is it a still water or is there any current/stream thats runs throughout the lake. In our case Øyeren has all kinds of streams throughout the whole area. That means we need to have good range of jig heads/sinkers in our tackle boxes. Anywhere from 15g all the way to 40g jig heads.
Jig Head vs Cheburashka
I would say that that you need to have both. These are 2 completely different presentation solutions. JIG-head sinks the lure in completely different way compared to "cheburashka". So you never know which one will work best in the time being.
Speaking of lure falling down. Now, sometimes when the weather is really warm and zander feed's actively, try not to be very slow while reeling or trying to choose small weight to reduce the sinking speed. In these summer days like any other fish, speed increase really triggers them to bite. But when the weather is a bit more rainy, windy or temperatures are lower, slowing down your lure can really be the key. I noticed that on those days even in summer, I sometimes used 21g JIG Head and it took for the lure to hit the bottom almost 7-10sec before each reel repeat. Surprisingly it really helped and I managed to get more fish or overall bites by just doing that.
Nothing to consider too much for me, my first thought and eyes are on the Favorite Creed 842H - the ultimate rod for river jig fishing. It has perfect length (2.54m/8'3") for far casting, has perfect casting weight of 15 - 50g and is Ex.Fast action. Mostly what I am looking for in the rod is capability to control my lure in the stream. The Heavy or Medium Heavy power of the rod will ensure that the hook really penetrated through those tough and strong zander bones. Any Light rod will just not have enough power on the hook-set.
Therefore Creed is my choice to go. Alternatively you could try to use rods with casting weight 10-32g M, MH or H.
My favorite and most used lure has been EasyShiner from KEITECH for a very long time now. I don’t know why, and maybe it sounds stubborn, but this is the only lure you need if you are looking for successful fishing trips. It has the full size range from 2" (5cm) all the way up to 8" (20cm). This is exactly why anglers are able to fish trout/grayling with 2-3" or even perch/pike/zander 4 to 8". But the most universal sizes in summer would be 4", 4.5", 5".
So I took the whole dark/natural colors from EasyShiner to begin with. It didn´t take much time to figure out which color is the key, in other terms "unlocked the code" for the week.
The key was:
4.5" Golden Gill and
4" Smoke Cinnamon.
And for pikes: 4" Mat Wakasagi.
Every other colour was just not giving any bites at that moment. I sticked the whole night with those 3 colours. Zanders see perfectly in the dark. They are night creatures, so don't hesitate to use very dark lures. And don't be scared to increase lure size in the nights.
Finding the fish
This is where most of anglers spend their time. Searching for the structure changes, hard bottoms or any other place where zander feels "alive". Typically they like to sit a little deeper, but in summer time they are completely fine by rising from 6-10m depths all the way to 1-3m depths. They normally come in small groups of 2-6 or more sometimes. What they also like is to get separated individually and hunt alone. This is exactly what happened that day we caught our monster zander.
Before I actually found where they are feeding, I had to spend some good hours in deeper sections, but got 0 bites in deeper places.
Then the idea came that now I need to check shallow spots - "they have to be somewhere close".
The final Result
94cm, 10kg+ zander.
It didn’t took long to get another bite and this time it was big, very big from the very first second. It took good 5 minutes until I was able to net him. The reel brake sound was just never ending. Even though I used #0.20mm Momoi line, it is still safer to work these big fishes with patience. You need to be smart with them and choose the best boat place to net them. If they get in the air, these heavy fish weights easily snaps the lines or leaders and that's how "big ones" never gets in the net.
It was a difficult task to make high quality pictures. I would recommend everyone to have head torch + portable torch light. That way if you get "the one", you have a good chance for making great shots with your dream fish.
All the fishes were released back to the water quickly, the night fishing ended 03:40 and I headed back home with a smile in my face! Zander goals are achieved for this year for me and now I can enjoy fishing in a chill mode :)
So here is all my tips and story how great planned trip can become successful with right tackle, right thinking and of course - some luck.
I wish everyone good rest of the summer and Zander season is just starting! Prepare your tackles and try to fight this fish. Believe me, it is one the most fun/difficult fish to hunt.
Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions! 😎
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