AFTER a full day afloat on Grafham Water with no response to lures or deadbaits, Will Matthews was counting down the clock… before a colossal 19 lb 3 oz zander entered the fray!


Mepal, Cambridgeshire all-rounder Will, 44, struck into the beast on a float-legered half-mackerel just 20 minutes before the Anglian Water venue’s early evening curfew.

Will told Angler’s Mail, the top weekly magazine for British big fish: “I’ve fished Grafham for predators over the past four winter seasons and never blanked, catching trout to 8 lb and zander and pike to 7 lb.

“Last winter I lost a massive zander right at the net. Maybe this was the same fish, or just payback.

“With boat partner Taff we’d done the usual thing of drifting the reservoir, working lures along the way, then anchoring up for an hour on deadbaits before heading back to the dam and repeating the drift.

Sea deadbait tempts huge zander

Will continued: “We never had a single sign until we anchored up near the tower after the final drift. I’d put a half-mackerel bait out with a 1.5 oz lead and a waggler-type unloaded pencil float in 30ft of water. Grafham zander, the bigger ones especially, seem to like sea deadbaits so I wasn’t just targeting pike with this rig.

“At ten past six, the light was fading when I struck a run on the mackerel. We had to get the boat back for 6.30pm, but I took my time playing a massive zander to the surface and into the net.

“We unhooked and weighed her, Taff took a quick snap, then I held her face down and she kicked like a carp and swum down strongly,” he added.

Will’s zander will go down equal 11th biggest of all time in the Zander Anglers Club Top 50 list, which actually put a 22 lb Grafham giant to Mick Dolan in 2009 as their No.1 fish. The official British record is 21 lb 5 oz to James Benfield from the River Severn in 2007.

Will won  £100 of top quality Korum tackle in the Korum Specimen Cup – exclusive to Angler’s Mail printed magazine. Get the magazine every week for top tips, big news, best products, and venues that are in form.

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