In order to follow up on the awesome video, Pelagic Zander Fishing In Sweden, shot by Simon Torenbeek, click on the link to watch it, let me tell a bit about the gear that I use for this really cool technique.
The first thing you need is a boat, a kayak or a belly boat, whatever and some days the smaller the better, especially when the water's clear and the sun is shining as it will create less shadow. The idea is be able to position yourself right above the fish, so the last thing you want to do is to scare them! A big boat requires a bigger engine and sometimes the extra noise can scare them and the bubbles generated make using the sonar more complicated. Any noise can spook the fish, from changing gears on the motor to dropping a lure in the boat, the key is maximum stealth at all times. You may wonder why I don't use an electric motor, well the problem lies in the distance you have to cover in order to find the fish and for that a petrol motor is the best option. Once you have found the fish, switching to an electric one can be complicated also as you run the risk of making a noise dropping it into the water or loose time dropping the lure on to the fish.
As a rule I never fish any deeper than 12 metres in order to limit the risk that a fish will suffer from decompression. In general search for the deeper parts of the lake, even though this may change depending on the season, the water temp is the fail or success factor in this technique. Here's some advice on where to fish depending on the season:
Spring: the ice has melted and the zander begin to move to their spawning grounds, so you need to target drop-offs and deep waters close to the spawning areas. You can find them where the water is warming up thanks to the spring sun, it's not rare to spot fish 1 to 3 metres below the surface even if there's 15 to 20 metres of depth.
Post spawn: same areas as spring but the fishing will be easier.
Summer: The fishing now gets harder as the bait fish search for the cooler zones and the shoals break up. The predators become hard to find.
Autumn: As the water cools, the shoals of bait fish gather, followed by the zander. Prospect deep zones and drop-offs.
So now that you have all the basic information, you need to go out and start looking for the fish. As you've guessed, an essential part of the gear is the fish finder or rather finders. Once on the water you need to run at low speed with your eyes glued on the screens of the your sonar units. I usually start prospecting with the 2D set at 2/3 of its sensitivity as you need to be able to tell if you are close or far from the fish. The Side Imaging will help localize the general position of the fish that I'll pinpoint with the 2D and waypoints. Waypoints can really help find a fish that you've spotted and can be a good indication for future sessions.
One of the reasons why you need Side Imaging technology is that it enables you to "see" what's happening on either side of the boat and therefore gain precious time. If you spot something that looks interesting, run back over it and position the boat just above the detection. Once positioned, drop the lure and stop it a least 1m above the fish or your may scare it, you have to make the fish come and take the lure. This is the hardest part of the technique: reading the sonar then positioning the boat above the fish and keeping it there will you drop the lure on it.
Now what do you do? Well you are not jigging for exotic sea fish, so keep in mind that generally the slower and the smaller the movements the better, if you shake the lure too hard, the zander will generally turn tail. Most times a small twitch every now and then will get them coming. I have seen zander rise 6 metres to take a lure, so believe me, they know what's happening even far above them! You can also retrieve the lure at the same speed as the zander raises and when they don't react to a classic presentation, this can save the day! If the fish rises quickly towards the lure it generally means it's going to take it. When they not very active, they will tend to rise slower, big zander often react like that, in that case: be cool it's a waiting game! Just hold still when they are next to the lure, and if nothing happens, just give it a little twitch and hold on tight!
Lets now have a look at the gear you need. Ideally you a relatively short powerful rod, 6 to 7ft and with a 30 to 50g test. The short length enables you to fish below the transducer and maximise the power to correctly set the hook. For this kind of fishing I love the GUNKI SHIKEGI C 210-H and the YURAI C 210-H. They need to be paired with a high quality reel that will enable the lure to drop effortlessly and for that the GUNKI BC 2000 is perfect. Bait casting reels are preferable as you can have one hand free to steer the boat and fine tune the electronics. I generally spool the with the PEZON & MICHEL SLIDE BRAID which is super smooth and greatly reduces parasite vibrations. As terminal leader I use about 50cm of Pezon & Michel 0.41 ICE FLUOROCARBON but if it's a pike day then you'll need to go up in diameter.
Now time to talk about my favourite part of pelagic vertical fishing gear: the lure! To be honest, this lure is the reason I got "hooked" on the GUNKI brand, the 7in GUNKI V2RIGGLE is just the lure for this type of fishing. It's not for nothing that I use it 80% of the time. When I go pelagic fishing I target specimen fish, so I use specimen class lures! I also use the GUNKI V2IB as a trump lure, sometimes the little extra movement its paddle tail produces can be just what it takes to trigger the bite. When the fish are holding close to the surface, 1-5m, I generally use natural colours and the new up for 2017 BROWN SHINER and BLUE ICE will be awesome. If they are deeper, 5-11m, then I'll switch to more contrasted colours like the killer CONTRAST PINK or ORANGE CHART BELLY.
I rig my lures on 30g jig heads, you may use heavier heads, up to 50g, depending on the conditions (wind...) and the depth at which the fish are holding (the deeper the heavier) but I use the smallest size head I can to keep the rig as natural looking possible. The down side of this technique is that the fish have all the time in the world to observe your lure before taking it, so your presentation has to be perfect! The new (2017) GUNKI G'FISH SCREW heads are going to be ideal for these ultra natural presentations, stay tuned for more!
Pelagic vertical fishing is a technique that is great for targeting big fish that live near deep drop-offs or have developed a habit of hunting fish in the main body of water (pelagic). You'll spend more time looking for the fish than actually fishing them, and depending on the time of year, especially in the summer it is not the most productive technique to use. When it's pre and post spawn time I really don't think there is another technique that gives you such an adrenaline kick! You find an echo, watch, holding your breath, as your lure drops on the screen, see the fish rise to take it, strike hard as it tries to rip your rod out of your hands and then fights for its freedom! Once the fight is over, the photo taken and the fish released, it's time to start all over again, and as Simon Torenbeek said in our film, "pelagic fishing is not good for the heart!"
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via the official Gunki Scandinavia Facebook page: ww.facebook.com/gunki.scandinavia