Sunday, 6 March 2011

What ever happened to the Pike-Perch!

The Duke of Bedford (the grey squirrel guy) was also responsible for introducing pike-perch into Britain in the late 19th century into his lakes at Woburn.

In 1963 the (then) Great Ouse River Authority introduced pike-perch into the Relief Channel. By the end of the decade the name pike-perch slipped into oblivion and the continental name "zander" came into use. Personally I prefer the older name pike-perch as it is so descriptive, despite it's appearance this fish is not related to either the perch or pike.

Since then zander have spread throughout Fenland colonising most of the drains and rivers. In some cases they were illegally moved by anglers and can now be found in the Rivers Severn and Trent and throughout the Midlands canal system. Whilst it is true that silver fish populations have been decimated in many waters containing zander, in the long term nature always finds its own balance between the predator and the prey, as has happened in the Fens. If anything, it is the pike that has suffered from the competition, as rarely do waters produce both big pike and zander.

Zander populations have been in decline in recent years. Many waters, including Ferry Meadows in Peterborough, have suffered at the hands of a small minority who have used nets and set lines to catch zander for the pot.

I decided to travel to the Coventry Canal in search of the zander and spent a couple of hours walking the towpath before settling on an area which containing overhanging trees, a bridge and a boatyard. I opted to fish a hair rigged section of roach on a size 6 hook on a running leger. Zander are renowned for dropping baits so I opted to use my old washing liquid bottle top indicators to minimise resistance.

I fished three swims during the course of a chilly afternoon and my only take, after only fifteen minutes, resulted in the smallest zander I have ever caught!