Nile cichlids are extremely robust cichlids that are now found worldwide in the tropics and subtropics. They can easily weigh up to 2-3 kg and grow to a length of 40-50 cm. They are strong fighters on the rod and fishing for them is really fun.
Tilapias are the egg-legendary woolly milkshaw among the aquaculture fishes and meanwhile top 3 of the world’s most important cultured fishes. This has contributed massively to the worldwide spread of the fish. You can find the fish from Florida and other southern US states, in South East Asia and in their natural and new distribution areas in Africa. The only reason why the fish are not yet found in the Rhine, Danube and Co. is that the fish do not eat and die at temperatures below 18°C. The upper temperature limit is above 40 °C!
Tilapias is a large group of fish with many different species. The most important species is the Nile cichlid Oreochromis niloticus. The fish are absolute opportunists and eat everything that swims in front of their mouths. They can even effectively filter phytoplankton or graze algae. Their low stomach pH helps them to crack plant cell walls (only the contents are digested, not the cell walls themselves). But also small fish, shrimps and even smaller conspecifics as well as their own eggs are eaten.
How to catch tilapia
In the water column they are mostly found in mid-water to near the surface. The preferred method of fishing is therefore fishing with pose/swimmer (link goes to the article with video in which
I am fishing for tilapia among others). As bait you can use almost everything but the most catchable are worms. A selective tilapia bait are also, where they occur in the water, simple thread algae wrapped around the hook.
Artificial baits also work, but are often less successful. Small twisters, rubber fish and plugs are still catchable, but if the water is too turbid I would only use natural bait. Hook size 1-4 is good, because the mouth of the fish is relatively large.
Tilapias are strong fighters on the rod and a 200-300g Tilapien will go well into the brake. A 1 kg Tilapie fights at least like a 3-4 kg trout. A well functioning fishing reel with good brakes is therefore a must. You can use almost anything as a rod, but light spinning rods with 5-15g casting weight are sufficient. Often you don’t necessarily catch the big ones, but the smaller greedy fish depending on how overfished the water is. But where there are small fish, there must be big fish too!
Tilapias in the kitchen
Tilapias are very tasteless fish with, if at all, a very good taste of their own. The meat is firm and white – a very good edible fish. Unfortunately there is an exception, if the fish come from a very mouldy lake or eat a lot of blue-green algae, they get an unpleasant aftertaste just like our fish. Recipes will follow for the website Tilapie- Süß Sauer is one of my new favourite dishes.