Fishing for pike-perch
The pike-perch is considered one of the most popular freshwater food fishes. No wonder, then, that it is also very popular with anglers. Before we explain in detail how best to hook a pike-perch, we will first go into the general basics of the fish.
The zander belongs to the family of predatory fish, which means that it feeds mainly on other, smaller fish. Its preferred prey fishes include roaches, small perches, bleak or giant perch. Zander can be found in many native waters. They live in lakes as well as rivers or canals. However, they prefer larger waters with a depth of at least four metres. In addition, waters with a light structure are their preferred territory. Above all, waters with a stony bottom as well as groynes and harbours are places where the zander are frequently encountered.
Zander can reach an age of up to 20 years, even though the average fish tends to live for 10 to 15 years. Zander can reach a size of up to 1.20 metres and a weight of about 18 kg. The average size of the fish is generally given as 40 to 50 cm. A zander is generally considered to be capital if it reaches a size of 80 cm. The largest zander caught in Germany is 1.06 m.
Which rod is chosen depends very much on the fishing method. When jigging and lounging, it is important to have direct contact with the lure so that you can guide it over the bottom of the water. With a slightly longer rod you can also influence how your lure “jumps” over the bottom by the angle of the rod to the water.
For jigging / lazing from the boat or shore with rubber fish I would therefore recommend a rod with 2.40 – 2.80 m. This way you can get out far enough and at the same time reel the line in at a good angle. Depending on the water and lure size, rods with a casting weight between 25-40 g are very suitable for most purposes.
You should also make sure that you don’t use a rod that is too soft, otherwise you can only set the hook suboptimally. The pikeperch has a very hard mouth compared to other fish, so the hook has to sit well to hook the fish. Therefore rods with a fast tip action are best suited.
If you fish for zander vertically from a boat, you don’t need a rod that long. 1.80-2.00 m is a good length here. As there is less casting and the lure is usually only lowered, it is not so bad if the rod has a lower casting weight than the lure. Also here it is advisable to use a quite hard rod to get the hook through and hook the fish.
The classic lure for fishing for zander is the rubber fish. It is available in all imaginable shapes, colours and sizes. Depending on the water, it is fitted with a jigging head of varying weight and then usually jigged or lazed over the bottom. Rubber fish with a very flexible tail such as curly shads can also be caught slowly above the bottom of the water without jigging the lure. However, as the bite usually comes in the sinking phases of the lure, catching up with short breaks is often more successful.
Alternatively plugs are a good choice, especially when you are heading for the evening / night. Bright colours that offer a good contrast to the water and the light are a good guarantee for a good fish. Rattles in the lure increase the attraction to the fish and encourage them to attack the lure.
If you fish for zander from shore and do not want to fish actively, you should use fresh bait fish. Both whole fish and fish shreds can be used. Fish in a size of 7.5 – 12 cm are well suited. Especially rotifers and gobies are perfect for pike-perch fishing, as they are the natural prey of pike-perch.
As zander have very good eyes, the line should be as unobtrusive as possible. In addition, pike-perch do have pointed teeth, but these are not as fine and sharp as those of a pike. Therefore the line only has to withstand the fishing pressure of the fish, but not its teeth.
Accordingly, when fishing for zander you should always use Fluorocarbon as a leader. Fluorocarbon is practically invisible in the water and does not stretch as much as monofilament line. Approx. 60 cm is usually sufficient, the leader does not have to be longer.
We recommend braided line as the main line, because it is important to be able to set the hook immediately and directly. This would not be possible with monofilament line, because it has a much higher elongation. Of course, the load capacity depends on your way of fishing, but usually 0.12 – 0.14 mm is a good choice when fishing for zander.
The size of the reel is not as important as the choice of rod and line. Depending on the size of the rod, a 2000 or 3000 size is usually sufficient for spin fishing.
For vertical fishing from a boat, you should use a Baitcaster reel, so that the lure will run better along the bottom without having to open the bail every time to give line.
Of course, when fishing for zander, a landing net must also be carried along to bring the catch ashore as easily and gently as possible. Here it is usually a “normal” landing net with an average size. It is advisable to buy a rubberized landing net, because on the one hand it protects the fish, but on the other hand it is less susceptible to hangs of the bait.
Special landing nets for predatory fish are also available, which score points due to a more robust overall construction. However, these are only necessary when a really big fish is hanging on the hook.
If you fish on sheet piles or other higher places, you should definitely have a sheet piling net with you. Lifting out a fish is not fair and should therefore be avoided.
Methods of fishing for zander
The most popular way of fishing for zander is jigging/laying with the rubber fish. The advantage of this method is that it can be used both from shore and from a boat. It also enables the angler to quickly fish a large area by searching the water for fish in a fan-like manner. By plucking/adjigging the bait, an attempt is made to imitate as closely as possible the movements of a fish swimming over the bottom of the water. Zander attack their prey mainly during short resting periods, which is why the bite usually occurs when the lure sinks.
The second method of fishing with rubber fish is called lazy fishing. The bait is not guided by the rod, but by the reel.
In principle it is important to achieve the same movement of the rubber fish as with jigging. However, this is not done by raising and lowering the rod, but by hauling in the line. Through short but fast crank turns the lure rises from the bottom of the water to high and then sinks again.
Fishing with plugs
Especially in the late evening and at night a plugs can turn out to be a fantastic lure. This is because during this time the zander are often quite close to the shore and hunt at the surface of the water. Depending on the type of wobbler, it either sinks as it is pulled in or swims at the surface. Plugs are available with different running depths. The right choice depends on the condition of your water, but deep running plugs with a running depth of 2-4m are usually more suitable.
Basic assembly with bait fish
One of the most effective methods of angling for zander has proved to be basic bait fishing. This is because during the day, especially in the cold season, zander usually lie quite lazily on the bottom of the waters and move only sluggishly and little. A bait fish that lies around at the bottom is easy prey and is therefore readily accepted.
The assembly is very easy. A continuous lead is drawn directly onto the main line before a swivel is mounted. The leader – made of braided steel or carbon, depending on whether you have pike or not – is mounted on this lead. The basic rule is that the chosen lead should always be as light as possible, as heavy as necessary, so that the desired spot can be fished.
Vertical fishing is mostly done from the boat, but can also be done from sheet piles, for example. The advantage here is that the bait can be guided over the ground with pinpoint accuracy. Especially in combination with an echo sounder, fish can be located and fished with pinpoint accuracy.
The bait is let into the water directly next to the boat and then moved close to the bottom. By drifting or in standing waters, e.g. with the help of an electric motor, the fish will now be slowly fished to the appropriate spot. The trick here is to find the right spot with the help of an echo sounder. Especially in winter, zander are often found in smaller depressions at the bottom of the water – usually at a depth of four to five metres.
However, edges where the water drops off considerably are also good places to fish for zander.
Fishing for zander in different seasons
Contrary to many rumours, it is quite possible to fish for zander successfully in all seasons. The trick is to know how the fish behave in what time of the year and what bait and methods are used to catch them.
Slowly but surely the water gets warmer in spring. The zander begin to become more active again and move steadily to shallower waters in search of suitable places to spawn. It is important to look for fish locations in the shallower zones of the water. Smaller rubber fish are particularly recommended as bait. Many fish have already provided for offspring, so that the waters are full of small prey fish. Especially in lakes the water temperature rises faster than in rivers, so that the zander are active earlier and can be fished in them.
In Germany there is usually a closed season from mid-March to the end of April, which must be taken into account when fishing for zander in spring.
In summer the pikeperch is drawn back into the deeper parts of the waters because there is a higher oxygen content. There is still a large supply of prey fish, but they are already a little larger. It is recommended to fish with larger rubber fish (10 to 15 cm).
Even basic bait fish is an excellent choice in summer. Fishing at night is also promising in summer. Here you should choose a plugs, which should be guided 1-3m below the water surface, depending on the depth of the water. This is the zone where zander go hunting on warm summer nights.
In autumn the zander slowly become slower and move far less. Even at night they rarely come to the flatter areas. Fishing with rubber fish is especially recommended, aggressively jigged lures can still persuade some lazy zander to bite. But also bottom fishing with bait fish is still extremely successful.
Winter is usually considered the most difficult season to catch zander. This is because they have almost gone into hibernation and remain stubbornly on the bottom of the water. The natural prey fish have slowly but surely become adults and no longer offer good targets. The shortage of available bait fish ensures that spinning is the primary method of success. However, vertical fishing from a boat is best for winter fishing. This makes it very easy to hold the lure in front of the zander’s mouth – no matter how lazy the fish is, hardly anyone can resist such a temptation.
Biting times of zander
Now we already know in which seasons the zander can be caught and by which methods. But at which times of the day are pike-perch particularly in a biting mood?
During the day
Most zander are caught during the day. The early morning hours and the hours before dusk are particularly interesting. Similar to other predatory fish, such as pike, zander prefer to hunt at dusk. During the rest of the day it is considered difficult to catch zander. Only in the spring before spawning time do zander get into a real feeding frenzy and can easily be caught during the day – but beware! At this time there is a grace period in Germany and most other EU countries!
Zander go hunting at night, especially in summer. They come into the shallower water zones and search for prey just below the surface. Fishing with a surface wobbler along the edges of the current has proved particularly successful here.
Statutory regulations for zander fishing
Statutory regulations for zander fishing can vary from country to country, state to state or even fishing area to state. It is always a good idea to find out what the respective closed seasons and minimum sizes are before you start fishing.
In general, during the spawning season, zander have closed seasons everywhere. This is usually from mid-March to the end of April. However, in some federal states the zander has a closed season from the beginning of the year until mid-May – for example in Hamburg.
The minimum sizes also vary from region to region and are always listed in the individual permits. As a guide, it can be said that zander usually have to have a minimum size of 40 to 50 centimetres.
Types of waters for zander fishing
Zander can be found in the most diverse types of waters. But which of these waters are to be preferred at which times?
Slow flowing rivers are a popular habitat for zander. Large specimens can often be caught here, especially in spring and summer. Spinning fishing is excellent. When fishing on the bottom, the current often means that a larger lead than required for the range must be chosen.
In channels, zander can often be fished accurately. The same applies as for rivers. Especially in spring and summer they are a popular place for fish to stay. In autumn and winter they usually retreat to deeper areas in the connected lakes.
The lakes are a good place to catch zander at all seasons. In spring and summer (especially at night!) they can be found in the shallow zones. In autumn and winter, on the other hand, they go deep and can be caught here, especially for bottom fishing, but also vertically from a boat.