The zander is a bit of an enigma among the fishing world. It is quite easily recognisable and they are a joy to catch, particularly on lighter Avon-type rods when targeting the smaller shoaling zander that weigh around the 4-6lb mark.
Zander were originally stocked into the Great Ouse Relief Channel back in the early 1960s, much to many people's dismay. They thought this heavily toothed species would descimate the whole river system, but it didn't! Zander have always hed their place well within the ecosystems of European waterways, where they help create a natural balance between species.
The Great Ouse Relief Channel cuts across Norfolk, and from there these rather impressive predators have since spread. Almost all Fenland drains and rivers contain zander now, and zander can be found as far and wide as the Trent system, the River Severn, the Warwickshire Avon, the Gloucester Canal and many more venues in between.
Zander have yet to spread into Scotland, Ireland and Central/West Wales.
The zander is easily distinguishable from most other species. Its head is quite small in relation to its body, the dorsal fin is pronounced and split into two (just like the perch), large and spiny and the tail is quite long with a large V-shaped fin.
Perhaps the most noticeable feature of the zander are its extremely large eyes (perfect for locating prey in the darkness) and the array of sharp teeth featuring four elongated front teeth - two at the top, two at the bottom.
The zander's body colouration can vary immensely, from grey in waters that are heavily coloured, through to a steel blue when living in crystal clear water.
Zander are perfectly equipped for catching their prey in the hours of darkness or in heavily coloured water due to its extra large eye.
They feed on live and dead coarse fish, often working in shoals to round up their prey, which comprise mainly of silverfish in the 4-6ins bracket.
Zander scour the bottom of rivers, drains and stillwaters, hugging the countours while hunting for their food.
It has been known for zander to take much larger prey fish like bream, but in the main they do prefer smaller baits. Anglers who fish with coarse fish up to hand-size, or eel sections do best. And the most frantic zander sport can be had during dusk to dawn, or in water that is heavily coloured during daytime.
Given the choice, and regardless of whether they live in still water or flowing water, you are most likely to find zander living in the deepest and darkest water. Here they feel at home, they feed best and they feel most comfortable.
Zander also use features such as bridges under which to hide. The reduced light levels underneath any man-made structure attract zander like moths to a light, so a carefully presented bait cast slightly upstream of a bridge will stand a very high chance of being taken.
Look out for...
Look out for bridges - they are a magnet to lowland river zander.
Night fishing offers the best chance of a big zander.
Drop-offs into deep water are a prime patrol route for zander.
Best baits for zander...