Catching Pike-Perch: Bait, Tackle and Fishing Methods
The Duke of Bedford, a very keen fisherman and naturalist, first introduced the voracious pike-perch (Stizostedion lucioperca) into the lakes at Woburn Abbey, near Bedford, in about 1910. This fish is definitely not a hybrid, although a great many anglers seem to believe that it is a cross between the two well-known fish from which it gets its name. It is an entirely separate species, Continental in origin, which, although virtually unknown to many British anglers, is a member of the perch family, Percidae. It is very much like the PERCH in many ways.
It has, for example, the perch’s two handsome dorsal fins, the first and spiny one being erected when the fish is about to make an attack on an intended victim. The fins on the lower part of the body are broad and very well formed, yet look quite delicate. The fish’s predatory nature is indicated by the large and heavily-toothed mouth. Pike-perch grow much larger than the British record perch and nearly as large as the heaviest PIKE. In common with both pike and perch, they are true predators, always ready to attack any fish small enough to be swallowed.
The pike-perch is fairly common throughout Central Europe, where it is known as Zander, Sander, Sandel, Gos, and Snockbaar. There are, however, several varieties, two of the more prevalent Continental types being the L. lucioperca volgensis and L. lucioperca sandra. The variety volgensis is confined mainly to Austria and South Russia, particularly in the Volga, while the sandra type is found in the Danube, North Russia, Scandinavia, Hungary, and North Germany America also has pike-perch, which are common in certain waters; there they are known as wall-eyed pike.
Some of the Woburn Abbey lakes were netted in 1948, and a number of pike-perch were transferred to a pit in Leighton Buzzard, but they did not appear to have bred. Later, in 1951, about thirty young specimens of some 12 cm (5 ins) in length were obtained and introduced to Claydon Lake, near Winslow, Bucks, where a few fairly large specimens have since been caught, including one of 3.5 kg (8 lb). This fish was caught in 1956, which suggests that pike-perch have a growth rate of up to 3.5 kg (8 lb) in five years! In 1960 the Great Ouse River Board imported a consignment of about five hundred ‘fingerling’ pike-perch from Sweden and released them in an enclosed water in their area as an experiment to establish their growth-rate.
Baits and Tackle
Pike-perch are notorious predators and may be taken on live- bait,lures, and plugs. The tackle you would normally employ for big PERCH will also suit pike-perch, but where the fish may run large a change to PIKE tackle is advised.
Choice of spinning lures will present few problems, since the pike-perch will take plugs, devon minnows, and any small `flashy’ spoon, e.g. the Abu Sonette, Colorado, Kilko, Kidney, and Vibro. A hook flight fitted with a spinning vane, of the well-known Archer type, will make an ideal lure when mounted with a dead natural. Any small fish, such as LOACH, minnow, GUDGEON, BLEAK, etc., can be used to bait the flight.
The bait, or lure, should be joined to the reel line by a wire trace some 45-60 cm (18-24 ins) long, with an ordinary barrelat the line end and a spring link swivel at the other end for connecting the lure. These swivels are essential to prevent the line from twisting and kinking.
Pike-perch are credited with an indomitable fighting spirit and, fished on for reasonably light tackle, they are reputed to give really exciting sport.
When spinning, give the lure a lively movement at it travels through the water by frequently moving the rod from one side to the other. Such movements create the impression that the lure is a small fish moving with a zigzag motion, altering course continually. At the same time, give the rod tip a few jerks in order to transmit a swift darting movement to the line. But, while handling the rod, don’t forget to manipulate the reel. The reel handle should only be wound between each movement of the rod, and three or four turns should be all that is necessary.
As you come to the end of eachmake sure that the rod tip is pointing down at the water so that the bait or spinner stays in the water as it moves to the bank edge. Some predators will follow the lure right in close, and take it a few feet from the rod tip. If the lure breaks water too soon, the fish sheer off, and lie low for a considerable time.
Pike-perch can also be taken on feathered mackerel lures or even streamer flies.
Use live-bait tactics as for large PERCH.