Fly Fishing for Pike-Perch
Wooden shoes do not mix well with waders, but fly fishing while wading or from a belly boat is still very popular in the Netherlands. For pike-perch or zander (Lat. Stizostedion lucioperca) for instance, a fish closely related to the American walleye.
The pike-perch is to be found in nearly all of the lakes, canals and rivers of the Netherlands. The water should not be too clear, it prefers a little discoloured water and with its special eyes it is also very well capable of hunting when it is nearly or completely dark. During the day, depending on the time of the year, it can be found at depths of between 10 and 80 feet, in the evening it usually moves to more shallow water.
These streamers are usually fished with full sinking lines, in order to reach depths of up to 25 feet, one needs the fastest sinking lines on the market. The rods and lines we use are in line classes from #6 to 8. Leaders are short, around five feet, and typically made of fluorocarbon; the leader has a 2X or 3X tippet.
A zander will take a streamer of four or five inches in length readily, when it is in the right mood. The bend of the hook should be well back in the streamer, because a pike-perch will grab a prey by the tail first in an effort to wound it, so the fish can grab it more easily shortly there after.
A piece of steel wire is not necessary in front of the streamer. Even though the teeth look quite impressive, the pike-perch is not capable of damaging the line with its teeth. After a cast is made, I will use my watch to see how long I need to wait. If I start fishing after 30 seconds and I do not seem to touch the bottom, I will wait a full minute on the next cast. A streamer for pike-perch should always be fished close to the bottom, I will wait as longs as 90 seconds before I start stripping in line.
A streamer is either fished slowly by stripping in line, or by twitching the rod tip. The take of a pike-perch can be very soft, just a little increase in resistance. Set the hook anyway, just to be on the safe side. You will find that, compared with northern pike, a zander is much faster during the fight, the line can really ‘zing’ through the water surface in some instances. A fly rod is ideal to take care of the ‘bumps’ that a pike-perch makes when it wants to dive back to the bottom of the water. On average a pike-perch caught on the fly in the Netherlands will be around 16 inches in length, a good fish will be close to 30 inches, an exceptional fish is around the 40 inch mark, but those fish are rare.
Rudy van Duijnhoven