Zander

A lifeline during lockdown

Local waterways have been an escape for many during these difficult times. Our work to protect them is more urgent than ever.

Zander (Stizostedion lucioperca) are a member of the perch family but with the predatory feeding behaviour of the pike. Read more about this attractive fish and why you can't release one if caught.

Zander, courtesy of Jack Perks Zander, courtesy of Jack Perks

Heavily boated canals or deep rivers are great places to catch zander.

Carl Nicholls, fisheries & angling manager

Zander are widespread throughout Europe and are often caught for food as they are tasty and have large, white, flaky flesh. In the UK the zander is listed under the Live Import of Fish Act (ILFA) and you would require a special licence to stock or hold them in a water.

Zander were illegally introduced into several fisheries. They were originally introduced legally into lakes at Woburn Park in 1878 and later into the Great Ouse Relief Channel. In very turbid canals, many of the native fish populations in the waters where zander have been illegally introduced have suffered greatly because of the aggressive feeding of this top predator. It is still not clear whether natural fish populations of species such as gudgeon will ever fully recover.

Appearance: zander are often a greeny brown colour with dark vertical markings, similar to the perch, and a cream or white belly. Their distinctive features are a double dorsal fin, with the front fin containing hard and quite sharp rays. They also have a flat spine at the rear of the gill cover. They have two long, sharp teeth at the front that are vampire-looking in appearance. Zander have large eyes that can often be opaque, which is an adaptation to enable them to see in murky waters and take advantage of prey.

British record: 21lb 5oz (British Record Fish Committee January 2015)

Lateral line scale count: 80-87 (this is the dark row of scales along the central length of the fish's body)

Lifespan: up to 20 years

How to catch a zander

Zander excel in their hunting style in murky and heavily coloured waters. Heavily boated canals or deep rivers are great places to catch zander. Zander can be caught on small lures, but generally they prefer either dead baits or, better still, live baits. Using fish as bait involves the use of a double or treble hook and wire trace. Part of the hook holds the bait in place while the other part is used to hook the fish. The bait can either be held in place with weight or used similarly to a lure whereby the bait is cast out and retrived.

Where to catch a zander

Try the Oxford Canal, Ashby Canal, Coventry Canal, Grand Union, South Stratford, Gloucester & Sharpness Canal and the River Severn.

Can I return a zander to the canal?

As the law stands, it is illegal to return a zander or any other non-native fish species to the canal network. This is set out in the terms and conditions of our KIFR permits.

You are allowed to take zander, and other fish species classified by DEFRA as non-native, for the pot.

Read our angling and fisheries team blog about zander in the canal.

Last date edited: 22 February 2021