Fish That Can Bite Back
Fishing for predatory freshwater fish can be one of the most fun and rewarding types of fishing there is, hooking into a decent sized predator when reeling in a lure can be one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have in angling. This hub looks at some of the predatory fish found in the UK and Europe and how to catch them and these methods should also work well for species found in North America also.
In olden times the Perch was known as " The Partridge Of The River " due to its superior taste, although not often fished for the table today, a big Perch is a beautiful sight with its black stripes and red fins bristling.
So how do we go about catching large Perch?
The Perch will take a various range of baits, maggots, worms, crayfish are particular favorites as well as small lures, plugs, or spinners but from experience i have found a small dead bait to be the ultimate bait for catching large Perch.
As Perch do not grow to a large size, 5lb being a specimen fish, lines of only around 4 or 5lb only are needed. Fish a small dead Roach on a size 6 or 8 hook a couple of inches on the bottom and use a dumpy waggler float as an indicator. It can pay to spray some maggots around your float, this will attract small fish which in turn can attract the large Perch. This method works best at dawn or dusk, indeed if there is a bright sun on the water it is usually pointless fishing for Perch anyway. Perch can be found in many types of water from canals and lakes to gravel pits and rivers, often hiding around jetty's or submerged roots waiting to pounce on prey as they swim past. When fishing the above method make sure there are no Pike in the water as you are likely to get bitten off as you will not be using a wire trace. Lure fishing for Perch can be great fun, with a short light spinning rod use small spinners such as the Mepps Aglia keep moving and trying different spots until you locate a fish or two.
Although unlike the Pike and Perch the Chub is not as often thought of as a predatory fish, Chub like nothing better that chomping on a smaller species. Spinners and small plugs can work really well for Chub and as when fishing for Perch keep trying different lures and different spots until you locate some feeding fish. An an unusual but deadly method of catching large Chub can be to fish Lamprey or Eel as bait. A simple method, an inch long piece of Lamprey or Eel is fished on an 8 or 10 hook on a running leger rig using a light to medium quiver tip rod, bites can be really savage wrenching the rod tip right round, a brilliant way to fish in the autumn and winter when casting into deep holes below over hanging trees where the Chub likes to hang out.
The Zander is a non indigenous species to the UK from Eastern Europe being introduced firstly to the East Anglian Fens and Coombe Abbey Lake in Coventry in the 1960s. The Zander has thrived in the UK and is now present in many inland rivers, canals and lakes. The Zander is a very similar fish to its American cousin the Walleye and it has been known that Walleye sold as food in the United States has often been found to be imported Zander.
The Zander is best suited to water with murky low light conditions unlike the Pike which prefers clearer water, the fish is often called the Pike / Perch as some people mistakenly believe the fish is a hybrid of the two species.
Zander can be caught on a variety of methods including spinners, plugs and lures however small dead baits fished on a light leger or float rig seem to be the best choice on most waters and indeed the small dead bait method mentioned above for Perch works well on many waters.
Many anglers disagree as to whether wire traces are needed for hook lengths when fishing for Zander, personally i have never had line bitten off when Zander fishing but a compromise could be to use braid as a hook length if you are unsure.
Contrary to what many people think Pike fishing is not all about Winter fishing, some great bags of Pike can be had in the late Spring and early Autumn as well. The Pike is the alpha predator in European waters and is not a pest as many anglers believe but does a brilliant job of feeding on weak or dying fish and ecologically many waters would be the poorer without the presence of a head of Pike.
When fishing for Pike it is best to keep things simple, lure fishing with large spinners or plugs is a fun method to use in the warmer months, many lures can be successful including Rapala, home made spoons, Shakespeare Big S or Toby lures can all have their day. A lure that works one day may not work another so it is always best to have a range of lures and plugs in different colors and sizes in your tackle box.
Although lure fishing can be great sport, the larger Pike specimens are rarely caught on lures, a method that does pick up the larger specimens however is the legered dead bait. Pioneered by British Pike anglers this method accounts for the majority of large Pike catches in Europe. Baits to use include dead freshwater fish, for example Roach, Bream or even Trout, or sea fish with Mackerel or Sprats being popular baits.
Flavorings and colorings can be added to your baits if the fish on your water begin to become shy of seeing the same baits time and again and any left over baits can be frozen for use another time. If you prefer to float fish, dead baits can be fished beneath a float rig either static or drifting and most manufacturers make some great floats to suit both methods or you could consider making your own using balsa or polystyrene.
Rods for Pike fishing need to be sturdy around 2 and a half to 3 pound test curve, capable of throwing out large dead baits, reels should be of the Baitrunner type loaded with at least 15lb lines or heavier if using braid and a wire trace of at least 18 inches long should be used as a hook length to prevent bite offs.
Treble hooks are often used in Pike fishing,make sure you use the barbless variety, there is no reason to be using a three pronged hook with barbs, barbless trebles will keep a fish hooked just fine and are much easier to unhook from the fish or landing net if the hooks are slipped after landing.
Pike are not as hardy as they look and should be handled carefully after being caught, use a wet unhooking mat to lie any fish on and return your Pike carefully back to the water making sure it has regained its strength first.
The Wels Catfish can be caught in most European countries and can grow to some enormous sizes, with the current World Record being a 250lb fish. The Catfish is common in Western and Eastern Europe and is found in the Danube in Central Europe , Ebro in Spain and Po and Arno in Italy, it is present in many rivers in France and has been illegally introduced into England.
As you can imagine if you want to go fishing for one of the largest freshwater fish in the world you are going to need some pretty hefty tackle. Rods need to be designed for the job, rods need to have an all through soft action to cope with the lunges of this hard fighting fish and test curves need to be in the 4 or 5lb range. The reels required need to be tough the aforementioned Baitrunner range from Shimano will do the job and also some from the Penn range can be good. Braid with its abrasion resistance is probably a better choice as a reel line than standard monofilament. Hooks for Catfish fishing need to be very sharp due the tough pads inside the fishes mouth and there are specialist hook length lines available for Catfish fishing as well. It goes without saying that any swivels used in rigs must also be strong and stainless steel types tested to at least 100lbs will be needed.
As with Pike, dead bait fishing with freshwater fish can work well for Catfish but some meat baits such as sausage or luncheon meat can be very successful and are much easier to obtain.Be careful not to overdo it with flavor additives, the Catfish has a very strong sense of smell and may be put off by your additive rather than attracted to it.