ZANDERLAND - Species - Zander


Tampere Region - Finland

Lake Pyhäjärvi

Zander lures

Zander in winter


Hot summers are ideal for zander anglers

Videos: Toisvesi Pyhäjärvi Ruovesi Rautavesi Kyrösjärvi
The fishing season on the Tampere Region’s more shallow zander lakes starts in early June and on around Midsummer’s Day on deeper lakes. By then, zander have spawned and start looking for food eagerly. At first, rubber lures called ‘jigs’ give good catches close to spawning shores, sounds and mid-lake shallows. Good jigging spots are usually a few metres in depth. White and yellow worm jigs form part of an angler’s basic gear.

On early summer afternoons, anglers trick zander on torrents, or fast-flowing sounds, by jigging close to the bottom from a floating boat using vertical jigging lures, balanced sinking lures and conical weighted lures. Hot spots include pits above or below fast-flowing sounds. You can find zander torrents on Lakes Ruovesi, Kulovesi, Rautavesi and Pyhäjärvi. In late summer and early autumn, it’s advisable to jig a bit deeper, at 5–10 metres. You can also use baitfish on torrents to pursue zander and perch.
The best trolling season lasts from midsummer to August
Trolling is the main way of fishing zander. Zander are trolled using a boat with an outboard motor or a rowing boat at slow speed. The best potential trolling areas in the early season up until July include bay waters and shallows, where zander gather to spawn.

In July, zander gradually move to open lake areas and can be caught on the edges of mid-lake shoals, banks of deep waters and also above major deeps, especially in hot weather. The peak feeding time in midsummer is at night between 8 pm and 1 am. On occasions, big zander will not get excited about feeding until the darkest hours of the night, between 1 and 3 am, or even until around sunrise at 3–5 am.

In early evening, weighted lures and divers are efficient. As midnight approaches, the fish will nab closer to the surface. 2–6 metres from the surface is a good basic depth to pursue zander throughout the summer, but big zander will often bite deeper too. Deep-water plugs and weighted lure rigs are therefore efficient tackle for catching zander.

The best trolling season on lakes continues through to early August, or even up until late August if the weather is warm. Hot, sunny and partly cloudy evenings, complete with a suitable wind, top every zander angler’s wish list.

A fascinating form of fishing in late summer is spinning zander with a spoon. A suitable lure is an ordinary or keel-weighted spoon, which is hurled from the edge of a shallow of 6–7 metres in depth into deeper water and then moved along the bottom like a jig, with an occasional tug to make it float.

As waters cool in September and October, zander dive deeper and deeper, which makes them more difficult to reach. This is when it’s worth going after zander in the middle of the day in waters as deep as 10–20 metres, using divers and downriggers.
Lake Ruovesi
Plugs are the most popular zander lures
The most commonly used lures are relatively wide-kicking plugs measuring between 9 and 13 cm. Suitable colours for zander include green-yellow-red, red-gold and perch colouring. Glaring fluorescent colours are efficient in muddy and dark waters in particular. Blue- and violet-backed and fish-coloured black-and-white plugs also work well in more clear-watered lakes. For big zander, it’s a good idea to try large, 13–18 cm plugs.

A typical game zander weighs between 0.5 and 2 kilos. The best zander waters offer good chances of catching 2–5 kg fish. It is also possible to catch more than 5-kilo zander on many lakes, whereas more than 10-kilo specimens are rare.
Zander stocks are still on the increase
The Tampere Region ranks among the top lake fishing areas for zander. Various big zander contests have been a constant source of celebration for Lakes Kulovesi, Rautavesi, Längelmävesi, Pyhäjärvi and Vanajavesi in recent years. Other fine zander waters include Lake Kyrösjärvi, Lake Ruovesi and the stretches of Lake Näsijärvi located to the north of Tampere, which regained their position among Finland’s elite zander waters in the 1990’s, having long been depleted. Actually, almost all the region’s large and many medium-sized lakes currently have good or excellent stocks of zander.

Since the late 1990’s, summer temperatures have been exceptionally high for many years. The hot summers of 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2010, 2011 and 2014 were remarkably warm in Finland in the light of climate data covering the last hundred years.

An equivalent longer term period was last experienced in the late 1930’s – and the more senior anglers can still remember how many zander were hauled onto boats during the subsequent years.

Indeed, the region’s lakes now have plenty of catch-size zander and stocks are still improving. This is backed up by the high numbers of small zander striking lures in the summer of 2005. This means that the next few years will see record-breaking hauls of zander.
Foto: Juha Happonen
Zander will eat anything
Zander eat all year round, but will only grow when water temperatures exceed 10 degrees Celsius. Their growth and, subsequently, their appetite do not reach their peak until around 29 degrees. Consequently, water temperatures in Finland will not rise too high for zander at least. In hot summers, young zander in particular will grow at a considerably faster rate when compared with cool summertides.

Zander are diverse predators, whose diet includes most species of fish, as long as they are of a suitable size. On lakes, the most common food for zander includes perch, smelt, roach, bleak and vendace. Small zander prefer smelt and small perch. Zander are cannibals, so they will also eat their own kind when these are conveniently available. Even a larger zander will usually eat fish of about 10 cm long, but people have found fish as large as 20 cm inside zanders’ stomachs.

The size of prey fish will grow as zander grow, albeit not as conspicuously as with pike, for example. You may well catch a big zander even with a small lure, but it will help if at least some of the tackle kicking on the other end of the line is slightly sturdier.
Lake Kyrösjärvi

Jigging for zander in rapid-flowing waters


By Petri Ristiniemi

The principle of sustainable use should be taken into account when fishing for zander. Fishing must not endanger the reproduction of fish stocks and it must be sensible. Anglers should avoid catching zander during the spawning season and adopt a minimum size of at least 40 cm. Please also forget about any overkill. It is best to catch what you can eat and maybe one extra, but the wild stories one hears about catching 30 zander in a day are enough to enrage conscientious anglers.
Jigger’s casting tackle
The rod should definitely be a sturdy class 1 or UL pole measuring about 180 cm. When fishing at a depth, in particular, you need to get a good feel for the jig, which means that the rod must be sturdy. Zander bite cautiously, so your counterstrike must not come too late. Fishing with a slack rod is sheer agony. The reel should be a class 1 open-face spinning reel.

The line varies from a 0.22 mm monofilament to a braided 0.10 mm line. Both have their advantages. With a braided line, the feel for the fish is second to none due to its inelasticity. A tungsten leader is essential when jigging zander, in particular with a braided line, because it is like gossamer to a zander’s sharp teeth. Conversely, normal monofilament lines can withstand some abrasion.
Lake Ukonselkä
Big jigs for zander
An effective jig is a relatively substantial worm jig of about 4 inches. The ball head may weigh between 7 and 18 grams, depending on the depth. The best way to hook zander is to use chemically sharpened hooks with sufficiently long shanks.

You can find out the best jig colours by trial and error, but as a general rule, pale oil with yellow glitter works almost every time. Every lake has its own top colours.
Torrent banks as hot spots
After spawning, female zander move quickly to the steep banks of torrents, while males stay to guard the spawn. An example of a jigging spot is a torrent, where you can drop your anchor at four metres and where the jig will reach a spot with as much as 18 metres of water. In a strong current, the jig head should be robust, with a range of about 20 grams.

The best jigging season lasts about a week in early June, at which point male fish start to arrive. The best fishing days become less frequent, and as the summer progresses, you’re likely to find smaller zander. The best bite time is between 4 and 7 p.m. As the clock approaches nine in the evening, jigging is no longer worthwhile, because fish will start to come to the surface.

You can catch zander from torrents all through the summer, until the waters become cooler in the autumn. The daily feeding activity varies. When the weather is hot and the wind is blowing from the south or south-west, it’s time to head for a torrent.
Lake Rautavesi
Jigging technique
Cast the jig, release the bail arm and raise the rod up. Keep the line tight and wait until the jig hits the bottom. In windy weather, it can be quite difficult to notice the bottom contact, but you will definitely see it if you use a heavy jig head. A braided line will also help here. Sometimes fish bite while the jig is still sinking, so you should keep your eye on the line the whole time. When the lure reaches the bottom, lower the rod and reel in any slack line. Retain the feel for the jig all the time. Bring the rod up slowly and again watch how the jig behaves.

You should select the correct size sinker, depending on the current. If the sinker is too lightweight, it will not reach the bottom quickly enough, which makes fishing agonisingly slow. Conversely, if there is too much weight, the jig will not have enough time in ‘free’ water. This style is slightly different from normal jigging, but it has proven to be extremely efficient. You will usually get a bite as the jig sinks towards the bottom, but fish will even take it from the bottom sometimes.