Chris Bishop

It isn't just the ignorant north of the border or across the Irish Sea who kill pike - it's going on round here too.

Fishing the Ouse the other day I got chatting with some kids who asked me why I returned a zander.

I said if we all took them home, there wouldn't be any left by the time they were my age, so what would their kids have to go fishing for.

Their reply was they got two or three quid for them from a local restuarant and more for a pike, dep on size.

Can anyone come up with a constructive way of dealing with this..?

Andy Doughty

Petrol, milk bottle, a rag and a lighter?

Sorry, a bit extreme that one. How about contacting a journalist to do a story for a local paper or two?

Chris Bishop

Really took the edge off what should have been a top evening. I forgot what it was like during the school holidays and how cheesed off with it I got a few years back. Perhaps it's time to move on to pastures new.

Dave Silvers

Try telling that story to PETA and then let them decide who is interested in preservsation and who isn't.

Davy North

Any rational person would see who was really interested in preservation, but are PETA rational?

Gary Knowles


A local paper....are you serious ?

The headline would be something like


This would then be followed by a list of things Zanders eat such as any, and all pretty little silver fish, cute ducky wuckies, family pets and small children.

naah, I'm sorry to say the press would only sensationalise the zanders eating habits rather than consider the damage to the environment.

Jon Moores

For an example of the reporting you could expect see the style of the reports about the young lad who caught the big cat from a small river.

Chris Bishop

We're not all like that, believe you me -

Once they were reviled as an alien intruder that would destroy aquatic wildlife across a wide tract of East Anglia. But despite their fearsome reputation, the Zander settled into the Fenland river system with scarcely a ripple - let alone the carnage many predicted. Suddenly catches of the Eastern European fish are plummeting and foul play is suspected. Chris Bishop goes in search of the answers - and the Zander.

Snatches of Radiohead waft up the bank from the Cutter Inn as the lights dance on the deep dark Ouse. For a minute there I lost myself, whines Thom Yorke, the band's singer, as the chilly breeze whips flurries of spray off the river into our faces.
I know the feeling, I think out loud, as the Fenland night closes in around us to the surreal strains of the pub jukebox. But this is a serious investigation, I remind myself - even if it does entail standing here with a rain-diluted pint in one hand and a fishing rod in the other.
It's all in the interests of science, I tell EDP photographer John Hocknell for the umpteenth time. Our mission, on this windy night, is to track down the elusive Zander.
When they first colonised Fenland's man-made river system back in the 1970s, the predatory fish were about as popular as a shoal of piranhas on a nudist beach.
Anglers blamed the invaders for declining catches, claiming they bred like rabbits and munched their way through the native roach and bream by the bucket load.
Gradually, as the interlopers grew to weights topping 10lbs a new branch of the sport evolved. The predator became the prey as fishermen began targeting the nocturnal newcomers.
By the 90s the Zander record broke the 18lb barrier and anglers flocked from across the country to fish the Fenland drains, becoming an important offshoot of the local tourist trade. Fast forward to Ely city center and a reach of the River Ouse where it wasn't unusual to bank 15 or 20 of them in a night as little as two years ago. Catch more than three or four of them now and it's a red letter day.
As often as not you don't get a nibble. And across the Fens the story's the same. Catches of the mysterious fish are plummeting.
Commercial netsmen are widely rumored to be behind their decline. For as well as being a popular quarry of anglers - who usually return them after weighing and photographing them - the Zander is fast becoming a de rigueur dish in trendy restaurants.
Recent surveys by Environment Agency scientists have also noted falling numbers. But they say they have uncovered no evidence of foul play and the fish are merely finding their natural population level.
Word on the riverbank, meanwhile, is that the Zander have now disappeared altogether from some once productive reaches of the Ouse, Middle Level and Relief Channel.
It certainly seems that way if you've spent a weekend camped on the banks without so much as seeing one. But have they really done a bunk or just wised up to avoid the areas where the fishing fraternity sling their hooks.
It's easy to do a disappearing trick among the mile upon mile upon mile of the Fenland drain system, after all.
So here, in the interest of getting to the bottom of the enigma, we are. If they're just re-adjusting their numbers, we should still be able to catch a few after all.
Ely's Quai D'Orsay is a haunting place once the nights draw in and the tourists and foreign students fly home to New England and Nagasaki for the winter. Passers-by drift past like ghosts in the gathering gloom. Lights throw eerie yellow circles onto the river and our hunch is that these rings of bright water attract our quarry. Zander are nocturnal hunters.

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Rob Brownfield

Local Chinese used to pay ?1 per pound for Pike...until I told them that the pike carry a disease that can make humans very sick!! (It worked....he stopped buying them!!)

Peter Waller

Round up local predator anglers and organise a sit-in at the offending restaurant. I'll quite happily come along & join in.

Ron Clay

Did you all know that zander carry the carcinogen Alpha 18 in their flesh. This also decreases the immuno effect in humans and is a prime cause of yaws, trachoma and dhobi itch!!!

Nick Pottle

kids will do anything for a packet of fags,although this is wrong they are not doing anything different than the holliday makers here in norfolk they are killing the pike through bloody ignorance.