Bernd Ziesche | Wednesday, 10 March 2021
For several years now the stock of Zander in my hometown is decreasing both in the average size and in the number of fish. I have been fighting to support saving them as best as I could. It was a fight against quite some of my fellow anglers!
The fishing rights for all waters in my hometown belong to our local angling club. We are having over 400 club members, which makes for (I think) 800 different opinions on whatever issue may be discussed.
The only intersection of all our personal preferences as far as I can tell, always was and still is, that we all want to catch many and preferably big fish.
Though one would think, that saving our Zander while being the favorite fish for the majority of our club members would be something we all strive for. But no, me trying to optimize the rules for catching and killing the Zander turned out to cause a significant fight to say the least!
When I realized the stock of our Zander to decrease both in the average size and in the number of fish, I wanted to change the minimum length from 50cm (for killing and eating them) into a 50 - 70cm range. That way all bigger fish would have to be released making sure there are always fast growing Zander being left to reproduce themthelves. In addition I wanted to change the protection period (no fishing for Zander allowed) yet being April and May (spawning in April and males protecting the eggs into May) into March to May. Most important I wanted to change the bag limit from two Zander per day to one Zander per day (or even better one or two Zander per month).
One main cause for the decrease in the stock of Zander was crystal clear to me right from the beginning. We took over 500 Zander per year out of a harbour being just 500m long and 80m wide. That was way too much!
The board of our angling club (especially the chairman) instead was arguing, that we were just facing a single seasonal variation and not a major issue at all. I made official claims in our annual club meetings for changing the rules as written above several times over the past years. Yet they all were denied. The biggest problem was, that 90% club members are not showing up on these meetings, so only very few could (or would) support me. In other words, the decision was left to the board and nearly the board alone. When fishing instead I only meet other Zander anglers supporting my ideas of how to change the rules. But of course liking my ideas and joining the club meetings and working to change the board's mindset can be quite a difference as I had to experience.
I didn't give up though and took the whole issue a huge step further and involved the state authorities to our (better my) problem. In the end now we had a biologist visiting our chairman and discussing the decreasing stock as it now has proven me to have been spot-on right from the start. It still decreases year by year. Since me and my friend Hansi are fishing our homewaters for Zander every single day for about several month each year, we of course know better than anyone else what the changes are about! Instead our chairman fishes 10 days per year in just on of the waters and thus can't have a clue at all. I will never understand why it was so difficult for him to let go his right to kill 60 Zander every month (two per day) as well as all other rules. Anyway yesterday he called me and finally seems to agree on my original claims for change now being the right ones.
Halleluja, proper CHANGE obviously takes TIME, I knew that. Thanks god, it still is possible, if only we are willing to fight for our believes.
Right now we can't have our annual club meeting based on the Covid restrictions. But soon we most probably will have it and then I feel a serious PROPER Change to be coming!? Fingers crossed!
Gladly Hansi and I did make a hell lot of pictures of many of our catches over the past years. Yes, even of the smallest Zander we caught! These pictures now have turned out to be THE important basement to prove the decrease in average size of our Zander. Exactly that material which the biologist needs to have quite some datas to start with. I always was sure, that sooner or later it would come to this moment and kept gaining and saving as much information as possible. All in all I could outline several additional causes for the decrease of our stock. Changing our own rules will just be an excellent (and yet very important) start of change!
Our current stock is nowhere near where it was 10 years ago. But there are quite some fish left, which - when being much better protected, can make for recovery of our Zander stock in (I think) 4 or 5 years.
As you may see in the current pictures of last week below I truly love to fly fish for Zander and thus feel responsable to also help to protect the Zander!
Thanks a lot to my friend Hansi for always best supporting me in this. I couldn't have driven it that far without you, mate!
Great week to all of you!
All my best
Some pictures as always...