Zander is a species of fish from freshwater and brackish habitats in western Eurasia. It is closely related to the Perch. Zander are not, as is commonly believed, a Pike and Perch hybrid. In Europe, a second species is present. These two species are suspected to hybridize occasionally where they are sympatric, as they produce fertile hybrids in captivity; no natural hybrids are known yet however, and while they are apparently hard to detect, it is suspected that the species are separated by strong prezygotic isolation. It strongly resembles, both in looks and in taste, the closely related American Walleye.
Their body is elongate, slender, laterally compressed, covered with very small scales (70 - 95 in lateral line), without cross-bars. Lateral line continues on the tail fin. They have a large mouth, the rear end of the maxilla in adults behind vertical from posterior edge of the eye. Total of dorsal spines are 13 – 20. The second dorsal fin has 18 - 24 soft rays; 2 – 3 anal spines with 11-14 soft rays, Caudal fin with 17 soft rays, Vertebrae: 45 - 47. No spines on the gill cover. Their upper and lower jaws have strong teeth. The mouth is large compared with the Perch and Ruffe, but small relative to the cavernous jaws of the Pike. What the Zander's jaws lack in size however, they make up for in the size of the teeth they contain. On both, the front of the lower and upper jaws are found pairs of large fang-like teeth. These fit into hollows in the opposite side of the jaws and are used to stab the prey, inflicting a fatal wound, and then to hold it. The eyes are large and have a peculiar glassy look. This is because they incorporate a reflective plate or tapetum, which increases their sensitivity at night and in poor light. Gill cover partially covered with scales. The back is greenish-gray. There are 8 – 12 brown-black transverse bands on the sides and rows of dark spots at the dorsal and caudal fins. Other fins pale are yellow. They can grow up to 130 cm, weight 20 kg.
This is an extremely popular sport fish. Best method is the free running lead ledgered bait; although pole fishing with a float is even more successful method. The drawback with using floats is that it can be pushed down the line by the surface currents which then means you are not presenting the bait at the depth you wish. Another essential thing is good quality fresh bait, preferably a live bait, unlike the Pike which will take any opportunity for a free meal. Hair rigged pieces of roach or spratt tail is a superb bait for the Zander often producing bites on bright flat calm sunny days but the best advice is to have an open mind with bait selection but remember a small presented bait section is a quick and easy meal for a Zander to swallow especially when they are in a finicky mood. The best time for fishing is in the morning, evening or night.
They inhabit Eastern and central Europe, Sweden and Finland, Western Asia; introduced into several European countries, rivers in southern Russia and the basin of the Danube. They found in brackish waters of Baltic, Black, Azov, Caspian and Aral seas, Lake Balkhash, Issyk-Kul, Hanka, in Ust-Kamenogorsk reservoir.