Zander, Sander lucioperca

The Zander is found in the fresh and brackish (salt and fresh water mix) waters of Europe and Asia. This fish is closely related to the perch but often mistaken for pike therefore they have been given the label of pike-perch. It was introduced to the British waterways in the 20th century and spread rapidly. It can be harmful to other wildlife making it a predatory fish.

The Zander fish is a popular game fish and is consumed frequently. It can reach 44 pounds with an average length of 16-32 inches; its max length is 47 inches. It has an elongated body, like pike, and a spiny dorsal fin, like perch. The zander chases its prey then strikes but since it is not a good striker it will generally prey on wounded fish.

Sexual maturity is reached at 3 – 10 years of age. Zanders will migrate from brackish water to fresh water for spawning. Spawning is in April through May and usually takes place either at dawn or at night.

Zander is a valuable menu item in Europe. It is loved for its delicate flavors; it has a light, firm yet tender meat and has very little bones. In 2004, restaurants in the US, such as Minnesota, began importing Zander to replace the walleye without changing the name of the dishes. While in Poland the Zander is considered a delicacy due to the difficulty in catching them. Finland conservation agencies have made a law regulating the minimum size allowed to be eaten.

Image Caption: Zander (Stizostedion lucioperca), caught in Cyprus on March 17, 2007. Credit: eLNuko/Wikipedia (public domain)