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VISpas Hotspots: de Berkel (Gelderland)

VISpas Hotspots: de Berkel (Gelderland)

De Berkel is a stream that runs approximately 115 kilometres from Germany to Zutphen, where it empties into the Gelderse IJssel river. The canalized stream is currently being restored to its original meandering course, which will only make it a more pleasant location for anglers. That is good news, considering the rich stocks of coarse fish, predatory fish and carp already present in the Berkel.

image: Waterschap Rijn & IJssel

The whole waterbody is included in the VISpas.

De Berkel – which has an average depth of 1.5 meters and is generally 20 to 30 meters wide – is rain-fed stream. As a result, the current slows to a trickle during long dry spells, but there are peak flows after heavy rainfall. In general, anglers have noticed that the stronger the current in the Berkel, the better the catch. 
Canalisation of the Dutch stretch of the Berkel in the mid-1970s straightened the winding course of the stream. The construction of dams also divided the stream into sections. These interventions had a dramatic effect on the nature, landscape and fish stocks. Fortunately, water and landscape managers have acknowledged the mistake: projects to restore the meandering course have been completed, while others are under preparation or construction, and fish corridors have been built around many of the dams. The water has also become cleaner over the years. More nature-friendly banks have made room for more and more water plants, to the benefit of anglers.

Coarse fish

The main coarse fish stocks in the stream are roach with an average length of 15 to 20 centimetres, and they love casters as bait. A pole is the most effective technique to ensure the best distance from the banks (between 5 and 15 meters). The clear waters make it important to fish stealthily. A 10 or 12/00 lower line with a size 14 to 18 hook is definitely not undersized here. You can also consider using floats and match rods to increase the chance of catching a bream (there aren’t many in the Berkel, but anglers occasionally hook individuals weighing between two and three kilos).Tench also feel at home in the Berkel. But we recommend using sturdier gear, and fishing closer to the aquatic plants.

Predatory fish

Pike and perch thrive among the aquatic vegetation in the clear waters of the Berkel. Perch are especially numerous, and you can expect to catch individuals measuring between 20 and 30 centimetres using spinners or small plugs. Bridges and other man-made features are absolute hotspots. Pike anglers generally catch individuals that are between 50 and 80 centimetres long, but with a bit of luck you might hook one measuring a meter or more. Spinner lures are a good choice in summer and early autumn, especially in shallows or spots with lots of aquatic plants. During the rest of the year or in spots without plants, you can do just fine with jerkbaits or shads. The Wels catfish reports are especially noteworthy.Catches are still sporadic at the moment, but they are increasing in number. The individuals are still small – no more than 50 cm – but they have the potential to grow into real monsters.


Carp anglers can expect the best catches from remote spots. Some carp weigh up to 30 pounds, but there are rumours of even heavier fish hiding in the Berkel. Thanks to two recent release projects by the Hengelsport Federatie Midden Nederland (Central Netherlands Angling Federation), the future of the population is also guaranteed. The last release is scheduled for next year. These carp were paid for in part by Waterschap Rijn & IJssel, as a token of gratitude for volunteer anglers rescuing fish in the summer of 2018. There are some gems among the mirror carp in the Berkel as a result of the release project, which definitely makes the stream worth a visit.

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