The passionate German perch angler Thomas Gronenwald knows better than anyone how exceptionally well perch have thrived in the Netherlands over the past few years. There’s a reason he makes the journey to fish in our country, after all. And now, with the catch of a perch measuring no less than 56 cm, he recently set the new BNRZ perch record!
Thomas hooked the fish on a tough day, when the fish weren’t biting – according to him because of the high water level. But just before sunset he made one last cast from his bellyboat, felt a strong strike followed by a good fight. Thomas initially thought he had hooked a pike, so he was astonished when he saw the fish in his net. “I’ve caught perch measuring 54 and 55 cm before, but I immediately saw that this one could be even bigger”, he recollects.
It proved to be a new Dutch record. Since then, the Beet Nederlandse Recordlijst Zoetwatervissen (Dutch Fresh Water Catch Record List, BNRZ
) has evaluated photos of the catch and recognised it as the official Dutch perch record, smashing the previous record of 54 cm caught by Pieter-Bas Broeckx in late 2016. Thomas has clearly worked hard to earn this record, according to the many photos posted on his Instagram
accounts. Thomas with his record perch measuring 56 cm.
Home away from home
In order to preserve unique fish such as this record perch in the Netherlands, Thomas advocates a 100% catch-and-release policy and for leaving the perch alone during spawning season, with its peak month in March. He has received plenty of support in the Netherlands, feels welcome as a recreational angler, and can choose from several locations to fish from his bellyboat. Things are a bit more difficult in his home country – bellyboating is prohibited virtually everywhere in Germany, as is releasing fish after they are caught. “The Netherlands feels like a home away from home now”, he explains. “Over the years, I’ve built up some wonderful friendships here. To be honest, that means more to me than this record, although I’m of course proud of that too.”
The big question now is: can perch get even bigger? Thomas believes they can. “From everything I’ve seen over the past few years, the Netherlands is truly the El Dorado for big perch. Fish are getting longer than ever. But I’m not sure I’ll catch an even bigger one myself – you need to get really lucky to do that. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all if someone eventually beat this record.”