Carp and Wels catfish / Zander, barbel and channel catfish

Wels catfish

The Wels catfish in the Arno grow to gigantic weights in excess of 220lb / 100kg and over 230cm / 7.5ft in length.

The average (estimated) size is 35lb / 15kg and 125cm / 4ft in length.

We target Wels catfish on the fly or using lures, an approach for which our trips have become renowned in Europe. Specialist tackle is essential, and attention must be paid to fly / lure selection and presentation.

The catfish fishing is consistent from April to November, with September and October offering optimum conditions and results.

For the chance of sighted fishing, the best windows are June / July and September / October.


The Arno contains specimen common carp and mirror carp in abundance.

The predominant strain is common carp with an average weight of 14lb / 6kg and an upper weight of 35lb / 16kg – 42lb / 19kg. The mirror carp and grass carp are caught less frequently but both species grow to well over 50lb / 23kg.

The carp fishing can be fast, exciting and prolific. An average catch during a 9 hr session consists of 2 or 3 carp, but up to 10 over 9 hrs is not unusual if conditions are right, especially during the summer.

Zander, barbel and channel catfish

Zander, barbel and channel catfish have thrived in the Arno since 2014, and it is now possible to focus trips (or at least a few hours) on targeting these species specifically. Guidelines are:

Zander - localised populations on two stretches. During 2015, zander fishing highly prolific from September to mid-November. Tactics – lightweight spinning or fly fishing with a 7wt. Possible to catch 5 – 15 in a few hours if conditions are right, esp. from dusk into dark or from daybreak into first light on overcast days. Predominately juvenile fish of 30 – 45cm. Based on 2015 to 2017, good size zander weighing 3 – 6lb.

Barbel - localised populations on three stretches. 2017 season (to date), barbel fishing most prolific during April / May before weed growth established or channel catfish activity increases, then prolific again in September / October as weed dies back. Tactics – float fishing or freelining using lightweight tackle or fly fishing with a 6wt. Possible to catch 5 – 10 barbel in a few hours throughout the day. Based on 2017 (to date), good size barbel weighing 4 – 7lb.

Channel catfish - dense populations on all stretches, but large specimens localised. Ounce-for-ounce hardest fighting fish in the Arno. Since 2014, channel catfish fishing prolific from March to November. Tactics – lighweight spinning or fly fishing with a 7wt, but stalking only method of consistently selecting larger fish. Possible to catch unlimited numbers every day at all times of day from April to November. Fish ranging from 10 – 70cm, but significantly larger fish possible. Since 2014, good sized channel catfish weighing 10 – 15lb.