Carp and Wels Catfish / Zander, Barbel, Channel Catfish, Blue Catfish, Chub and Sunfish

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 late May, June, 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.

Zander, Barbel, Channel Catfish, Blue Catfish, Chub and Sunfish

Zander, Barbel and Channel Catfish have thrived in the Arno in recent seasons, and it is now possible to focus trips (or at least a few hours) on targeting these species specifically. Blue Catfish and Chub are common bycatch. Sunfish are occasional bycatch. Guidelines are:

Zander - localised populations on two stretches. During 2015 and 2018, zander fishing highly prolific from September to mid-November. Tactics – lightweight spinning or fly fishing with a 7wt. Possible to catch 5 – 10 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. Good size zander weighing 2 – 5lb.

Barbel - rapidly growing, localised populations on three stretches. During 2017 and 2018 seasons, barbel fishing most prolific during April / May before weed growth established or channel catfish activity increases, then prolific again in September / early 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. Good size barbel weighing 3 – 7lb.

Channel Catfish - dense populations on all stretches, but large specimens localised. Since 2014, channel catfish fishing highly 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 from April to November, esp. at dusk and for one to two hours after dark. Fish ranging from 10 – 80cm, but significantly larger fish possible. Good sized channel catfish weighing 10 – 18lb.

Blue Catfish – known populations on two stretches. Ounce-for-ounce hardest fighting fish in the Arno. Normally ten to twenty blue catfish landed per year, mostly in in the summer or early autumn when targeting Wels catfish. Very aggressive species. Tactics – spinning methods for Wels catfish or freelining in slack water. Good sized blue catfish weighing 10 – 20lb.

Chub – growing populations on two, possibly three, stretches. Chub fishing most consistent in April / May and September / early October. Tactics – flyfishing with a 5wt or 6wt. Good sized chub weighing 2 – 3lb, but larger chub expected in 2019 and beyond.

Sunfish – growing population on one stretch. Sunfish fishing possible in the summer. Tactics – fly fishing with a 5wt.