Saturday, 9 May 2015

Take me to Perch

With the pike season well and truly over, and with my tench fishing just about knackered, I decided to spend a little time catching those perch I found last month. I really wanted to get more experienced at catching on jigs and dropshot so I pared the tackle right down to the bare essentials and got the boat out to give it a go. I was lucky on the first serious trip, the weather stayed calm and warm and that gave me the opportunity to fish lots of different spots on the lake to try to find out where the fish were.

The perch were actually very easy to find, they were everywhere, but the big perch were somewhat more elusive. Lots of spots were tried with lots of small stripeys, all under a pound, until I settled into a spot where a stream runs into the lake. Such places often have congegations of small fish, all feeding off the things brought down by the flowing water and I reasoned that there might be a bigger perch feeding off the small fish. I fished two rods, one with a jighead and rubber worm which was fished in a rest as a dead rod and the other on dropshot with a twitchtail minnow.

I caught perch steadily in this spot and for a time I was disappointed to find that they were no bigger than the ones I had been catching elsewhere but as the afternoon turned to evening and the light began to fade so I suddenly found myself attached to something much more substantial than the fish I had had before. It fought hard, boring deep in the clear water but slowly it came up and burst through the surface at the side of the boat. Easily the biggest perch I had ever caught, I scooped it up in the net and gave a whoop of delight.

The fish weighed 3lb 10oz and after a few pics, which I made a total mess of, I slipped it back and watched it return to the depths. I followed it up with one more perch, just short of two pounds and then there were no more bites. Pretty interesting really, once the light got low, so the perch stopped feeding. I knew this already about perch, like pike, they depend entirely on light levels for their feeding.

I slept in the tent and next morning I was out on the lake at dawn, bleary-eyed and a little cold. It was a waste of time though, nothing was feeding so early and after more than an hour without a bite I decided to strike camp, put all my camping gear in the car and then start fishing again. I did this, but on the way back to my swim from the car park I passed over a shoal of baitfish. I stopped the boat and looked at the sounder and sure enough there, down on the bottom below the baitfish was a group of bigger fish. They just HAD to be big perch and I lowered a twitchtail minnow on a light jighead in amongst them. It was there for less than ten seconds before a thumping bite dragged the rod down and I was into a big fish.

This perch weighed 3lb 13oz, a new pb but it was in trouble from the start. It had popped up like a cork, despite the fact that had been caught in only 27ft of water and no matter what I did I couldn't get it to go down. I tried putting it in a bag and fixing it to a heavy weight but it couldn't kick its way out of the bag and came back up agan when I pulled the weight up, I even tried piercing the swimbladder but found that it couldn't expel the air. I tried for over an hour and the fish just got weaker and weaker until it was obvius it would not survive and I despatched it with some regret. I'm now waiting to have the fish set up.

I followed it up with perch of 3lb 6oz and 2lb 13oz, both of which went back fine and then set off for home with mixed feelings but I had another trip the following week with Mike Ashcroft from Chester. This was a tougher week with strong winds and frequent rain and we found that the perch were in the middle of spawning so they were much harder to catch. I managed two three pound plus fish, the biggest a 3lb 6oz perch totally spawned out. Mike got a pb of 2lb 13oz so he was happy.

I'll be back for those perch later in the year but I've got my sights on something else for now!

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