A nice Christmas present from the canal (perch article, entry 232)

‘Cold and dry’ was what I heard every night whilst listening to the BBC news on the television. I was almost tempted to head for the upper Severn and do some grayling / dace / chub fishing, but after last week’s failed attempt to catch a perch, I convinced myself that I still had some unfinished business on the local canal. Anyway, it was the run-in to Christmas and trying to do all my work before I take a break meant that I didn’t want to commit too much time away.

 The canal was free of ice but the local pools were all frozen over as I drove the short distance to fish. As I intended to have less than two hours on the bank, I took my spinning rod. The great thing about that mode of angling is that you can have everything set up and you don’t have to pre-bait or mess about. You simply arrive, cast out, and immediately you are fishing. And I was very encouraged, because within minutes a small perch had taken the Mepps Aglia spinner as I worked it through the clear water of the canal.

 I was so grateful to catch something that I decided to take a photograph of it. Not that it was big – quite the opposite – but with the conditions as they were, I didn’t know if I would get anything else. Now whilst that may sound defeatist, it isn’t meant to be. I was just being realistic, as I knew there wouldn’t be a great deal of fish activity. And even with the advantage of movement, I was still absolutely frozen as I worked my way along the canal. I did add another perch though and had the pleasure of watching one follow the lure to the side, taking half-hearted lunges as it did so.


Back to the car and it was a case of the heater being on full all the way home. I was out one more time to round off the week, and again just a short visit, this time for an hour and a half. It’s funny how 90 minutes can seem like a long time when watching a football match (particularly at Wolves sometimes!), but when fishing it is hardly a blink of an eye. I usually think more ‘session’ than ‘quick visit’ when planning trip, but whilst considering my options for the New Year, that’s something I will be looking at. I can probably get a lot more fishing in if I am more flexible with my time, and so that incentive alone is enough to cause me to think outside my current box.

 I was again spinning with an Aglia number one. Although this is a small lure it’s still amazing how tiny the perch are that will take it. Sometimes I end up with fish that aren’t much bigger than the spinner. But the fish – and the only one of the session – that took it this time wasn’t in that category. In fact, at just under 2lb, it is a real specimen for the venue. Whenever we use the word ‘specimen’ to describe a fish I think that the most important consideration is not the actual weight but rather the weight in comparison to the place where we are fishing. For example in some places a 2lb perch may not particularly raise any eyebrows, but for others it may be the fish of a lifetime.


But either way, I was absolutely thrilled, and it was certainly a great early Christmas present for me. With petrol now over £1 per litre, I do intend to do more local fishing in 2008, and certainly one of the specific areas that I will be exploring is perch on the canal. Long gone are the days when I would do three or four evening sessions in a week on the lower Severn, as that itself nowadays would cost me about £40 in petrol alone. Not that I intend to fish less – quite the opposite – but I need to look local a lot more from January onwards, particularly when doing shorter trips.

 (Originally published December 2007) 

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