Another surprise from the canal (perch article and video, entry 305)



Another surprise from the canal

Some years ago , if I were asked the question ‘What is your favourite fish?’ I would have answered without hesitation ‘chub’. Then a time came when ‘barbel’ would have been the instant reply. But for quite a while now I have been unable to give a quick response. In fact I can’t come up with a single species at all that rises to the top of the pile, and I am more than happy to say that my favourite fish is the one that I am targeting at that particular time. I genuinely love all fish and whether it be barbel from the river, tench from the gravel pit or even wrasse from the rocks, I appreciate them all. But without doubt, at the moment, perch from the canal would have to be there on the list.

Late evening and waiting for a fish

I’ve certainly put the time in this year regarding angling trips and well over half of them have been dedicated to fishing for perch on the Staffs/Worcs Canal. I take my angling seriously in the context that I want to do well, and I want to catch big fish. But I am also of the very firm persuasion that it has to be enjoyable. Setting off on a session at the water’s edge should not be looked at in the same light as going to the dentist! It’s not like work, it’s not about meeting deadlines and the only pressure involved should be when a fish puts a bend in our rod!

I have been doing a few early morning sessions this spring, but I found that I wasn’t the only one getting up at the crack of dawn, as some very early boats ploughed through the swim. In the end I decided that rather than getting up at 4.00am myself (I am not a morning person at all), if boats were going to disrupt the fishing, I would at least go on the evening when it wasn’t going to be a battle with the bed. And funnily enough the late evening boat traffic has been better than the early morning shift!

Another surprise from the canal

A couple of weeks ago, roach fishing on the canal saw me land a surprise in the form of a double-figure mirror carp. This time round I had another unexpected catch as I connected with a nice eel. But fishing with legered gudgeon sections it isn’t an earth-shattering revelation. I am hoping to do a number of eel sessions though this summer and this stretch of canal was high on the agenda, so the fish was certainly an encouragement. I had only said to my wife a day or so before that I hadn’t caught a personal best for a while, and this eel changed that. I haven’t had that many bigger ones though, so it wasn’t going to grab the headlines in the same way as if I break my barbel pb.

It must have been the week for eels, because on my second trip of the week I again caught the species, although this time round just a small one – what is known as a bootlace, for obvious reasons. Apart from that fish it was very quiet and I didn’t have a single bleep other than when the flow on the canal increased and vegetation caught on the line. Fishing with a 1/8th of an ounce lead it doesn’t take much to trigger a reaction. And the minimum resistance approach is my approach for the canal perch. I’m using a Nash Featherlite hanger and letting it lie on the ground.

Caught right at the end

I don’t use the word ‘luck’ myself, believing that what happens in life is pretty much down to choices that we make. But if I did then the phrase ‘Third time lucky’ would probably be rolled out as on my third and final session of the week I caught my target species, the perch. Fishing as previously, with two gudgeon sections, I was getting constant taps on the rod and single bleeps on the bite alarms. They weren’t liners either but small fish plucking at the deadbaits. And that looked about all the action that I was going to get. In fact I recorded what I thought was going to be my last video clip of the week on the camcorder to that that effect. But within minutes, I was over the right rod, striking into a fish.

I did wonder whether it was another eel, but as it came into the upper layers of the murky water, I saw that it was indeed a perch. Not as big as some of the fish that I have been encountering lately, but nevertheless still a nice one. The hook had taken very neatly in the side of the mouth so it was a very simple task to unhook the fish, take a photograph and then let it swim back to its watery home. Not sure if that will be its fate though if it gets caught by the couple of Eastern European lure anglers that made their way along the canal. I had a chat with them and they were very friendly and seemed genuinely nice people. I even made a point of mentioning about fish going back but it’s a clash of cultures. I don’t know what the answer is. Well, I do, but let’s not go there. This is a fishing website, not a political soapbox, so the only poles I am going to elaborate on are the 17m ones with elastic coming out the end!


This week’s video (click icon above)

(Originally published


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