Back to winter (perch article and video, entry 298)

Back to winter

The weather has been very spring-like of late, and that of course has been an asset as far as my gravel pit campaign has been concerned, particularly as bream and tench have been the quarry. But the last of the four nights I did over a period of two weeks saw a definite downturn in the weather. The easterly wind saw temperatures plummet and as well as a very cold night, a ground frost descended. Not that I’m frightened of the cold – far from it – but I believe it’s a wise angler who is switched on to the weather. And with more of the same predicted, I gave the pit a miss and focused on the local canal.

Struggling to catch a gudgeon


I have really enjoyed my visits to the canal this year pursuing perch and that was my plan for the week this time round as well. There are several ways of fishing for perch with my favourite at the moment being livebaiting. It does mean that you have to catch your bait first though, and whilst sometimes you have gudgeon queuing up to be caught, other times trying to catch them is akin to finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.

The frustrating thing was that I did catch two gudgeon and within minutes of them being out on the rig I was playing a fish. Not a perch I might add, but pike. So in over four hours of fishing, in effect I was only really fishing for about thirty minutes in total, if you look at it from the perspective of the maggot rod as a means to an end. Not that I am tempted to do it, but you do understand why some anglers bring their livebait with them!




Amongst the pike again

When I was a youngster – and even beyond that – the Staffs/Worcs Canal was not seen as a pike venue at all. But returning to the canal, and in particular fishing for perch, I have been surprised to see just how well rooted Esox Lucius has become. I still wouldn’t call it an established pike venue though, more that the fish are in pockets. But the numbers of different fish that I am catching shows that they are well on their way to colonisation. With so much ignorance around in the angling world towards pike, this may sound like bad news to many. But what will happen – assuming man doesn’t intervene as we often see with self-initiated pike culls – is that everything will settle into its natural balance.

The pike that I am catching from the canal aren’t big by national standards, but as with all fish we measure them against the venue. And so on that front, as long as we’re not expecting 20’s and 30’s, a low double will prove to be a very good pike. As for the future, who knows. It will be interesting to see if some real leviathans are caught. The boat traffic is heavy at times, but there are enough positives to create the right environment. In the meantime I will continue to catch them at whatever size they are. Even if I am really fishing for perch!





Back another three times

The short sessions that I do on the canal mean that I am able to get more in during the course of a week than when I pitch up at the side of the gravel pit for a two-night visit. Consequently I made another three trips to the Staffs/Worcs before the week was out, each time heading for a different section. Twice out of the three I struggled for gudgeon and on the third I was catching fish so big they were not ideal for perch livebait. You can’t win sometimes can you?

So I was more or less fishing the small 2BB waggler float, which of course will also pick up perch, as well as test the potential of all the other species as well. And when I am fishing a brand new stretch, that’s how I like to fish anyway. I did catch some small perch as well as a ruffe on one of the stretches. But I also got amongst some nice roach, including some very good ones that bumped the hook before I could net them. But all this is stored at the back of my mind for the future.

The weather gets back on track

And just as quickly as the weather turned wintry, it also got back on track at the end of the week. By the time I did my final session of the week, the wind direction had changed, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. That can only mean one thing – back to the gravel pit next week. I find that being an all-rounder keeps me fired up. Not that I need any encouragement to fish, but the old saying that variety is the spice of life definitely rings true for me. So just one week away from the pit and I can’t wait to get back! Join me next week and see how I get on. I’m confident, but then again I always am!

This week’s video

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(Originally posted April 2009)

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