Different venues – same species
I wouldn’t describe myself as a particularly emotional person. Not that I’m hard-hearted either; just that I don’t go in for soppy heart-string feelings. I don’t cry at sad relationship movies, in fact I don’t even watch them in the first place. And I don’t have a box of love letters hidden away – not that I ever had any in the first place either, but you get my drift. But there is one card that I still have on display – on my bookcase – months after my wife sent it to me. It’s from our wedding anniversary earlier this year and was hand-made by my wife and is of a shoal of perch! Although my wife is not an angler, she takes more than a passing interest in my passion and didn’t need any help with choosing this species as the one to put on the card.
This year to date, almost half of my hundred plus sessions have been after perch, and mostly on the local canal. I think the perch is a magnificent fish and given the chance to fish a venue that contained 10lb barbel or 3lb perch, the latter would win hands down every time. In fact I wouldn’t even have to give it a second thought, that’s how highly I rate the species on the pleasure-to-fish-for factor. So, heading for the local canal on the Sunday afternoon, I was as happy as the guy who is on his way to the river after a big barbel. Now that we’re well into autumn and the school holidays are a distant memory, I was hoping that the boat traffic would be minimal. However it was quite the opposite and if it wasn’t a boat coming through, it was water movement from a lock.
A great end to session one
In fact I had a fish on at one time that I thought was the water dragging my light lead along. The moment any debris hit the line it pulled round. But as I lifted the rod I felt, just for a brief moment, a fish on the end. However that’s all it was, a brief moment. And due to the water-based activity for the rest of the evening I didn’t expect to get amongst any more fish. But right at the very end – as I was actually beginning to pack away – I had a run on the right rod as something had obviously picked up the gudgeon tail section. With eels and chub in the canal (although it’s now getting cooler for the former), not to mention carp that will very often pick up a deadbait, you never know what you have until you strike or even see the fish in the water. So I was more than happy to discover that it was indeed a perch I was playing – and a decent enough one at that. So it was that thin line again, the line between success and failure, that once more had been drawn in my favour.
The natural world is now starting to take on a very autumnal look. I looked into the field behind the canal, that just a few months back in spring was ablaze with lesser celandine. Now it’s devoid of colour as even the subsequent flowering plants have gone. But in the hedgerow I spotted a single red campion still showing well. There were also lots of white dead-nettles around, but they tend to go on quite late anyway. Plus the ever-increasing numbers of Himalayan balsam which were also in flower. They are very pretty when you look at them close-up, the problem is that they invade and colonise so quickly that the dense canopy they create stifles all the growth in the area that they take root in. While many plants happily co-exist, the Himalayan balsam takes no prisoners.
One of the lower Severn fish
The next couple of sessions in this week’s article, although I stayed with the species, saw me switch to a different venue. Although synonymous with barbel fishing – and I’ve done my fair share of hours on there over the years – the lower Severn also has other fish swimming around. And so instead of just thinking about the perch potential, I decided to actually do something about it. My approach had to be totally different, and with much bigger predators around I kept away from my fish bait and 4lb line tactics that I successfully employ on the canal. As far as line strength was concerned, I actually dropped down to 2.5lb line straight through to a size 18 hook. But I fished maggot and employed a cage feeder to get everything down to the twenty feet of water I found in both swims that I fished.
I filled the feeder with maggots (both live and dead) and used brown crumb mixed to the right consistency so that it got down to the river bed before it started to ooze out. First time round I had a number of small bream, a couple of eels and a roach as well as my target species. Although I’ve fished the stretch many times before I have never specifically gone for perch so I used maggot to give me a good indication of what I might catch. The perch was decent enough though, so as it was an exploratory session, I was reasonably happy. The second visit saw me set up in a different swim. Although I only had two fish, both of them were nice perch, so I was again a happy angler. I think I will probably give the river more time in the future after the species; the only problem is there are so many things I want to do that even if I fish every day for the next hundred years, I’ll still be left unfulfilled!
A perch swim on the lower Severn
To round the article off it was back to the canal. I had toyed with the idea of an early start, but not really being a morning person, an evening slot made available by some efficient work-related administration on my part meant that I was fishing at 5.00pm and not 5.00am. However just like the first session, it was frustrated somewhat by the boats. Not that I have a problem with them being on the canal, far from it. I just wish they would moor up at a reasonable hour and take a break! Unlike the first trip though, this one proved fruitless and so I recorded my first blank of the week. But as anyone who pursues specimen fish of any species knows, that’s just part of the package. When you’re chasing a tiny percentage of the fish that inhabit the venue it’s obvious that the odds are heavily stacked in the favour of the quarry. And fish don’t grow big by being stupid!
(click icon above for this week’s video)
(Originally published October 2009)