It’s a marathon not a sprint (perch article and video, entry 304)

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Labels are a fact of life and angling is no different. Not that we are necessarily putting people into a pigeon-hole when we call them pleasure anglers, matchmen or whatever, we’re simply identifying the branch of the sport that they enjoy or are doing at that time. I fit into a couple of categories – a specimen angler and a specialist angler. It can be argued that they are in fact one and the same, and many anglers would go with that. But the way that I see things is that I not only target the bigger fish in a venue (specimen angler) but I also fish deliberately for a specific species every time I go on a session (specialist angler). So I’m happy to adopt either (or both) of the tags.


My 50th session of the year


And one fish that I have certainly targeted this year has been the perch. In fact this week saw me not only hit my 50th angling session of the year, but also my 28th perch trip. So when I say that I have fished for perch more than anything else so far put together, that’s a true statement. It’s also correct to say that I am thoroughly enjoying it. I think the perch is a beautiful fish and like all others, once you start to catch the bigger ones of the species, they are truly outstanding.

If you are a specimen (or specialist!) angler though, the one thing you have to be prepared for are blanks. I do catch some nice fish over the course of the year, but I put the time in and have lots of hours where it’s literally a waiting game. If you’re the sort of angler that likes constant action (and there’s nothing wrong with that) then my style of fishing isn’t going to be for you. Along with watercraft, time, experience and so on, I would list patience and perseverance as essential ingredients.


After two blanks, a perch

A slow start with three blanks

And to enforce that point, I started the week with three blanks. Two were on a section of canal that I have had big perch from before and the other on a stretch that I fished with livebait and had several missed runs. So all in all I was very confident as I set up at the crack of dawn hoping to get a good three or four hours in before the boats came along. But it didn’t work out that way and frustratingly several came along at a time when boating people ought to be asleep! But they have as much right to be there as me, so you have to accept it or fish somewhere else.

I decided to fish gudgeon section deadbaits this week and that gave me plenty of time to mooch around the surrounding hedgerows as I had a bite alarm as an indicator. Not that I wandered off of course, but it means you can at least turn your back on your rods. The flowers are coming out in force and I logged greater stitchwort, ribwort plantain, cow parsley, chickweed, white dead-nettle, common nettle, red campion, lesser celandine, garlic mustard, bluebell and butterbur – and all within spitting distance of where I was fishing. It’s amazing what’s out there once you start to take an interest in the wider nature package that angling brings. And as I so often say, there’s no such thing as weed. Just like there’s no such thing as a nuisance fish!


The second fish of the week


Perch and owls give a good end to the week

Being patient and persevering paid off in the end though as one session number four I caught a nice perch on gudgeon tail. And seeing a barn owl on the way there, still in darkness, certainly made the three consecutive blanks nothing more than a nightmare. And to top the week off a late evening trip saw me connect with a bigger fish to totally banish the bad dreams altogether. And on the way back home I saw a tawny owl in flight across the road.

My perch sessions are very short, between two and four hours, with the evening ones closer to the former than the latter. I don’t watch much TV and I’m not a movie person at all, so in the time that it takes to watch some Hollywood ego parading around on the screen, I’ve caught a perch. It’s not so much that I have more time than anyone else to fish, just what I do with it. Plus I have a very understanding wife who knows how much my angling means to me. And that is a big factor!

A 2lb perch is a specimen

And finally, one thing we have to consider when we talk about big fish is the venue. Don’t fall in to the trap where all that matters is the weight, because it doesn’t. One of the most important factors is the venue, because if a 40lb carp isn’t there, no matter how hard you try you simply won’t catch one. So in that case, a 20lb fish might be a specimen. On the Staffs/Worcs Canal, in my book a perch over 1lb is a good one and anything over 2lb is a specimen. I know there are anglers who catch 3’s every other cast! I’ve had several over the 2lb mark and have no doubt that there will be bigger fish in there, but not in the density that some claim. But then again, they also catch 3lb roach on the canal and as for double figure barbel on the middle Severn, well they’re so common they’re a pest as they get in the way of the 8lb chub.Get my drift!

This week’s video

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(Originally published May 2009)

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