Leaving it very late, but it comes good in the end (perch article and video, entry 289)

Leaving it very late, but it comes good in the end

It’s been a cold week, not that I had a reading as far as the water was concerned, due to the fact that last week Mr Clumsy kicked his thermometer in the canal. But mixing brown crumb at the start of the sessions, the finger-in-the-water test let me know without any doubt whatsoever that it was cold. And the numb toes merely reinforced the reminder that it was January after all and I shouldn’t be expecting anything else really. And the week was hard going on the fish front too, which again brought me back to reality just in case I was expecting fish feeding frenzies.


Back after the canal perch

It may not be the best use of my time targeting canal perch at the moment, and I readily concede that I could be more successful by going after other species – but I am really enjoying fishing the canals this year and in my thoughts for the week when planning where I will be going, enjoyment is always at the top of the list. So perch it was and two rods accompanied me on each trip – a float rod and a livebait rod. The former was a small 2BB waggler, to both catch gudgeon for the latter and also to tempt perch as well. A single red maggot is an excellent bait for a perch of any size.

But it’s the livebait set-up that I want to write about in more detail. If you are fishing a venue that holds pike in both quantity, and quality, then it’s going to be hard fishing light livebait tackle. If a 20lb fish picks up a small bait intended for perch, then you will know about it. But the aspect that should concern us more than anything is leaving tackle in lost fish. This is to be considered for all species but especially so when pike are around as they can – and will – make light of presentations that are not up to the job. But when you are on a venue where pike are thin on the ground – or in pockets – then that is a different thing altogether. However it still throws up the dilemma that even though you aren’t going to be inundated with pike, there is still the possibility that you will hook one. And those were the type of stretches that I fished this week.


A greedy perch takes a gudgeon


Hooklength dilemma

For mainline I fished 8lb Sufix Synergy. With pike not plentiful, most (if any) were going to be small anyway, so that strength line was a comfortable compromise. I would like to fish much lighter but the very real possibility of a fish trailing line and tackle behind it meant that I had to go for the heavier option. The real debate in my mind though was in regards to the hooklength. Mono was out as any pike would inevitably bite through it but I didn’t want to go for wire either. With wire I would lose no fish at that point of contact but it meant that the pressure would be on the line should a very big fish be hooked.

In the end I settled on the compromise of QuickSilver which is an abrasion resistant line made by Kryston. Plus I was using a single hook (Drennan Super Specialist size 4), so in the event that a pike did go through the hooklength, there wasn’t the problem of having it swimming around with trebles lodged in its throat. I always strike early anyway, preferring a lost fish to one that is deep hooked. It may cost me fish on the bank but I believe it’s a price worth paying.







Tip of the week


Perseverance is an important ingredient in angling. Don’t give up too easily but stick to it and it will come good in the end more often than not.


The frustration of missed runs

The first session on a section I have been fishing regularly lately, saw me catch a small pike on the livebait rod as well as a number of gudgeon on maggot. For the next few trips though I decided to head for a new stretch of canal. It’s not new as in I have never fished there before, but as it was 1997 when I last visited, so it may as well be new. I caught a gudgeon first cast and so that went out on the livebait rod. Within minutes I was hitting a run as the 5g bob float made off across the canal. The fish was on for a few seconds, but unfortunately came off. But I left the bait where it was and the predator struck again. But as first time round it came off after a few moments.

In the space of ninety minutes I had three runs, with two of them giving me a second bite of the cherry as just described. So that was a total of five strikes into fish but frustratingly not one of them saw the hook take hold. And I was convinced as well that they were perch and not pike. But rather than be discouraged I was inspired to return to the same spot again. But on the two occasions that I did (lots of fishing this week!) I struggled to catch even a gudgeon and I blanked! Seeing your livebait rod ready and waiting but nothing to put on it makes you understand why some anglers bring their own bait. But not me. If I can’t catch them fair and square then I’ll not livebait.



A nice perch right at the very end

It comes good at the end

To round the week off though I headed back to the spot where I recently lost a big perch. I caught a few small perch on maggot and one a little bigger on the livebait rod so at least it was nice to get some action. And squeezing in a final session (like I said, lots of fishing) I found myself on the towpath at first light Friday morning. I’ll never be a match angler as it took me an hour to catch a gudgeon, but once I did it was out on the livebait rod. I added a few more gudgeon plus a couple of roach but the bob float remained quiet until the last hour when I struck into a run that resulted in a nice perch being lifted from the water in the landing net.

It had been a very slow week but it just shows how perseverance is an important part of angling. Watercraft, experience and knowledge are all vital, but without determination to see it through we will often fall short. As we leave the month behind, I’ve been happy with January, particularly as we are experiencing the coldest winter in 13 years. But February lies ahead and although that can be a very sharp month, I’m going into it full of confidence. And then it will be March and I’ll be tench fishing on a gravel pit with nothing but rats to keep me company. I must be mad.


Click on the icon for this week’s video clip


The week ahead

The weather forecast is for bitterly cold winds from Russia to hit the country over the next week. So at this moment in time, I am not sure where I will be fishing. The canals may be well be frozen solid again, in which case I will be hitting the rivers. Either way, one thing I do know for sure is that I will be fishing somewhere!

(Originally published January 2009)

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