My debut as a spinner (perch article, entry 122)

There is so much variety in the angling world that I doubt if anyone has tried everything. I know as far as I am concerned there are still things that I want to have a go at, and this week saw me tick another ‘to do’ off the list. I invested in some spinning tackle and went lure fishing for perch on the local canal, which is something I have been intending to do for a long time. Well not necessarily on the canal I suppose, but rather spinning for perch.

So armed with my new spinning rod and a selection of brightly coloured lures, I parked the car and walked the short distance to the canal. The obviously noticeable difference is the weight. No chair, no bait bucket, tackle down to an absolute minimum – I kept thinking that I had left something behind, everything was so lightweight. It was literally rod in hand and Fox Rover rucksack on back. Even my landing net was fixed to the rucksack and so didn’t have to be carried.

On arrival at the canal the usual cluster of mallards were present, waiting for the locals to turn up with bread. Amongst the thirty or so birds though was a male mandarin duck. I haven’t seen it before so it must be a fairly new arrival, and how long it will stay is anyone’s guess. But it certainly seemed very much at home with the mallards competing for the bread that an elderly couple were throwing into the canal. They are very pretty birds, as the photograph indicates. Although I’ve seen them before, I’ve never been close enough to get a good image.

Setting up to fish was really easy – thread the line through the rod rings and tie on a spinner. There are no pike present and so no wire trace was necessary, although if there were any doubts at all I would have used a trace. But knowing the canal well over a number of years, I have never heard of a single pike being caught, or one snatching at fish being brought in, and have never seen any activity of the species at all.

I intended to fish a couple of sections – working on the basis that the water between a bridge is a section – which in the time I had available seemed about right. With just an afternoon to spare, the good thing about spinning is that you can literally just turn up and immediately start fishing. And within minutes of casting out I found myself landing a chub about the 1lb mark. This was quickly followed by a small (and I mean small) perch, that was only a little larger than the lure itself!

In fact, I encountered this on a number of occasions – very small fish taking the bait. Once as I drew the spinner in and lifted it from the water, a small perch’s head followed it, lunging at it. With a very clear canal, several times fish followed the bait right to the edge, and most of the fish caught were hooked within a few feet of the towpath. It’s quite exciting to see the lure coming towards you, with a dark shadow underneath ready to pounce.

My target species of perch made the net on a number of occasions, none of the fish were very large, but still put up a great fight. I also had a few chub; a couple of them were good-sized fish. I’ve never really given spinning for chub too much thought in the past, always preferring to fish static legered baits, but it is certainly worth considering in the future, when I next undergo a chub campaign. It’s certainly great fun, if nothing else.

When I bought my spinners, my wife was with me and she chose one particular design. I tried a few, but this one was hot stuff. I caught fish after fish on it, unfortunately it was lost on an underwater snag – the only time I found myself tangled during the whole session. I don’t know who was the most disappointed – my wife or myself.

Towards the end of the session I was caught in a terrific downpour, and even though I had my all-in-one suit on, still got quite wet. But that’s the fun of fishing – particularly when you get home, take a shower and spend the rest of the night in front of the fire. I really enjoyed my time fishing for perch on the canal and even as I drove home I was planning my next trip. And that’s what angling is all about – wanting more.

(Originally published November 2005)



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