One fish but many methods (perch article and video, entry 331)


One fish but many methods

This article is my 330th since launching my Angling Journal back in 2003, and I must say I have enjoyed writing every single one. One of the important things is to get a decent headline without going over the top. I most definitely avoid the tabloid approach – which at best can be cheesy but at worst trashy – and try to capture the feel of the article without going overboard. Fortunately, from regular weekly feedback that I get, it doesn’t seem to matter what heading I go for as many are going to read it anyway. But I see the headline as something that may draw a few extra people in who otherwise wouldn’t have bothered. Usually it comes quite easily and naturally, as indeed this week, when I targeted one species but by a variety of methods.

My first session was on the lower reaches of the River Severn, prior to the severe rainfall that then pushed the river at least bank high, and in some places over the top and into the fields. With twenty feet of water just a rod length out my chosen method was a cage feeder. Fishing single maggot on a size 18 hook, I packed the feeder with both live and dead maggots and used brown crumb to hold it all together. Once the feeder hit the bottom the live maggots would break everything up and the gentle flow would help to set up a nice carpet of bait. An afternoon session, I had a few taps but just the one fish to show for my efforts. I don’t know how many anglers specifically target perch on the lower Severn – not many I would imagine. But in the few visits I’ve made this autumn it’s definitely been encouraging.

A lower Severn perch

Second time round though I was back on the local canal. With the cost of fuel it is hard to justify long distances, particularly if I’m only going to be out for a few hours. And living in an area where there are more miles of canal than in Venice it makes sense to tap into what’s on the doorstep. I decided to fish a brand new section – and what a walk it was. A dog walker commented that in all the years he’s been that way on a daily basis, he’s never seen another angler. And I wasn’t surprised either, as not only was it a hike and a half, but I also passed numerous good looking swims on the way. Although I didn’t blank, I only had a couple of small perch on the waggler rod fishing a single maggot. The gudgeon section presented on a ledger rod didn’t produce anything at all, although I was encouraged by a mini-run. However I couldn’t determine whether it was a fish or a clump of leaves that had produced the moment of action!

The birding was decent enough though, with the best sighting of the morning being a peregrine falcon, firstly in lazy flight and then in dive bomb mode. As a keen birder I am always alert to what’s going on and even when I’m sitting in my seat at Molineux watching the Wolves, I’m aware of what’s above me. In recent weeks I saw my last but one butterfly of the year, a small tortoiseshell fluttering past the South Bank! I must be a multi-tasker extraordinaire as I can comfortably handle two things at once, no problem! Mind you it’s not going very well for us at the moment, as we find ourselves in the bottom three for the first time since the opening day of the season. But I’m still confident that we will be in the Premier League next season, just as my confidence is always sky high when I go fishing!

A hard fighting canal chub

The third session of the week saw me in the same general area but a different peg. I again fished a single maggot on a small waggler and a legered deadbait section, but once I caught my first gudgeon, the latter method changed to a livebait set-up. Keeping it simple, I slipped a 5g Drennan bob float on the line stopped by a power gum knot and lip-hooked the fish with a size 6 hook. A small shot was the only other item of tackle. I had two runs but didn’t connect with either fish on the strike, and unfortunately although I had several perch and a roach, I caught no more gudgeon. I do smile at myself sometimes; I can catch big fish but not small ones! I really wanted another gudgeon, instead I had to make do with a lifeless one that had been mauled twice by predatory perch.

The leaves were a problem on this trip in particular and I came to the conclusion that I was a leaf magnet, as a relatively clear canal became harder and harder to fish as leaves congregated. Yet as I walked back to the car, there were vast stretches of open water. I still had my naturalist’s head on though by identifying the trees that the various leaves had come from, with pedunculate oak being the predominant species. I do have anorak tendencies for sure! On a serious level though, I find that the wider appreciation of the natural world makes each fishing session so much more enjoyable. Up to date for the week I hadn’t really got amongst any big fish, but the various other interests I have helped to more than compensate for that.

The last fish of the week

It was the fourth and final outing though that saw me finally come good and catch something worth shouting about. And following the methods of float fished maggot, legered gudgeon section, cage feeder and livebait set-up, I made it number five as I legered lobworm. Fishing from bank sticks with a bite alarm using a lightweight hanger on the line, no wonder I get asked questions like ‘Are there carp in here then?’ It’s funny how the moment some anglers see rods horizontal on a bite alarm they assume carp! It was an horrendous day weather wise and I almost – but I have to stress the word almost – turned over when the alarm clock went off and stayed in bed. But it will take more than gale force winds and severe downpours to keep me away from the water’s edge, and not much into first light I was ready for action at the canal.

And a busy three hours it was too. I had numerous perch and a single chub, which put in a battling performance. Most of the perch were small though, this is where I find dead baits produce quality over quantity. But I was more than happy to get a bend in the rod and when the fish are coming regularly there is always the chance that a special one will be next. And that’s what happened, but how late it was. Definitely a minute to midnight job. As always I put away as much non-essential stuff as I could, leaving the rods till last. And as I was about to lift the first one to break it down I had a run, resulting in not only the best fish of the session but the best of the week. So it was definitely a happy angler that made his way back to the car. Wet, yes: muddy, yes: but very happy.


(click icon above for this week’s video)


(Originally published November 200()

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