Perch deserve an adverb!
I use the statement ‘I love’ quite a lot. In fact, my Twitter page profile declares ‘I love British trees, Bedlington terriers, Jesus, angling, ferrets, Motown, British wild flowers, birding, Wolverhampton Wanderers and LIFE!’ But I only drew the line at those choices because of character limits, otherwise I would have added a lot more! Not only do I love angling, for example, but I also love the individual fish. And I prove that by giving them a kiss prior to putting them back – as you will be aware if you watch my videos on a regular basis. And whilst I love barbel, roach, tench etc, I could very easily stick an adverb in the sentence when it comes to describing perch. In other words, I really love perch!
And it must be love to get me up in the morning an hour and a half before dark. As a self-confessed non-morning person, not even fishing in general automatically gets me excited about waking at a certain time. But the prospect of perch fishing the local canal saw me happily rise from my bed. It must be love! With afternoon boat traffic still a pain, there was also a practical reason as to why I was on the towpath at the crack of dawn. Fishing to far bank vegetation I was looking forward to a peaceful few hours on the canal, but just before 9.00 am I was taking the rods out as the first boat appeared around the bend to my right.
The canal in the autumn sun
But as I lifted the first rod I felt a fish on, which must have taken the bait a split second before I took the rod from the rest. Immediately it kited across the canal, and catching a slight glimpse in the top layer of the water I thought I had hooked a feisty wild common carp. But it was actually a pike, hooked neatly just on the edge of the jaw. Although some watercraft users are very inconsiderate (I’m not even going to elaborate on the idiotic canoeists I encountered recently!) these people were reasonable, as they slowed down as I brought the fish to the landing net. (And I appreciate that). It was about 6lb, but I didn’t get chance to photograph it for the article, as it had a burst of energy as it rested in the net while I got my camera ready, and it was off with a defiant flick of the tail.
It proved to be the only fish of the session, and trip number two of the week also threw up just the one, but this time a perch. It was only a small one though, so I didn’t photograph that either. I did capture it on the camcorder though, giving it a kiss before I gently lowered it back into the canal. This was an afternoon visit and boat traffic was a bit of a problem. But it was a choice of fishing up to dark or not fishing at all. No choice really. I did get to see a raven though so that made up for the lack of big fish action. It was low in flight, directly overhead, and I heard it calling just before it appeared so I was expecting it. And back in the same spot the next morning, I saw three ravens in flight, plus two later sightings of single calling birds in trees. I tried to capture one on film, and although I could see it with the naked eye, branches just in front of me meant I had no clear view.
Another good perch from the cut
I finally caught a nice perch though and managed to not only get the photograph but to shoot the fight on film as well. Although it was a cold and misty morning, it was dry, and I was able to position the camcorder so that the moment the first bleep came on the bite alarm I pressed the button and was recording as I lifted into the fish. It was a good one and as always, whilst I enjoy hooking and playing fish, the moment it’s safe in the net is the best feeling. As anglers, we all have our tales of the one that got away, but thankfully in my case they are few and far between. And the only time this fish swam away was when I let it! By the time the sun was up proper, and the world started to stir, I was back at the car ready to go home and do some work. I do value the flexibility of my working situation, it certainly helps my fishing!
Although the weather is now beginning to act more like it should do in October, the Indian summer has thrown up a few pleasant surprises. And with red campions usually flowered out by the end of August, it was nice to see a single plant still showing by the side of the canal where I fished. So for all those anglers who e-mail me fairly regularly (without success I might add) wanting to know the exact places I fish, in this instance walk the Staffs/Worcs Canal and when you see a red campion you will know where I have been! Anyway, session four to round of the week saw me on a totally different section, a good twelve or so miles away.
A very late red campion in bloom
It is an area that I have been aware of for a while, and although I have walked along the stretch before while spinning for perch, I really fancied a sit-down session with the rods out. As it was mid-week I decided to have a go in the afternoon thinking that as each day goes by surely the boat traffic must decrease. But no. It was still the same. It it wasn’t a boat chugging through the swim it was water movement from locks that made it more like river fishing than a supposed stillwater. I did decide that this would be my last afternoon session for perch until winter comes and the boat traffic really has slowed down. Until then if I go perching it will be in the morning. I didn’t catch anything this time on the deadbait rods but fishing a whip I caught a few small gudgeon, one of them going out as a bait to trap a perch.
In the last hour I had a run on the livebait rod but nothing on the strike. Fishing a single hook and wanting to hook a fish in the mouth and not the stomach, I tend to miss a few fish that way. But that’s fine, as it’s not about catching a fish at all costs. You have to balance everything and no-one wants to catch deep hooked fish, although some may argue that if we care that much for them we wouldn’t fish in the first place. But that’s another debate for another time. So, no big fish from my new stretch but I did see three ravens high overhead in calling flight (that I managed to film this time) and a late garden warbler feeding in the hedgerow behind me. So it wasn’t a wasted journey. Not that any fishing trip ever is of course!
(click icon above for this week’s video)
(Originally posted October 2009)