Plenty of fishing… but not many fish (perch article, entry 125)

The title of this week’s article says it all really. And whilst some stories keep the reader in suspense, and only in the final paragraph is all revealed, I decided to come clean from the start. After all, there’s not much of a punch line really, so it’s pointless to do anything other than to be brutally honest from the beginning. But I’m blaming the weather, and in this instance I feel I may have a point. What a cold week it has been – ice and snow and seriously minus temperatures at night. It was always going to be a struggle…

Continuing my perch campaign, I once more decided to spin on the canal, although I opted to fish a number of different venues. First up was one that I have been on before for roach but never fished specifically for perch, although I did some eel fishing there once and had a good ‘stripey’ just as it was getting dark, on gudgeon deadbait. With the conditions being cold, I was grateful of the opportunity to walk the bank as opposed to being rooted in one spot.

I had a good two hours or more, but apart from a small perch that followed the spinner to the edge, I blanked. I did get a fantastic view of a buzzard though, perched on a fence post right by the canal. It hasn’t been that long ago, that you had to go to Wales if you wanted to spot a buzzard, but now they are common birds where I live (south Staffordshire) and we even get them in the West Midlands conurbation itself.

The good thing about spinning is that you can literally turn up at a venue and start fishing straight away. There is no need to build up a swim with bait, and no heavy lugging of gear, which more or less puts pressure on you to make the most of it and stay as long as you can. And with a plethora of canals on my doorstep, the ‘couple of hours’ type sessions are ideal when you don’t have a great deal of time.

Hence I was able to get a ‘couple of hours’ in for the second trip of the week. I needn’t have bothered though as it was absolutely freezing! It was a rural stretch where I have fished previously and done quite well, but on this occasion the whole canal was dead. The sudden dramatic drop in temperature had literally put everything into hibernation mode!

But I never learn and I was back again, but this time on a third canal. At least there were a variety of venues to blank on! Following snow (some of it quite heavy) it was always going to be a struggle, and when I arrived to find that the canal had frozen over I almost quit and went home. But there were a few sections that had not succumbed to the big freeze, and so I concentrated on those. I had a few funny looks from people passing by though. I could read their thoughts, wondering what on earth possessed a man to be out fishing in this weather!

Needless to say I had my third blank of the week. But rather than quit, I was determined to get a fish. I actually returned to the same stretch the very next day, which by now had lost its ice sheet covering, although the water itself was still rock bottom temperature wise. In two and a half years of writing a weekly angling journal, I have (if my memory serves me well) only had two articles where I haven’t caught a fish. But would it be a third?

When a perch followed the spinner in to the bank after ten minutes of fishing, that was at least an encouragement. In the three previous sessions, that had happened only once. But what I really wanted was an actual fish on the bank, and my wish was granted a short time later when a small perch intercepted the spinner on the retrieve and made my day. It wasn’t big enough to pose in a ‘proper’ photograph so I had to settle for a close up in my hand. Although I fished on for a further two hours or so, it proved to be the only fish of the session. As the title says, I had done a lot of fishing but not many fish to show for it.

(Originally published December 2005)

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