The firecrest can wait! (perch article, entry 128)

After the quality perch I caught last week, there was only ever going to be one destination for the next session. Not that I am a glory hunter or anything like that (I do support Wolves after all, so that rules that out of my character) but when you stumble across what appears to be a decent section, then you are bound to go back and explore more. I’ve certainly fished some miles of water since I started my perch campaign on the local canal network, and not all of it has been productive. So the discovery of a potential goldmine inevitably invites a little more investigation.

On the day I fished, it was a choice of bird watching or fishing. I had heard of a firecrest in a local wood and that tempted me, but I couldn’t get the big perch out of my mind! So off to the canal it was, and certainly the weather was a factor. A mild day, with temperatures above the recent average, and the sun was even threatening to come out at times. Plus a nice breeze to put a ripple on the surface. The firecrest can wait!

Pulling into the car-parking slot at the side of the road, I again had the stretch to myself. It is amazing how few anglers fish the canals (or rivers for that matter) these days, particularly when the quality of fish is higher than ever before. In some ways it does concern me, as clubs need the revenue to continue their involvement. On the other hand, it is nice to be able to walk for miles and not see another soul. In fact the section of canal in question is not leased by any club and is free fishing.

Tying on my favoured Mepps Aglia spinner, I began to cast as soon as I entered the towpath from the road. Features such as bridges are excellent holding areas for perch, and I’ve already caught a number of fish casting right up to the bridge supports as they enter the water. But on this occasion, I drew a blank and made my way along the canal. Unless there is a specific feature in the swim, such as a far bank bush, I tend to walk about ten yards and from there make a number of casts ensuring that the whole water in front of me is covered.

There was a little colour in the water, indicating that a boat had passed through earlier in the day. Actually the conditions overall were excellent; nevertheless it was more than an hour before I caught my first fish, a small perch. Although I do prefer to catch bigger fish, I always appreciate everything that comes my way, and I admired the colour and markings of the perch before I slipped it back into the water. They really are beautiful fish, the green and black stripes and the blood red fins – when God created the perch it was certainly a masterpiece in the making.

Once the first fish had been caught, there was a steady trickle of others. Most of them were small ones, but I did hook something good right at the end of the section as I prepared to turn round. It was deep and steady, and the pull of the fish made me think that I had connected with another big perch. With no pike in the stretch (to my knowledge) and only a token number of chub, the odds were firmly on another ‘stripey’. Well, even the bookies get it wrong sometimes, and as the fish broke the surface, it was a chub that slipped into the landing net, not a perch.

By now I had one eye on the time as I was collecting my wife from her parents’ in the afternoon, but knowing that she is the easy going type, I didn’t consider it taking a liberty to fish on a little longer than I had originally intended. In fact when I arrived an hour and a half late, she just smiled and made reference to the ‘one more cast’ syndrome. What a woman eh!

Well, I was glad that I did continue fishing because it meant that I caught the best fish of the session right at the end. It’s a great thrill to feel a pluck on the spinner as it retrieves, but an even greater feeling when the resultant fish turns out to be a good one. It was a few ounces lighter than the biggie from last week, but still a great end to the session.

(Originally published December 2005)

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