Thirteen is unlucky for some – but not for me (perch article, entry 127)

With a couple or so hours to spare in the afternoon, I decided to head off for the local canal to continue my perch campaign. That’s the great thing about spinning, you can literally arrive at the venue and be fishing within minutes. Put on a lure, cast out and the second that it plops into the water you are off. Actually I am enjoying the flexibility of it at the moment, particularly as I’m finding it difficult to do a prolonged session.

Arriving at the canal, I decided to fish what has become a well-worn route, starting at the road bridge then working my way to the lock, before turning round and heading back. It might be a familiar path but you still have to watch where you step, as it is a well used dog-walking area and the place is just littered with mess. I don’t blame the dogs though, but the owners. In fact watching them just walk on by after their animals have deposited themselves all over the path makes me angry. That and angler’s litter, the venue is not that attractive. But it is the fish I’m after, I keep telling myself.

With a slight rise in temperature, I fancied my chances. But as is often the case as far as angling is concerned, things don’t always work out the way you thought they would. I didn’t blank though, as I managed to catch a small perch, which was taken off a now dying reed bed. There are still leaves on some trees, and a lot of vegetation is still green enough, but over the next month or so, we will see winter at its harshest.

But then again, just as winter really starts to bite around February, we see the lambs in the fields and the rooks nesting in the trees. So if you are a fisherman who prefers warmer times and are struggling at the moment – hang on in there, spring is not that far away! On the other hand if you are like me, and actually enjoy fishing all year round, then carry on and make the most of it! There are plenty of positives to draw on, such as fewer anglers out there, minimal disturbance from boats and so on.

To complete the week, the weather was quite mild. So much so in fact, that setting up by the car, I really did fancy my chances this time. Well, you do have to be the optimistic type don’t you? My angling glass is definitely half-full and not half-empty. A nice breeze was the icing on my confidence cake, and as I walked the short distance to the canal, I felt good about the session. It was a different stretch of water to the first one fished earlier in the week, but one that I have been on before.

I decided to fish a Mepps Aglia number one spinner with a gold spoon. I have already commented in previous articles that the Aglia is the one that I feel confident with. And as far as angling is concerned, confidence does play a massive part. But with the first hour gone, all I had to show for the session was one small perch. Then, working my way slowly along the bank, I connected with a fish that was obviously a good one. As it turned in the clear water of the canal I could see that I had hooked a very nice perch.

As it slowly edged towards the landing net I was hoping desperately that it wouldn’t be lost, as I really wanted to land this fish. And can you believe it, just as I lifted the net into it, that the spinner came free. What a difference a second makes, I could have been totally frustrated. Instead I was posing at the edge of the water with a cracking perch. As the fish rested in the net in the water another angler came past. He was really impressed, so much so that there will be no guessing which peg he will be fishing from now on!

I was over the moon, and didn’t really mind if I caught nothing else for the rest of the afternoon. As it happened, I did catch a few more fish though, all perch apart from a feisty chub that tore off as if it were five times its actual size. Some of these small fish fight better than their big brothers, and that is true of most species. Although nothing beats the solid weight of a really big fish at the end of the line. And I guess it’s that thrill that drives us on as specimen anglers, always seeking out the larger ones in any given venue.

Right at the end though, as I had turned round and was heading back towards the car, I hit another good perch on the retrieve. Again, with the canal being gin clear, I saw the fish as it battled in the water. It was certainly on a par with the previous one, maybe a little smaller, perhaps a little larger. But I will never know for sure, because as I played the fish, the spinner came loose. Was I disappointed? Yes, of course I was. But I was glad that I had caught the earlier perch though, as that helped to soften the blow.

I was also aware that this session had been the 13th one of the present perch campaign. So who says that the number thirteen is unlucky? Well, not me, although it could be argued that the lost fish might have something to say about that. But with one good fish in the net, I was happy to declare that it definitely wasn’t an unlucky session for me. And no guesses which stretch of canal I will be fishing a lot over the next few months!

(Originally published December 2005)

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