Wet, Mild, Cold (perch article and video, entry 285)

Wet, Mild, Cold

Last year’s Angling Journal got off to a slow start, or to be more precise it was my fishing that lacked the action. In fact the first two week’s photographs featured Twinkle my Bedlington Terrier and a sunset, such was the difficult start that I had. So this time round I was determined to put that right. Yes, I know that ultimately it’s down to the fish and whether they want to play ball or not, but as far as I was concerned, with preparation and confidence being my twin towers of strength, I was ready to hit the New Year full of enthusiasm and passion. This article features three sessions and in case you are wondering about the title, each one sums up the weather on that particular trip.

Wet on the River Dove

If you have been a regular reader of my Angling Journal you will know that the Dove has had a certain pull on my time lately. And whilst that is true for many anglers, mostly that attraction would feature barbel. But for me I have been drawn in by the lure of grayling and perch, with the former my rock-bottom cold weather option. On the first session of the week though, with the weather quite mild, it wasn’t the lady of the stream that I was fishing for, but perch. I had previously walked some distance along the stretch in question and made mental notes regarding swims that looked very ‘perchy’. And it was in one of these that I placed my gear in and began to set up.

The first thing that was out the quiver though wasn’t a rod but the umbrella. It was raining when I arrived at 8.00am and it was still coming down at 4.30pm when I finished. It wasn’t heavy rain but what I would call persistent drizzle. And enough to end up in a quagmire by the time I packed away. Apart from my tackle and clothes being covered in mud, so was my face. When I arrived home my family thought it was funny, they said that I looked like an undercover secret agent returning from behind enemy lines. That wasn’t the first time that I have returned covered in mud and it’s pretty much a safe bet to say that it won’t be the last either.


No perch but I didn’t blank


Mild on the canal

The swim was one that definitely builds your confidence as far as perch are concerned. On a bend, the water flows back on itself into deeper water. With dense overhanging willows and lots of tree roots around, it screams perch. However, for as much as my faith level was overflowing, I failed to do any business whatsoever with the species. I did catch a couple of decent grayling though, so I didn’t blank. My tactics comprised a cage feeder and brown crumb with dead maggots fished to a single red maggot on the hook.

With the weather continuing mild, I decided to stick with perch but move to the local canal for the second session of the week. I headed for a peg that I haven’t fished for ages; in fact about 10 or so years ago it was probably my favourite swim and held that accolade for quite some time. The reason though that I returned was first and foremost because I caught some decent perch from there before. And assuming they were still around – which is something that you cannot take for granted of course – my thinking was that if I caught good perch when I wasn’t particularly targeting them, what could I do when I had them in my sights.


Catching rudd in the depths of winter






Tip of the week

Fish with confidence.

Although in itself it won’t put fish on the bank I don’t think we appreciate fully just how importance confidence is in angling.

If you go out with a half-hearted, ‘don’t know why I bothered’ attitude, you have already lost the battle.

I was fishing two rods, the first being a small waggler, presenting a single red maggot on the bottom. I was intending to catch some gudgeon for the second rod, which was a livebait set-up, but also to fish it directly for perch. The mild conditions meant that I was catching gudgeon from the off and so the small 5g bob float was in the swim within minutes of settling down for the session. It was about an hour later that I had my first run, a perch that didn’t hook. However, within seconds as I re-cast, I caught my first perch of the session, a small 4oz fish.

Five minutes later though I was striking into a much better quality fish. The sort of perch that you don’t want to lose, and as I was using just a single hook, you never know whether it has taken hold until you either lose the fish or net it. And as it edged towards the submerged landing net I really didn’t want it to be the former. But thankfully it wasn’t and so I very gratefully lifted the fish onto terra firma and posed for a photograph before releasing it back into the canal. The livebait gudgeon also tempted a very small pike that was lost at the net but it was the float fished maggot that was definitely the busiest as numerous gudgeon plus small roach and perch provided action. I also caught three small rudd, proving just how mild the day was.



A nice canal perch poses for the camera

Cold on the canal

There is a well known song that includes the line, ‘What a difference a day makes’. And how true that was, or at least two days, as when I returned to the same spot forty-eight hours later, the weather had taken a serious turn for the worst. Sharp easterlies were blowing across the country and sitting on the west towpath of a canal that runs north to south, even the most geographically challenged amongst us will work out that meant that I was taking the full force of the wind face on. The temperature was just into plus figures but the wind chill factor was seriously minus. But you never catch at home by a warm fire, so I was fully focused on the four hours that I has set myself.

Needless to say the action wasn’t exactly hectic but I did catch a number of gudgeon and also several small roach. I had three runs on the livebait rod as well, so that was quite good. I lost a small pike at the edge, landed another and had a hook pull on a third fish seconds after striking. The lost fish was either a very small pike or a very big perch, and the optimist in me likes to think that it was the latter. Not that I enjoy losing good fish but it spurs me on to return and next time get the better of them. Getting back to the car I was thankful for the heater and had it on full blast all the way home, trying to thaw myself out. But even the most severe of weather doesn’t deter me, and even before I reached the haven of the vehicle I was thinking through my options as I considered my next session. Passionate or disturbed? I will let you work out the answer to that.



Click on the icon for this week’s video clip


The week ahead

After catching a good perch from the canal, I will be returning next week to hopefully do more of the same. I like perch and enjoy catching them. They may not grow to the size of barbel, carp or even tench or bream, but they are just as special.

(Originally published January 2009)

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