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One of the benefits of being a solo angler is that I can fish for what I want and where I like without having to consider the needs of an angling partner. Of course, that may not be everyone’s ideal situation; in fact there are fishermen out there that wouldn’t go if their buddy dropped out. And that’s fine, my comments aren’t aimed at anyone in particular or even in general. I’m simply stating my own preferred position. I don’t mind outings with other anglers, in fact if you follow my Angling Journal over a period of time, then you will be aware that from time to time the occasional shared session crops up. But in the main I enjoy the freedom and liberty that comes with being my own boss.
So, when I fancied an afternoon crack at some perch on a local stillwater, all I needed to do was get my gear in the car and drive there. No deciding who fishes where, no arguing over who gets the best swim, no awkward moments when one wants to fish peg 1 and the other peg 100 or one has had enough but the other wants to stay an extra hour. In fact, nothing at all to occupy my mind other than focusing on the session ahead. It was a lovely autumn day when I set up although as you will see from the video, that soon changed. But then, by the time I packed away it had all gone nice again. The British weather eh!
I was fishing about 2 rod lengths out; in this instance the rod in question was a 12′ Fox Duo-Lite Specialist. I bought a couple of these specifically for my perch fishing and they have been brilliant. In this instance I was fishing the quiver top option, with a 1oz glass insert tip. Line was my faithful and trusty 4lb Maxima and hook was a size 10 with four red maggots as the bait. The cage feeder was a small 20g one and this was stopped about four inches from the bait by a size 6 shot and a 5mm bead. A simple set-up but one that works for me. It’s pretty much my standard perch rig when doing this kind of fishing.
Into the cage feeder went a mix of brown crumb and predator mix to a ratio of about 6:1. To this I added to the lake water a dash of predator groundbait mixer. All are SBS Baits products and I must say that after using various crumb mixes over the years I have been really impressed with that on offer from SBS. It’s definitely top quality and I’m not just saying that because I’m involved with the company. I’m using it and that’s always a good test of how good something is. I added the predator ingredients because as I often write, perch are as much a predator as the more traditional species such as pike and zander.
As I was there for just three hours up to dark, as well as the mix that went out in the cage, I also put a few balls of bait out early on. As it was a short session I wanted to give the swim a kick start. It didn’t take long for the tip to start moving, but it wasn’t the confident pull of a perch but wary roach that provided the action. The action though didn’t materialise as far as actually having a proper bite and connecting with a fish. Until the perch moved in that is. I didn’t catch many, but it was a case of quality over quantity, which suits me fine. The fish that I showed on the video was indeed the smallest one of the session and the others were in the mould of the ones in the first two photos at the top of this page.
But to bring balance to my opening statement about fishing alone, the second session this week was with Lawrence Breakspear. He had a week off and texted me to see if I fancied a day out. We tossed around a few venues and settled on a new one for both of us. In fact, in a conversation with Des Taylor a few weeks back he had recommended the pool to me. People know I like my perch fishing and I’m often fed information on where to head for and what’s coming out. So when Lawrence mentioned the place I said yes, let’s go.
We set up in adjacent pegs, separated by a common alder tree, and that’s the view from my swim in photo 3, with the tree to my right. The first thing I did was plumb the depth and finding a good 10 feet of water under the rod tip and beyond I settled on a waggler a rod length out. My groundbait mix was as session one with live maggots added and the business end was a single worm on a size 10 hook, although this was replaced at times with a bunch of maggots. It was a slow start for both of us before the fish started to show. Whilst I got amongst the perch – albeit small ones – Lol had a trickle of small carp taking an interest in his bait.
Neither of us managed any big perch, with the largest ones we caught just ounces. After Lawrence went though the fishing did move to another level but with slightly bigger carp on the menu and a roach about half a pound finding their way to the bank. That’s one of the fish in photo 5, although my biggest carp was on my last cast and by the time I had netted it after a decent fight i just had enough light to pack away without needing a headtorch. There was one carp though during the dusk period that until I saw it I was convinced I’d hooked a really big perch. It didn’t fight like a carp and was very perch-like, so much so that I was quite excited and was really looking forward to seeing the green and black stripes appear in the upper level of the murky water.
However when I did get my first sight of the fish, instead of a spiky dorsal and red fins, I found myself looking at a flank of small scales as a mirror carp about 5lb stared back at me. Never mind eh. So no big perch found their way to the bank, but that’s fishing for you – and most definitely the branch that we call specimen. And that’s why, whether red-letter days, blanks or somewhere else in between, I share them all. I do catch some decent fish along the way, but the journey also consists of times when it’s hard going. Because I don’t have an image to live up to and I’m not trying to impress anyone with my angling exploits I can just tell it how it is.
Photo 4 above is of a green shield bug that I noticed crawling on me. My passion for British wildlife extends right across the full range – pretty much anything that lives, breathes or grows. The green shield bug is pretty common and is often seen at this time of the year. Bird-wise I saw a group of about 20 swallows in migratory flight, heading off to Africa where they will stay until next spring. They were being pursued by a bird of prey that at first sight I thought may have been a hobby, but it was a kestrel. I also ticked (birding terminology) a pair of ravens during the day as they made their way overhead, and as is often the case with these birds, I heard them first.
Top sighting though was not a bird or a bug but a bat. During dusk, as I played the last carp actually, I spotted a serotine bat out and about. I usually see common pipistrelles or Daubenton’s so any other species is always a thrill. I love the flight pattern of the serotine and it didn’t disappoint as it put on an aerial display. I was hopeful of a barn owl as I drove down the country lanes heading back to the A road, but that wasn’t to be. Can’t be too greedy though can I. Being an angler and a naturalist I find I can combine the two perfectly; certainly the sort of fishing I do often allows me take in the bigger picture.
If you are reading this on Word Press then, if you like it, why not use the share button and post it on twitter or facebook? I’ve been posting my articles and videos on there since September. I’m still putting them on my Angling Journal website as well of course, that remains the mother ship, I’m just using Word Press as another avenue to spread the word. My Angling Journal is like anything else – if people like it they will read it regularly and if they don’t they won’t. You can’t please everyone; in fact in that sense I don’t aim to please anyone.
I just write articles and record videos and if people like them then I’m really happy. But if they don’t then I won’t be having sleepless nights. It’s nice when people say good things about you but I don’t get devastated when they don’t. I’m not built up by man’s praise and therefore I’m not destroyed by his criticisms either. It’s one of the principles I live my life by. And of course I don’t mean any of that in any aggressive or confrontational way. It’s just life; it’s like a jungle out there sometimes. Not that I’m writing this is response to anything that has happened by the way. Just saying,
I keep out of conflict but when I do have an occasional read of an angling forum or a blog where people attack each other in a very vindictive way it reminds me why I don’t get involved. But of course there are some great folks out there, and whether in person or on the internet I’ve met many of them. And whilst I may be non-sociable (as opposed to anti-sociable – there’s a big difference) on the bank because I enjoy the freedom and liberty of fishing alone, certainly off it I enjoy networking. And on that, why not ‘like’ my facebook page, I’d love to connect with you on there. (October 8 2011)