Back on coarse with my favourite species (perch article, entry 386)

Following my excursion to the coast in last week’s Angling Journal article, this week it’s back on course with my favourite species. Or as the headline suggests, I play on the fact I was sea fishing one week and coarse the next. Just in case you think it’s a mistake! Anyway I decided to head for the lower Severn and search out some perch. I can remember the days when the lower reaches of the river hosted various matches, everything from big events to small club affairs. In fact way back when I was a kid I fished a few times myself when I was in Hurst Hill Labour AC / Bilston Labour AC. I actually won River Severn matches at Stourport and Ripple in 1980 (when I was a teenager) and as I still have my angling trophies I thought I’d take a couple of photographs and put them in the article.

 

 
If you read my Angling Journal on a regular basis then you will know that I have fished the lower Severn for perch before, last year in fact. The club anglers have in the main long gone and as far as specific-species fishermen are concerned you are more likely to encounter either a barbel or a zander man. That’s if you see anyone, as large areas are simply unfished. And as for a perch fisherman, we’re pretty thin on the ground to say the least. But as with a number of species, they don’t need bait going in to fatten them up, and indeed you could even say that they thrive on neglect. And on that basis then the Severn in general, and the lower in particular, certainly has lots of potential for some decent fish.
 

I would describe the river as wide and deep, but when it isn’t carrying any extra water it’s also sluggish and if you choose the right swim then you can float fish in such a way that it’s little more effort than your average stillwater; you certainly aren’t trotting and having to cast every minute or so. And because of the conditions and where I fished, that’s what I was doing on my opening session. I mixed a fairly heavy groundbait mix so that my red maggots (dead and live) were able to get to the bottom where I wanted them. Fishing a worm over the top I was feeling positive. In the event I hooked a really big fish (I was full of confidence after my recent visit to the ‘secret venue’) I wanted to land it and so fished 6lb Maxima straight through to a Drennan Super Specialist size 10 hook. I was taking no chances and indeed I have already lost the perch of a lifetime this year when it took me into a snag on 4lb line.

 

Pretty much from the off I was into fish, and whilst not the size I really wanted, nevertheless they were decent enough fish as you can see from the perch on the right. They certainly put a bend in the rod and needed the landing net to make sure they were safely in my possession. And because the perch is my favourite species, I get pleasure from catching them at any size, particularly when I am targeting them. But it’s the really big ones that I want to catch and as the day wore on I started to get bigger fish as you can see from the two photographs below. I ended up with three quality perch (ie they qualify for a pose with yours truly) and the final one came well into dusk. I also pulled out of a couple of decent fish; but there’s no use crying over spilt milk, so I didn’t. Right until the very end, I had a catch of all perch apart from one tiny roach that amazed me in the sense that it managed to get the hook in its mouth, never mind the worm. It was a good take as well, none of the usual finesse associated with the species.

 

 
But as I fished on until I could see the float no longer my last two fish were ruffe. I really like them, even though they are small I enjoy catching them, probably because they aren’t that widespread. But they are fairly common on the lower Severn so it didn’t come as anything but a pleasant mild surprise when I pulled them in. I did feel sorry for them though. There were lots of jack pike swirls throughout the day and then the big perch they have to watch out for. Then as soon as they clock off, the zander come alive and start their food hunt. Poor ruffe, it’s a wonder they manage to survive, never mind thrive, with all those predators around.

 

Sensing I was on a roll with the lower Severn perch, no guesses where I ended up on my second and final session of the week. The only vehicle on the car park, I was able to choose the swim I wanted, which leads me to a funny story. I hadn’t been fishing very long when another angler came towards me. He stopped behind me for a while and then informed me ‘I was going to fish here’. Not one to be intimidated I’m thinking to myself ‘Yes. And your point is’. I didn’t say anything of course, but when he asked me where he could fish I felt like saying ‘You know those gaps between the trees with the steps cut into the bank that lead down to the water? Well, they’re called swims. And that’s what you’ll be doing if you act like this with the wrong person’. Aren’t people funny? Why walk up to another angler just to tell him you were going to fish there!

 

I again found myself amongst the perch, netting about twenty in total including a few decent ones, the best you can see in the first photograph right. I also caught a bream, well it is the lower Severn after all and sooner or later every angler connects with one of those. But the biggest surprise came right at the end of the session when I landed not only one, but two tench. Following the floods in recent years lots of carp made their way into the river and I even caught rudd as well as a result of the pools emptying their contents into the river. So it’s only natural that a few tench made their way there also. Until I saw the second fish I thought I was into a monster perch as it fought so well. And a late one in the year, but the conditions were quite mild.

 
 

The mild weather was a result of the wind direction being from the SW. And it was more than just breezy at times, as branches started to creak under the pressure. Once or twice a crack signalled bits of trees falling into the river. I was still on the float and fishing quite close in which was just as well, any further than a rod length out and it would have been impossible to see the float. It brought back memories of the time I was about 12 or 13 and had played football on the Saturday morning for my school team and immediately afterwards I went fishing on the small pond which was my first love as a kid. And what a day it was, the wind was so strong it was like fishing a choppy sea. Watching the float was a case of ‘You see it, now you don’t, you see it, now you don’t’ as it appeared and disappeared with the wave movement. And then suddenly it didn’t show and I struck, landing a 3oz perch. It was a small fish and it was years ago (1974-75) but I learnt a lesson that is still with me today: never let the conditions put you off.

(Originally published November 27 2010

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