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When you think of the lower Severn the species that immediately come to mind are barbel, pike and zander. And there’s no doubt from a specimen angler’s perspective, these get targeted more than everything else put together. But with a pioneer spirit bubbling away, that manifests itself with the desire to regularly try something new, I set off for an afternoon hoping to do business with perch. The stretch I headed for wasn’t new to me, having fished there before, but it was a step into the unknown as far as perch potential was concerned. But there’s only one way to test our thoughts on whether a particular venue holds a certain fish and that’s to get out there and give it a go.
With lots of pegs having willows that grow well over the river, I was spoilt for choice really. But I settled into a swim that I fancied and started to get set up. With deep water, even a couple of lengths out, I went for a cage feeder approach. Using 4lb Maxima line straight through, I created a hook length of about 4 inches by nipping a size 6 shot to the line with a 5mm bead over it. Hook was a size 14 Drennan Super Specialist and I fished two red maggots. Live red maggots were also in the mix that packed the cage feeder.
This consisted of five parts brown crumb to one part SBS predator mix. When we think of predators we usually refer to pike, zander, catfish or eels but of course perch are as much a predatory species as any of those. Mixing the two dry ingredients together well, I added water from the river. I don’t like mixing stuff the day before from the tap at home. If we say that additives make a difference, and we do use them in such a small and precise way ie 5ml or 10ml, then surely the chemicals from the water in the kitchen will also affect things.
Some anglers may collect rainwater and do it that way, but I’ve never found mixing at the water’s edge a problem. In with the River Severn went some liquid lobworm, another SBS product. It is very concentrated and is added on a ratio of 1:10, so a bottle will last a long time. It has become one of my foundations when perch fishing. Once ready I filled the cage, cast out and tightened the line so that any enquiries would immediately show on the quiver tip.
The first few casts were fairly frequent as I wanted to lay a carpet of bait out. It was very early on though, second or third cast, when the 1oz tip gently pulled round and I found myself banking a small perch. I was really happy. Although it was just a small fish I had connected with my target species, and I always love it when that happens. The rest of the session was more of the same, and although I had a single rudd, apart from that the trickle of fish was all-perch. None were big, in fact some of them were quite small. But nevertheless it was just great to see things come together.
As the sun set at the end of the day over the far bank, I captured the shot of the sheep that you can see in the first photograph. A pleasant day to an enjoyable session. On the nature front I encountered numerous small tortoiseshell and small white butterflies and a single large white. The bright sunny weather had brought them out in abundance. And talking of butterflies, that’s a ringlet in the fifth photograph captured on the second and final session of the article. This was to a brand new venue for me and one that has only just come available for anglers to fish on a wider basis.
A huge reservoir, my tackle was pretty much the same as on the lower Severn. Although a stillwater, it is deep and so a cage feeder approach is the way that I went; in fact the only difference was that I switched to a bigger hook. A Super Specialist size 10 meant that I could fish a worm and also a number of maggots if I wanted to change bait without cutting the hook. It was a very early start for me with the alarm clock set for 3.00am. And when you consider I didn’t get to bed till after midnight it was a short spell on the pillow before I was up again. Not to mention the excitement of going fishing, all in all if I slept for two hours that was being generous.
But the adrenalin of angling soon had me bright and alert, and by the time I was walking the bank of the venue it was like the middle of the day for me, I was wide awake and raring to go. Many anglers are put off by vast waters but you just need to think it through and work out the underwater topography and you’ll be fine. With a drop-off and then steady fall beyond that, I opted to fish about four to five rod lengths out. Like the lower Severn it took a few casts to lay down bait before I had a take. As the 1oz glass tip gently pulled round I found myself bringing in a small bream.
But the next bite had my heartbeat up a notch as it was a perch I landed. Not a big one, but they don’t have to be monsters to get me going. Like the session on the lower Severn it was just great to be on some virgin water and catch my target species. Seeing that fish break surface and head towards the landing net was a sight to behold. I’m 49 years of age and it was just great to see that Santa hadn’t let me down, as the kid on Christmas Eve experience the night before was turning into a good day as perch after perch followed. I also caught a few bream as well, but predominantly my rod was bent by perch.
It was pretty hectic early one with the fish coming thick and fast. This slowed down a little as the morning wore on but I was still getting fish with the bream falling away and perch taking over. Photographs 2-4 give an idea of the fish that I caught, no monsters as such but lots and lots of fish that put up a fight and needed the landing net. I really enjoyed the visit to the reservoir and without any doubt whatsoever I will be back. Although I do fish for other species, perch are definitely my favourite and I want to explore the potential from this particular venue. Although I’ve caught some double-figure barbel recently on the lower Severn, I get more excited at netting a 2lb perch. I guess that’s why they are my favourite fish. It’s like love, you can’t always explain it, why you love one person as opposed to why you don’t love another. It’s not easy to put in words, but you know what you feel and that’s me with perch. I just love them, simple as.
On the subject of the venue itself, as is my general approach I won’t be naming it, although anglers that do fish it and read my Angling Journal will of course know where I am. I fish a variety of waters that have publicity bans so that decision is often taken out of my hands anyway. Occasionally I do mention a venue very specifically and that is always done with the consent of the club or owners concerned. But beyond that I try to take into account the anglers that fish there and will continue to do so maybe after I have moved on. I once fished for perch on a venue that sponsored my Angling Journal at the time, and so, being a day ticket water that wanted the publicity, I named it and gave details. I forget the exact number now, but Craig the bailiff told me that within days 16 (If I remember correctly) people booked in as a direct result of reading the article. At £25 a time that’s good business for the fishery.
But the other side of the coin is that, on venues that aren’t directly pushing for a mention for specific reasons, you have to try and consider the effects of regulars being pushed out by a sudden influx of anglers lured by some big fish I have caught. Then even if the place isn’t open to the general public, there are always people who will go and poach it and when they are caught will just say that they didn’t realise it was run by a club or whatever with no day tickets. No club wants to have that hassle on a regular basis. And finally of course, there’s self-preservation. Courtesy of my Angling Journal being local I am recognised weekly, sometimes several times, by people who tell me they follow my exploits on the internet.
The whole purpose of my Angling Journal is to inspire. It’s not about putting people in pegs, but to create a passion so that other anglers will then think and translate what I write into their own fishing. If you’re a lower Severn barbel angler, for example, it should be enough to know that I caught some good fish of late and let that be motivation as opposed to wanting to know which stretch was I on and indeed which peg did I fish. As Lawrence Breakspear once said to me when paying me a compliment about my Angling Journal, ‘It’s about inspiration not imitation’.
And finally, my guest for the week is Steve Collett who is talking about his National win. You can of course see that on the accompanying video. But how about being one of my guests yourself? Well I’ve just put a competition on my facebook page and so if you’d like to feature on a forthcoming video you can check out the details here.