My new year suddenly comes to life (perch article, entry 393)

If there’s one thing I like, as an angler who fishes throughout the year, it’s a window of opportunity. Of course I appreciate them at any time, but they especially come into their own in the winter months when the going gets really tough, and anything that gives you the edge weather-wise is greatly welcomed. It may be warm SW rain that brings the barbel on the feed in a flooded river or it may be a more general mild spell. And it was the latter that we have had this week that saw me dust off (literally) my perch gear for its first outing in what seemed like an eternity. And with two months of harsh winter behind us where I have still battled on, but struggled, it was with real excitement that I went to bed knowing that the alarm clock was set for an early start that would see me on the lower Severn at first light.

And talking of the Severn it is usually referred to in segments of upper, middle and lower. Maybe you have wondered where each begins and ends? Well the truth is there is no legal definition and so it is down to the individual to determine his own boundary. Personally I view the upper as from source to either the Vyrnwy confluence or the Welsh border (both close to each other) then the middle from there down to Stourport. That’s the start of the navigable section so from then on it’s lower. I used to start the middle from Shrewsbury, so I have changed on that, and some anglers take the lower from Worcester downstream. It’s all very individual really, but anyway I was on the lower which is just to give you a general idea of my location without letting too much information out of the bag.

 

Location is the key, and certainly at this time of the year, find where the fish are and you are in with a chance of a good session. Even though the lower Severn may look daunting there are still features both underwater and above. Overhanging trees, slight bays, brook mouths, man-made structures, mooring sections and so on are all places to identify as fish-holding areas. Regarding swim or even area location I have good reason to be vague. Fishing mostly midweek I very rarely see other anglers, yet in the last few weeks I have been recognised six times at the water’s edge, and all because of my Angling Journal. With thousands of readers every month imagine if every time I catch something special I name the peg. I may refer to stretches generally, for example when promoting Kinver Freeliners AC, as they are sponsors. But the gist of my writing isn’t to provide spoon-fed information to fellow anglers. I want to inspire of course, but that can be done without telling people the exact location. And after this week’s article, I may want to go back myself and find a peg…

 
 

With the conditions being right I was able to fish with a waggler. The lower Severn can vary in depth between a few feet to over twenty. In this case it was closer to the former than the latter hence it was the float gear that I used. I fished 6lb line straight through to a size 8 hook that was baited with worm and fished over live and dead red maggots with brown crumb as the carrier to take them down. The water temperature was 5.8C, which compared to recent sessions was quite tropical, so it was with great confidence I cast out and waited as the float sat nicely in the slack water of the area I was fishing. I didn’t have long to wait for my first bite and as the waggler sailed away I struck and my first perch of 2011 (pictured above) was on the bank. This was followed almost immediately by a much bigger fish and I tweeted the photograph of that, which if you follow my twitter/facebook accounts you may well have seen already. The links are at the base of this page, and I do post from the water’s edge – when it doesn’t interfere with the actual fishing of course.

 

 

I didn’t have time to do much tweeting this time though as it was action all the way. From dawn to dusk I had a constant stream of bites. With the fish obviously being present in numbers, and my trickle of feed keeping them keen, the lulls in action were few and far between. And I even caught a small pike, which probably explained why the fish were absent on the odd occasion. I also caught a ruffe but that’s not a surprise as the lower Severn is a stronghold for the species. But apart from those two fish, every other one I caught was a perch. As an angler who always targets a specific species, it’s great when it all comes together. And after two months of hard-going I was certainly enjoying catching so many fish

 
 
In fact not only did I lose count of the numbers caught, I also had so many fish over 1lb that I estimated in excess of twenty. Not that I was necessarily counting them in the first place but when you only have one or two you know that. But when they keep coming and coming and coming you realise that you are on for a special day. Lifting the net from the water at the end of the session it was quite a struggle. Having played football (I am centre half for our church football team – Tipton Family Church FC) just a couple of days before, the exertion of hauling the net reminded me of the muscle pulls I carried in my groin and back. I’m not complaining though, far from it; following the tough time I’ve had lately on the piscatorial front I will gladly risk injury while lifting large nets of fish from the water.

 

What a fantastic session it was, and even being stuck in heavy traffic on the way back home didn’t take away from the excitement of a great day out at the water’s edge. If I’m honest all sessions are enjoyable, even when I struggle, but of course when it comes together that’s what it’s all about. And that’s why I make no apologies for the fact that all of the photographs in this article are of fish. Not only is the perch my favourite species anyway, but I have been so devoid of decent fish of late that to catch so many quality ones in a single sitting was very satisfying. So therefore I am being shameless in my self-indulgence. I am hoping that this catch will be the kick-start to my year and from now on it will be upwards and onwards. I’m certainly full of confidence and that’s a good thing. Although self-belief in and of itself won’t put fish on the bank, it’s obviously better to be in that frame of mind rather than the ‘I don’t know why I bother going because I will never catch anyway’ one. (Article published January 26 2011)

 

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