My own personal autumnwatch (perch article, entry 387)

The first session in this article saw me back at Dudmaston pursuing what are proving to be rather elusive perch. Following my recent successes on other venues, you would think I’d be homing in on more productive swims, but I am always up for a challenge. And with a few spots to try elsewhere I don’t want to get sidetracked by monster perch! Well actually I want to just find big ones elsewhere, that’s what it’s all about really. That’s Dudmaston (left) looking very barren at the back end of the year. There was one particular swim that I wanted to fish and it had an all-or-nothing feel to it. In other words it could be harbouring a real big perch or it could be devoid of fish. I won’t keep you in suspense: it was the latter. Or at least they were keeping a low profile anyway. Disappointed? No way! How do you know what’s out there unless you give it a go? I had carefully thought through this swim and wanted to give it my best shot. Even though I didn’t catch I will talk you through the approach.

 

I was fishing in six feet of water but due to the geography of the swim (it was tight) I opted for a quiver tip rod rather than a float set up as it enabled me to fish more effectively. With 4lb line going straight through to a size 10 hook and a single worm, a cage feeder putting out brown crumb and live red maggots, the approach was simple enough. I fished from 11.00am until dark and I didn’t get a single tap. I appreciate not everyone has the time or the inclination to try out new spots like this, but if you are able, then an adventurous approach, when it pays off, will hit the target big-time. In angling we not only have to think outside the box but also fish outside of it as well! For my second session of the week though I was back on familiar ground, albeit recently acquired territory. It was time to visit the ‘secret spot’ once more!

 

When the alarm went off, I didn’t need to look through the window into the darkness outside to know what was happening, as I had already seen the weather forecast. And on this occasion it was spot on. If I could describe the day in short words of no more than two syllables I would use ‘wet, windy and cold’. And add ‘muddy’ to the bankside experience and you’ve got the picture. But when the going gets tough, the tough go fishing! I’ve posted that on my twitter/facebook a few times I can tell you. Fishing a small waggler I allowed more of the float to protrude from the water than normally, so that I could combat the white-tipped waves. I’ve had far calmer conditions on the sea. My line was 6lb straight through to a size 10 Drennan Super Specialist hook and single worm was fished over a bed of live and dead red maggots, held together with crumb and mixed together with venue water and worm additive. I was fishing into first light and after a quiet spell to begin with, the perch started to come.

 

They were small ones to start with, the sort of fish that you can swing to hand without the need for the landing net. Then, as so often happens, the size of the perch increased as the session wore on. The extremely greedy little ones are in there like a shot as soon as they know food is on the agenda, these are then followed by the slightly more cautious bigger fish. And although they were still good perch to catch, I really wanted a special fish to net. I had to wait until early afternoon until the one pictured above took the float under. I love perch but I really love big ones. There’s something special about them. It’s not always easy to transfer your feelings into words when describing your favourite fish, but as any angler will appreciate, you know what you feel.

 

 

By the end of the day I must have had 50-60 fish, every single one of them a perch. I did have a couple of lightning roach plucks but none of them were translated into fish. Anyway, these were during lulls in the perch activity; as soon as the predators moved in, the roach moved out. I don’t automatically use a keepnet every time I go fishing, it all depends on the species and circumstances. But not wanting to return fish into the swim each time I caught them, I did use one this time. I decided to take a photograph of the fish in the net prior to setting them free again. That’s the shot on the left, wall to wall perch. Brilliant!

Driving home it took several miles of full-blast heater before my body returned to a comfortable state of existence. And following some food, a shower and a warm living room fire I was soon back in the land of the ‘normal’ people. You know, non-anglers!

 

My third and final session of the article and I’m back on the lower Severn. There was a little extra water on the river but it wasn’t creating any problems. Even the weather had improved and apart from the muddy banks and the cold, it was quite an easy trip compared to the previous one. I caught predominantly perch, but being the river, other species also picked up the worm presented on the bed. As you can see from the photograph on the right, the greedy little ruffe took a bunch of worms that I had put together hoping to get a really big perch. I ended up with three ruffe in total, but the surprise package of the session was a rudd. As I have written previously, the fish species on the lower Severn have been added to since the floods in recent years and I have now caught a number of rudd, although this is the first one during colder weather.

 

 

I did catch perch, the biggest being the one on the left. I usually hold them with their spines erect as this shows them off, in my opinion, at their best. But just for a change I decided to do this one ‘natural’. At the start of the session, as well as keeping an eye on my rod, I also watched and listened to two ravens in a bank side tree. Now that’s what I call multi-tasking! And my skills to watch two things at once were further enhanced later on as not only once but twice did I see a kingfisher take a small fish which it then took to a branch. It promptly smashed it a few times against the wood to stun it before swallowing it whole. As I tweeted at the time, my own personal Autumnwatch! If you’re on facebook, join me on there, the link is below. There is a competition during December with the prize some predator groundbait and mixer. It’s free to enter – nothing to lose!

(Article published December 4 2010)

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