Spreading my wings on the Dove (perch article and video, entry 374)

I love my perch fishing. If you are even just a casual follower of my Angling Journal you will immediately identify that as an understatement. However, while most of my perch pursuing is done on the Staffs/Worcs Canal I do occasionally venture further afield and tackle a river. In fact I intended to do that much more last season, but apart from a few sessions on the lower Severn, I got distracted by other things. So, planning a session on the River Dove I was very excited indeed as I looked forward to the day out.

A while back while grayling fishing on a particular stretch of the river I caught a decent perch. Many of us store information at the back of our mind hoping that one day it will be useful. If it were a roach, chub, barbel or whatever it may have had me returning one day. But as we are talking perch, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion really. I scheduled a date in my diary so that I could spend the whole day there. With the cost of fuel these days, it would be financial madness to visit a river on an eighty-mile round trip for just a couple of hours like I do on the local canal.






I set up in pretty much the same swim as I did last time when after the ladies. I use the words ‘pretty much’ because with no signs of any angling activity and open banks, you can fish where you like and make your own peg. The focus of my attention was a small clump of overhanging trees that jutted out well into the river. Any perch in the area must be around there somewhere I told myself. And that was part of the excitement really, not knowing what the section held. One swallow doesn’t make a summer and one perch last time isn’t indicative that it’s a stripey paradise.

My main rod was a cage feeder set-up with a size 18 / 16 hook. I alternated between single and double red maggot and worm. The feeder was filled with dead and live maggots and brown crumb. I also used liquid lobworm additive. As I say on the accompanying video, I’m a great fan of glugs, dips, flavours and additives. Even if they are simply a confidence boost then that has got to be beneficial, but I believe that the right products give far more than just a psychological edge to our angling. It was on this rod that I caught the one and only perch of the session.


Not surprisingly I was into minnows from the off. Then a couple of hours later when it went very quiet I just knew that a shoal, small group or even a solitary perch had entered the fray. So when my quiver tip went and I struck into something that obviously was not a minnow it was a brilliant feeling. And even more wonderful was when I netted the fish (pictured below). As I have already stated, it was to be the only one I caught. Difficult to draw too much of a conclusion but I would say that the section holds just a small head of perch, but they are a decent size. Right up my street actually, I’d sooner catch one good fish than have a netful of small ones. I also had a second rod out that I experimented with. There was method in the madness of catching minnows and they ended up as either a legered deadbait on a small free running bomb rig or a roving livebait suspended under a 5g bob float. I did have a tremble at one stage but nothing developed.


In spite of just one perch – and ‘millions’ of minnows – I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The sense of adventure exploring a virgin stretch where you have no idea what’s lurking beneath the surface of the water is definitely my style. The area itself is very rural and pleasant and I saw my first common sandpiper of the year, in flight along the river.

A family group of wary goosanders also showed from time to time and quite surprisingly a similar group of tufted ducks that I caught on film as well. Usually seen on a pool or lake, I was surprised to see them very much at home, feeding on the Dove. I also included a marsh thistle in the video that was growing on the river bank. I consider myself not just a passionate angler but also a very keen naturalist as well. And when you can combine the two, that’s even better.



On my return to the section it was different in the sense that I decided to take a more mobile approach. But it was still perch that I set my stall out for. And when I say mobile, I really mean that, as I covered a total of nine swims, flitting behind them during the day. However this time I didn’t catch any perch at all. Lost and lots of minnows, and as you can see from the photograph below, a signal crayfish. Some anglers may consider a whole day on a river without catching one of your target species a waste of time. But that’s the challenge of the sort of fishing that I do. There aren’t even any small fish about, as I would definitely have caught something moving around the section. It’s not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ as we say, but that the beauty of angling, it can be to each one of us whatever we want it to.



And after a day of no perch showing at all, right at the very end as I was packing away (and enjoying the great sunset!), minnows started clearing the water over my baited area. I was almost tempted to set up again! As it was it got me thinking. I had already decided to try pastures new (nothing to do with just one fish in two sessions), but when you see a big perch smashing into a shoal of minnows it does have a magnetic pull on you. So, as they say, watch this space! (Published September 4 2010)



Video number 41 on the list


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