The one that got away (perch article, entry 378)

Following my recent perch exploits on ‘the carp venue’ there was only one thing on my mind this week. Fishing somewhere for the first time and catching any decent fish is going to have a certain magnetic pull on the angler, but when it’s perch and me there is no contest. In all honesty I couldn’t wait to get back and fish for my favourite species. What makes a particular fish rise to the top of the pile like that? Size? Well there are plenty bigger species around. Fight? Doesn’t stand out as Tyson or a Bruno pound-for-pound. Looks? Have you seen a rudd or a crucian carp? So what is it then that causes the perch to have a special place in my heart? I don’t know, it’s just the way I feel and I can’t really explain any more than that! 
 Arriving at the lake mid-afternoon, there was just one angler on there and he was leaving. And in line with everyone else I have encountered so far, he was after carp. It meant that I was able to set up in the swim that I wanted, which is always a bonus. Fishing mid-week means that I do have the edge on many anglers in that respect, although I always have a plan b and c ready just in case my elected spot has been taken. But with the carpers appearing to cluster around one particular section, it does seem that I will be able to pick and choose. I do wonder sometimes though if hot-spots are such because people follow others or if they are genuine swims that produce above average? I suspect the answer to that is both, and often at the same time with the former creating the latter!


With the water being reasonably deep I fished a small Drennan cage feeder packed with brown crumb, dead and live maggots. Line was 4lb Maxima and a short hook length of the same created by a small shot and a 5mm bead. Hook was a Drennan Super Specialist size 16 and bait was double red maggot. Fishing late afternoon I didn’t get amongst the fish until well into dusk. Then the perch moved in. Well either that or they are there all along and don’t feed. That’s for me to work out as a pattern is already developing of very late feeding in this swim. But one thing is for sure, when they do decide that they want food then it’s all systems go. And although there is the odd smaller perch that can be lifted directly from the water, the majority are all decent fish that definitely need the net, as you can see from the fish pictured above caught on the first session.

I fished right up to the time that I couldn’t see any longer and still the bites were coming. I had a number of quality perch and it made me wonder whether I had encountered a venue where they may actually feed well into dark? We usually associate perch with dawn and dusk but I’ve had them throughout the night, including 3.00am fish on the local canal while eel fishing this summer. One thing that we often fail to do as anglers is to think outside the box. We so often get hemmed in by popular opinion and as a result we miss out and fail to reach our true potential. Although I didn’t fit an isotope and fish on for the next evening session due to other reasons, I most definitely will the next time I am back for an up-to-dark visit to the venue.

My second trip was an all-day affair. However the only fish that I encountered prior to evening was a rainbow trout, a throwback to the days when trout were stocked. I knew it wasn’t a perch the moment it steamed off just below the surface. And what happened to the fish after I netted it and photographed it? Well it needs to be thankful it was caught by me as I released it back to fight another day. It was a quiet day on the bites front, and the wildlife wasn’t that exciting either with just a hunting juvenile common tern on the lake the bird of any note. But then at dusk, the action started again and the perch came on the feed. I had a few decent fish, pictured below with the trout. But one strike saw me connect with something very special indeed. From the moment it moved I knew that I had hooked a very big perch.

I had to give it line but unfortunately it took me into a snag. I suspect it was a branch as I felt movement and bubbles rose to the surface as I gently tugged. But the pulling eventually saw me bringing in a rig minus hook. A break had occurred. It’s not very often I feel gutted when losing a fish, I’m usually so positive I say I’ll just return and catch it again. In fact the last time I felt like this was when I lifted into something enormous on a carp lake in France that held fish to 70lb. But after my initial disappointment I was back to the ‘I’ll get you next time’ way of thinking!


No guesses really where I intend to fish as much as possible over the next weeks as we move on into autumn. The one that got away is so often used by anglers that it is almost repeated without thought. But in this case it really was ‘THE’ one that got away and if I say we are talking about the fish of a lifetime, that is no exaggeration. I don’t feel an obsession coming on, far from it, but the prospect of tackling an unknown water where you lose a monster perch after just a few visits most definitely has to be worth a serious consideration. I will certainly be back, that is without question. So as they say, watch this space!

Check out the trailer video for this article. It’s 2010 number 45

(Originally published October 2010)


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