When are you going to wrestle my perch? (perch article and video, entry 412)

Click images above to enlarge

I had a text from Steve Collett recently asking if I would like to fish his pool, and not only that, but the pool contained a perch in excess of 4lb. I didn’t need much coaxing and so we met up one morning and had a walk around the venue, tucked away deep in very quiet and very rural surroundings. What made it even more exciting was that there’s just the one perch in there, it isn’t at the top of a pyramid, but is the pyramid. I don’t know the history of the fish but it wasn’t the past I was interested in, rather the present. Steve had recently seen the fish rise to the surface and take an interest in a catkin that had fallen off an overhanging willow. So with that in mind, when I had a follow-up text asking when I was going to wrestle the perch, I got my fighting gear together and headed for that part of the pool (photograph 3).

Steve, as well as being the boss at Harris Sportsmail (you can check the link on my home page as they are one of the sponsors of my site) is the current National champion, having reached that pinnacle of club angling on the River Trent last autumn. He wasn’t around as I arrived at the pool, as he was elsewhere doing a feature for Angler’s Mail, although he did arrive later and we had a good chat. But having already been to the pool I knew exactly where I was going to fish and as it’s not a day ticket, but a privately-owned venue on a strictly invitation-only basis, I knew that I was going to have it to myself and could drop into the spot that I had chosen.

With an island in front of me adorned with overhanging willows, it wasn’t a surprise that’s where Herman Munster had been seen. So that’s where my one rod was, although that one rod metamorphosed and took on many forms – livebait rudd, deadbait gudgeon, legered worm and even a Mepps Aglia. However, the monster from the deep decided to play hard to get. As you can see from the photographs above, I didn’t catch it, because if I did it would be there centre-stage! The second rod, was a float fished worm alternating with a bunch of red maggots. With a small tree to the side of me that was growing well over the water, I fished the edge of that. The depth was five feet and this became a maximum of six and it was on the slope that I fished..

My groundbait mix was mostly brown crumb with some SBS predator mix to the ratio of about 5:1. Although we think of pike, zander and eels when the word predator is mentioned, perch are very much in that category, and with chub in the pool as well, they certainly tick the predatory box. In with the dry mix I added casters and live red maggots and when the water from the venue went into the bucket I put some liquid lobworm in to complete the recipe. Although it may not have enticed Herman into capture, it certainly did the trick with the other inhabitants of the pond.

One fish that I always enjoy catching is the crucian carp, and with Steve informing me that these are genuine fish, that makes it even more pleasurable. The pool had in the recent past been netted and stocked with crucians. You can see a brace of them in photograph 4, not big ones, but for me the beauty of a crucian is not its size but the fact that it is a crucian! The one in the second photograph is so small, you could probably get it in a large aquarium. But what a cracker. The saying, ‘The best things come in small packages’ could have been invented for crucian carp.

I also caught roach, rudd, common carp, tench, gudgeon and what looked like an orfe of some description. You can see that in the photograph of the keepnet fish, while on the accompanying video it gets a full on-screen view. I use the words ‘of some description’, as I don’t fish what we call commercial waters, and I know many of them contain all manner of fish that when I was a kid were the exclusive domain of garden ponds not legitimate angler’s targets.

But times have changed and as well as roach and perch fishermen are just as likely to catch goldfish and orfe. And with Steve’s pool being an ex-commercial then there is always the possibility of something out of the ordinary turning up. And that includes the tiny perch I caught! It just shows that you never really know, and that within reason anything can put in an appearance. In many ways it is this ‘sense of the unknown’ that spurs many of us on as anglers. As a young boy, my local was a tiny brickworks pond. Looking back I know there was nothing big in there, but as a kid I fished it passionately in the hope that the next dip of the float would see me on the front cover of the Angling Times!

Some of the roach I caught were of a decent enough size, as you can see in the first photograph. I had to play them and they needed the landing net, as opposed to the numerous tiny ones that I simply lifted from the water as I struck into the dip of the float. The usual shy, maggot-sucking bite of the roach in the main was absent. These fish were bold and confidently took the bunch of maggots on the size 8 hook with such positivity that many needed the disgorger. Usually it’s greedy little perch that fit into that category not roach. Maybe I hit the venue on a good day or perhaps the fact that they aren’t fished for on a regular basis took away the usual wariness that we associate with the species.

The invitation to the pool also included ‘take your dog’, which I did. I have a Bedlington Terrier called Twinkle, and she’s well-behaved so doesn’t cause any problems. In fact she happily pottered around with four Canada Goose fledglings nearby and didn’t give them so much as a second thought. I don’t normally take her fishing, the only times I have done so in the past is when I have been night-fishing in rat city, so for very practical reasons. I like dogs but I love Bedlingtons and Twinkle is more than just a pet really, she’s part of the family. And sometimes I think that growing up with two girls she doesn’t believe she’s a dog but a sister and a daughter!

I really enjoyed my time on the pool. I didn’t catch Herman, but as I tweeted on the night, I caught millions of his associates. My time on the venue was so busy I didn’t tweet once, whereas I normally post a few times at least on the micro-blogging site. But I usually catch one fish, two if I’m on a roll, and often nothing. It’s not very often I have a bite within seconds of casting out one after the other. I caught more fish in this one session than I will all year-long when pursuing specimen fish. Although having said that, I was still after a big one; just that I didn’t catch him. Fishing is like life – sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. And just like life, the best way to enjoy it is to take a philosophical approach and make the most of every situation. I certainly do, with both life and my angling. (Published June 20110


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