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It’s been ages since I have done any spinning for perch. In fact too long. Not that I’ve been neglecting my fishing of course, far from it. But with so many competing species and methods vying for my attention, it’s so easy to get behind on certain things. But as we approached 2012 my plans involved getting back on the perch spinning trail. With canals on my doorstep (well not literally but just minutes away) combined with the instant fishing (no pre-baiting or lengthy set-ups involved) plus of course the fact that perch are my favourite fish, i intend to do a lot more short sessions spinning.
My first outing to the Staffs/Worcs Canal was a first-light session (photo 1) and I had to scrape the ice from my car windshield, but the freezing conditions didn’t extend to the water, other than temperature of course. But as a great believer that if you’re waiting for the perfect conditions then you wont do much fishing, it wasn’t a problem. My motto as far as adverse weather or conditions are concerned, is ‘Just get on with it’. And get on with it I did.
I fished with a red fluorescent Mepps Aglia #3 (photo 2). I bought them some time back, and in reference to my comments earlier about not spinning for perch for a while, they were pretty much gathering dust in my spinning bag. I give some tips on spinning for perch in the accompanying video so there’s no need to repeat myself here. fished a section of the canal between two bridges and while making casts every few metres, I concentrated on areas that looked more likely to produce a fish.
The first sign of action was when I had a follow-through from a small perch. I dropped the lure in another couple of times and it chased it but wasn’t interested in making the final connection. It was only a short two-hour session and was pretty much towards the end when right at the edge, I saw a big perch appear from nowhere, dorsal fin erect and straight on to the spinner. I was really happy to net it and that’s it (photos 3,4) and to give you an idea of the size of the fish, the Mepps Aglia is 2.5 inches (about 7cm) and the fish was well padded out. A great start to my spinning campaign on the canal.
My next visit was at the opposite end of the day, fishing up to dark. It was just a short session, barely making an hour and a half. But when you consider football fans will travel hundreds of miles in a day to watch their team in action for just 90 minutes, a 10 minute trip down the local canal is hardly anything is it. Anyway, I did have a thud on the spinner as a perch attacked it during the retrieve, but I came to nothing so I clocked up a blank. Although we have been having the occasional overnight light frost (as per session 1) in the main it has been very mild and that was highlighted by a dandelion in full bloom (photo 5). Spring? In many ways it’s been more like summer of late!
My third outing was again a blank. However, what was really encouraging was that I had 2 perch follow my spinner right to the bank. They were both ready to take it with dorsal fins erect and ready to pounce, but sadly (for me) neither one made that final lunge. But with the fish going 1lb+ and 2lb+ respectively, although I blanked I was really positive because I had located what could be a super perch spot. So not only will I visit again when out spinning (see below) but I would like to spend some time there on a sit-down session (see future).
I have a number of really good swims on the Staffs/Worcs Canal and they’ve come about because I did some exploring. It’s the way to go. And with vegetation untouched, combined with a very long walk, I doubt whether this latest find is ever fished. In my youth if you wanted to fish the canal you checked the Express & Star to see what wasn’t taken, such was the demand for weekend match fishing. But since the rise of the commercial you can basically turn up anywhere. And perch, unlike some species, don’t need lots of bait going in to fatten them up. The shoals of roach and gudgeon do that. Thriving on neglect. Suits me.
So hardly surprising that my next visit saw me back on the new stretch for another short session up to dark. With the canal being quite clear, dawn and dusk is the way to go for perch at this time of the year. I had just the one fish (photo 6) and as I often write, it shows the fine line between ‘success’ and ‘failure’. Fortunately though, after my two blanks, I was on the right side of the line this time round. The fish took the spinner right at the edge.. In fact as I brought it to the point where I was going to lift it, out of nowhere appeared two perch. So instead of lifting the Aglia, I swept the rod to the right and that was all that was needed for the one fish to strike.
It was excellent to watch the fish take the bait, and I’m sure the fact that there was some competition helped me in my pursuit of my favourite fish. I didn’t weight it but it was in the 1lb category. In my view, a perch of that size from the Staffs/Worcs is a good fish and a 2lb a specimen. As always you need to judge fish by the venue as opposed to just the stand-alone weight. And as they’re my favourite species, all perch are beautiful anyway. And talking of beauty, that’s the sunset (photo 7) that I captured as I walked back to the car.
I ended the week’s fishing though with a small cluster of blanks, again on the canal (photo 8). All one hour or so sessions either at first light or up to dark, so although short in terms of time, all at peak feeding spells for perch. I had a few fish follow the spinner back to the bank and I watched as it could have gone either way. Unfortunately for me it dropped the wrong side of the line this time and I had no action. It was funny weather though, as I noticed a colony of white dead-nettles (photo 9) not only pushing their way through, but in bloom.
Yet at the same time the water temperature was rock-bottom. In fact some sections of canal were frozen, in spite of the relatively mild conditions. The weather in the British Isles can be hard to work out sometimes and if we only go fishing when conditions are perfect we won’t be getting out very often that’s for sure. As the canal was very clear I even switched to a smaller number 1 silver spinner (photo 10) hoping that the flash of colour might resemble a small roach. But nothing could be tempted.
But that’s angling for you. And I did have a couple of nice fish during the earlier part of the article so I was more than happy. And picking up the spinning rod again has inspired me to get out more. I have plans to do a lot more very short morning and evening sessions whenever I can during the year. So as they say, watch this space!
And finally, check out the Mepps products available at HarrisSportsmail. I’ve included a link at the foot of this article. I run the facebook page for HarrisSportsmail and they are sponsors of my website. I say that because transparency, as much as possible, is important. So if I do promote something where I could be seen to have a vested interest I like to say so. There’s nothing wrong with involvement but sometimes it’s good to let people know the score. (article published January 28 2012)