The first outing in this article was intended for roach, but a last-minute raid on my wormery at home in effect saw my focus move to my favourite species, the perch, as I ventured on a local lake. I was fishing about 30-35 metres on the venue which is just about comfortable distance for my quiver tip Fox rod. Any further and the pressure from hurling a 17g or 20g cage feeder out results in tips snapping. On this occasion my feeder was filled with groundbait and dead maggots so once it hit the deck I retrieved it slightly so it emptied. Hook size was 10 and bait, as previously referred to, was a good old fashioned juicy worm.
I had just the one fish (photo 1) in the very short time I was there, which highlights the point I often make, that the line between ‘success’ and ‘failure’ is often a very thin one. I regularly have sessions where I get just one fish, but it happens to be a good one. And in the freezing conditions I fished this time round I was more than happy with my solitary perch. In fact, as I packed away, ice was beginning to form in the margins of the lake. With light from nearby street lamps reflecting on the water I could actually watch the spread of the ice as the sudden drop in air temperature affected the surface of the water.
A day later and the weather conditions were even worse with the lake partly frozen. But that was fine, I just fished the bit that wasn’t covered in ice! And hardly surprisingly I had it to myself! I arrived late in the afternoon and the air temperature had already fallen to sub-zero. I was fishing the same approach as session 1 other than the bait was a single maggot (photo 2) on a size 18 hook. The banks were so hard I couldn’t even get a stick in, so rested the rod on my tackle box. Sometimes you just have to improvise!
I have picked up perch into dark on this venue so I had already put the isotope on when the tip started to pull indicating that a fish was on the other end. From the moment I struck I knew it was a decent one and all I was thinking was that it wouldn’t come off as I played it in. Fortunately my wish was granted, the fish made the net and we both posed before the camera (photo 3). For the second day on the trot I was on the right side of the success/failure line. And by the time I headed back to the car after my 2.5 hour session, it was very cold and as well as the solid ice extending further, the margins and beyond were again taking on a thin layer.
Normally I do the accompanying video on the first session but as the two previous ones were very short I decided to shoot this one on the third outing, which was to a large 100 acre venue (photo 4). Not only did it give me more time to do the video properly, it also gave me ample opportunity to get a fish for the camera, which I always like to do. Fail! In spite of fishing for 5 hours, which was far more than the previous two sessions combined, I did not get a single tap. And this on a venue where I have done well before. But that’s fishing for you, as we all know. You can see my groundbait mix (photo 5) and quiver tip (photo 6).
There’s no need for me to go into the session as I pretty much cover it in the video. But even though I didn’t catch I was absolutely thrilled to watch an Iceland gull right at the end as it came in with the others to roost. It was easily noticed from a distance and I observed it for a while with my binoculars. My fishing ones aren’t as good as the ones I use when actually birding. In fact I have a pair of Swarovski, which along with my Kowa scope means I have some decent kit. And although they would be handy when fishing, no way would I even risk it. Anyway, that’s for serious birding not when out fishing, and I need to do one or the other and be really focused.
I rounded the article off with a late afternoon visit to the local Staffs/Worcs Canal. I had a small perch (photo 7) just a few casts in which took the Mepps Aglia number 3 with confidence. I love spinning for perch and when you do get a take it’s great as you can feel the fish attack the spinner. Fishing with a lure of an description means you are in direct contact with anything that decides to launch an ambush. As you can see from the photo the fish was hooked cleanly in the mouth. I was able to remove the hook by hand but I always carry forceps just in case.
When spinning for perch on the canal I look for features and there’s nothing more inviting than a far bank bed of reeds (photo 8). Along with bridges and overhanging trees these are among the number one fish-holding areas on the canal. It was on this particular stretch that I had a big perch follow though in a recent spinning session. But right at the end it turned away. I blanked that day but I could have had a cracker of a fish. That’s the fine line between success and failure! I didn’t get a big one this time but a least I caught and that’s another one (photo 9).
I have recently got a new reel (photo 10) specifically for my canal perch fishing as I do intend to do a lot more from now on. Having venues just a few minutes drive away, plus the fact that spinning is instant, there are going to be lots of sessions making my Angling Journal. The reel in question is a Spro Passion and is built perfectly for this sort of fishing. I did get a few ‘birdsnests’ though and even though I gave the bale alarm specific attention on the cast it was still an issue.
I have got a rod on order however that is a perfect match for the reel, so I am hoping it was just the rod I used that was the problem. I have used it before though with another reel and never had any issues, so we will have to see. Once my other one arrives and I fish with it I will report back. I’m sure it will all work out in the end. And on the subject of my Angling Journal this is my 450th entry, so quite fitting that a minor milestone should be occupied by my favourite species. Although chub have recently been pushing them, it’s still the perch that is out there.
Over the years I’ve become increasingly aware just how popular my Angling Journal has become, certainly in the wider area where I live. Most of the time I go fishing I never see another angler but on a weekly basis I get recognised as I am walking along the bank, they’re walking past me, or in the car park. And sometimes away from the water’s edge. It’s amazing how much people take on board as well. Sometimes they can remember things that I have forgotten. It just shows the power of the internet doesn’t it?
One particular venue I fished not long back had half a dozen or so anglers on there and during the course of the day, whether by people coming directly to me or else speaking on the way round, every one of them knew me from my Angling Journal. I always appreciate it when other anglers take the time to tell me they read my ramblings. With me fishing local waters in the area where I live, that’s why it gets such a decent following. Plus it is updated regularly. In fact, every Saturday religiously. But you would expect that of course! Anyway, here’s to the next milestone – entry 500! (article published February 25 2012)