The meteorological hokey cokey (perch, article 470)

I enjoy spinning, and in particular targeting perch on my local canal. With miles of easy access fishing just minutes away by car, the beauty of this is that I can grab my rod which is already made up and be casting out in no time at all. Even if it’s just a spare hour it’s amazing how many flicks of the lure you can actually make in that time. And as long as your bait is in the water you have a chance.

And on my first session in this article, my spinner had hardly broke the surface and I found myself bringing in a tiny perch  that wasn’t much bigger than the Mepps Aglia number 3 that tempted it. The lure itself is from the Fluorescent range and weighs in at 6.5g, which incidentally is heavier than a common pipistrelle bat that takes the scales at a mighty 5g!

All set up and ready for action

A little heavier of course were the five Canada goose goslings, that every time I cast on my first spot, made a beeline for the splash thinking I was feeding them! They were under the watchful eye of their parents who sensed I was no threat to them as they allowed them to come quite close to me at times. Sometimes I feel like I’m Dr Doolittle you know!

The perch isn’t much bigger than the lure!

I really enjoyed the session and whilst I didn’t catch any perch worthy of a pose with yours truly, nevertheless I had a steady trickle of fish. It’s a great feeling when you feel the thud as the perch hits the spinner. Sometimes, in the clearer morning water before the boats churn up the bottom, you even see a fish follow through and pull away at the last second. And if you do any canal perch spinning yourself my tip is keep the retrieve going right to the edge as I connect with most of my fish there.

The Canada goose family on the canal

It’s not that they are all lurking next to the towpath. Mostly they are elsewhere in the canal and track the lure as it passes through the water. And as instinct tells them it might be getting away, they strike. That’s why, even with a six feet rod I stand back and allow the spinner to come right in before lifting. And even then I often sweep the rod from side to side a few times. And you’d be surprised how many fish I’ve taken that way as well!

In my perch stride, I returned to the same section that very evening intending to have an hour or so up to dark. Early on I had two decent perch, both 1lb plus fish, snatch at the Aglia right at the death as I was about to take it from the water. And in both cases the lunges were fruitless; as far as I was concerned anyway.

As darkness drew in I decided to switch to a different spinner. Still a Mepps but a number 2 silver spoon. The water was clearer than I expected and the colour looked just right for a silver spinner. I use Greys mini quick change swivels and it’s a really easy affair swapping lures. Just a case of slipping one of and putting another on in its place.

A perch on a silver Mepps

Within a couple of casts I found myself striking into a good fish, again right at the side. And guess what, I lost it. Silly me didn’t take a landing net! Disappointed to have had a close encounter with three nice fish and yet to still blank. But, as I thought to myself on the way back home, if that’s all I’ve got to worry about my life can’t be that bad can it! It just made me more determined to get back on the stretch and catch one. And take my net!

I didn’t have long to wait as the next evening I was back. Compete with landing net this time. And weather-wise we experienced a serious downturn as low single-figure temperature, strong winds and rain made it feel more like an autumn day than the height of summer. But I’m a great believer that you have to be in it to win it and no matter how adverse the conditions, you never catch unless you’re fishing! So, with an hour or so up to dark I set off for another walk along the canal.

Another venue and a different bait

I ended up with perch and a couple of chub and I’m sure the landing net gave me the edge! It was great fun, which ultimately is what angling should be. But after three short outings to the canal I turned my attention to a longer session on a totally different venue next. And a total change of tactics as well. Instead of flicking a light spinner a few yards to the far bank I was casting cage feeders 30 metres into 20 feet of water. (Funny how we mix ‘old’ and ‘new’ measurements without thinking isn’t it!)

Fishing a pair of 1lb test curve Fox Duo Lite rods with 4lb Maxima line on Okuma Zeons, after casting these were placed on bank sticks with Nash Featherlite hangers for indication. My ATT bite alarms had the 6 magnet wheels fitted for maximum sensitivity. The medium Drennan feeders we’re packed with brown crumb and dead maggots. I fished a helicopter-style set-up to avoid tangles with the hook length 4lb Sufix fluorocarbon and double red maggots  on a size 14 Drennan Super Specialist hook.

A perch ready to hit the landing net

I was into fish from the off , not monsters but all needing the net. And that shot is of one of them about to meet the mesh. I could have done with three hands but a quick shot didn’t interfere with anything. A second later it was enfolded and with the photo coming out ok I decided to use it. If you write an angling blog, variety of shots is important. And now that I use 10 in each article it gives me plenty of scope for something other than the standard pose.

A pose to be proud of

But there’s nothing wrong with those of course and the final two images from the session  are the typical ‘fish in front of angler’ pose. As you can see in one I’ve got jacket off, the other it’s on. It was that sort of day. One minute the sun was out, the next it was in. Then out again for a few minutes before disappearing behind clouds. It was definitely a day of meteorological hokey cokey for sure!

But regardless of the weather, the fish were feeding well and that’s what really counts. I really enjoyed the session which was from 1.00pm until dark. As an all-round lover of British wildlife though, on an equal footing with the fishing was the sighting of a gannet on the water! The bird was there right throughout my time, usually just sitting on the water but occasionally flying around.

Another one for the camera

On one of those flights it dive-bombed in the water in typical gannet style that you usually see on TV nature programmes. Brilliant! And to think I had travelled to South Stack near Holyhead just a few weeks before to see them and here was one close to Bridgnorth in Shropshire! If the gannet had been joined by guillemot, razorbill, chough and puffin I could have saved myself a journey!

With an hour or so on an evening available to me, my next perch session was a spinning one and can be summed up in the tweet I made afterwards. ‘Caught perch. Watched lesser whitethroat at nest site. Heard stock dove. Watched great crested grebe on canal. Serenaded by a song thrush.’ No big fish but nice to get a bend in the rod. The fish fell to Mepps Aglia number 3 silver spoon.

Looking bleak!

Lots of fishing this week and I round the article off with a return visit to the larger venue. The gannet had gone but it would have felt more at home as strong winds with gusts in excess of 40mph at times would have been more in line with the rugged coast in autumn rather than the Midlands in summer. The place looked very bleak on arrival and hardly surprisingly I had it to myself.

Cast out and waiting for some action

The rain was torrential at times so I took the shot of my set-up (photo 10) during a relative lull in proceedings. Everything was as the previous visit. It was hard going, but in it to win it is my motto. I ended up with 3 perch all about half a pound so considering the conditions I was happy with my catch. At least I didn’t blank!  Make sure you visit my Angling Journal website  and I’ll be back next Saturday with a carp angling feature.

Finally, this week I drove down to Gloucestershire/Wiltshire to meet with Phil Norman of Rock Tackle. Cutting through all the background stuff, the bottom line is I’m now working with them helping to develop and promote some gear. I was impressed with the vision for the company and for starters I came back home with the prototype of a deadbait rod that I’m going to be testing as from now. In addition there’s some other stuff in the pipeline, so as they say – watch this space! (article published July 14 2012)

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