Perch Sport Fizzles Out

After catching a number of 3lb+ perch and a 4lb 1oz cracker from my local canal, I continued to fish the same spots in hope of another monster. I knew I was drinking in the last chance saloon, as surely they had to move to their spawning grounds any day now.

The boat traffic had died down after the bank holiday chaos, leaving the canal flat calm. This would lead to far better bite indication and presentation, but sadly I received no action at all. I was ready to call the perch season over, but a change in the weather gave me some hope.

A cooler spell made me think that they may not have spawned just yet so I gave it one last shot. At dusk, the delkim finally signalled that something had snaffled my lobworm and I did battle with a hard fighting fish. Another perch was the culprit, not a monster, but at just over 3lbs it was more than welcome.

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This gave me false hope that a run of big perch may be about to come my way, but all I encountered was a few missed bites and a lost eel. The eel signalled the end of my perch bonanza, as they usually move down the canal to eat the perch spawn. It was time to move onto pastures new. Bream, tench and rudd will be the targets for now. Fingers crossed that I have as much fun as I did with the perch!

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More (Bigger) Canal Perch!

Buoyed by my success from my local ‘cut’ I took advantage of a couple of days off work to try for some more stripeys. The only trouble was that these days off were over the Easter bank holiday and that can mean loads of ‘captains’ sailing their boats up and down the canal. Due to a miserable day, with cold drizzle, I thought I’d be ok. How wrong could I have been. It was like fishing on a motorway there was so much boat traffic. At times there was a line as long as the eye could see, sometimes they were racing three abreast! It made the fishing almost impossible. Added to the boat chaos was the constant lock openings, making the canal flow hard one way then the other. I almost jacked it in other than there was nothing better to do.

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Eventually, just before dusk, things began to settle and I could concentrate on the job in hand. I was fishing half a mile away from my previous session, for no other reason than I couldn’t be bothered to walk too far. Both link ledger rods were cast down the near shelf with a lobworm impaled on the size 12 wide gape hook. I also fished a float rod on the same shelf. When the canal flowed I’d use this tactic to cover more water, and maybe bag some bonus fish.

I was relieved when the Delkim burst into life and I struck into resistance as the bobbin headed towards the rod. After a typically dogged scrap, I landed the first fish of the day. It wasn’t massive, but I weighed it ‘to get my eye in’ so to speak. At a fraction over 2lbs, it wasn’t going to set any records, but I’d avoided the dreaded blank. Shotly afterwards the float bobbed, bobbed again, before sliding away. This time it felt like a better fish, nothing special though. It was soon scooped into the net where I then realised this was a fair bit heavier than the others I’d caught from the canal. It was a cracking specimen, not overly fat, just solid, with vivid colouring thanks to the clear water. The needle on the scales sailed round to just under 4lbs 2oz, so I called it 4.1 I don’t bother with half ounce weights, I just round it to the lowest whole number.

After 30 minutes in the keep net, I took a few photos of both perch before releasing them 30 yards or so away from my swim.

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After watching them swim away, I resumed my fishing. Sadly, apart from a couple of missed bites and a bumped fish, there was nothing else to report. However, I would return the following evening, hopefully after all the weekend captains had moored up for the day.

The next day was very warm, in fact it felt wrong fishing for perch in such weather. The boats had obviously been out in force as all manner of debris was floating in the canal. The boats had given the water a tinge of colour though, I thought this could help things.

After a blank 30 minutes or so a boat came through the swim, just as it passed, my alarm signalled the first perch of the day, weighed at 2lb 12oz. Straight after it the float was under and I had another big perch, this time at 3lb 10oz. With both fish in the net I tried to recast my rods. Before I had chance the last remaining rod was away, this time with a slightly smaller fish. It was chaos!

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After another boat came through there was another burst of perch to all of the rods. It seemed like the boats were encouraging them to feed this time. Whether the wash from them made my worms move or it was something else, there was definitely a pattern emerging. I even caught a small sea trout! not your average canal fish, though I’ve known friends catch them to over 4lbs from here before!

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With the fishing getting very hectic I took a few quick snap of the perch in my keep net before putting together a catch of many more perch. They were’t all big, in fact some were less than a pound. There were many 2lb+ fish though with a sprinkling of low ‘3’s for good measure. I was hoping for another ‘4’ such was the action, but I suppose that would have been just greedy. I also knew the sun was setting on my perch season, hence me making hay while the sun was shining. These fish can vanish to their spawning grounds any day and not be caught for quite some time, as they are usually very cautious feeders in this canal. For now though, I couldn’t have wished for better fishing.

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Canal Perch

I was still buzzing from the capture of my 4lb perch from Sway Lakes, so set out to catch some specimen sergeants closer to home. South Yorkshire is home to quite a few large, deep canals, and it was while lure fishing these I found a number of good perch. None of them would take my imitation fish, and one giant of a fish simply stared it out! I returned to this same spot armed with a bucket of lobworms, one of the classic perch baits. I also brought my lure rod, just to try something different if the worms failed to produce the goods.

Tactics were as simple as they come. A couple of 1.25 TC Avon rods had 4lb line fished straight through to a size 12 wide gape hook. Casting weight was 3 SSG shot fished on a simple link leger. No run rings, tubing, beads, swivels etc, in fact a tackle manufacturers nightmare! Bite indication would be via alarms and light bobbins. These would allow me to scan the water for fish activity.

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I’d just set the bobbin on the second rod when it started dancing around while the delkim screamed into life. Inexplicably, the bite was missed! I sat in my chair cursing as a couple of cold, bleak hours later, I still hadn’t had another bite. It was at this point I noticed a small fish top in the margins 30 yards to my left. I picked up the lure rod and cast a small rubber jig just past this point. My thoughts were if there’s small fish present, the perch might not be too far away. As the lure was teased back towards me, I felt a tap, then another, then the rod bent round as the hook hit home. The battle was dour, probably due to the cold water, but because it was pretty clear, a large looking stripey soon came into view. This is where I expected the worse, as I’ve hooked quite a few big perch on jigs, but they’ve all slipped the hook! This time though it went into the net, where the hook fell out! Talk about lucky. The impressive size in the water wasn’t quite as impressive on the bank, though it was still a decent fish. The needle on the scales read 3lb 6oz, a good fish to start with.

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I placed it in a keep net, just in case any more shoal mates were near by. I didn’t want it spooking those away. After another hour and no bites, I released the perch further down the canal. I presumed it must have been a loner or the fight had spooked it’s shoal mates.

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Another hour ticked by with no action when in the space of a few minutes I caught 3 more perch. Nothing big this time, they were probably between 12oz and a pound and a half. I noticed that all of the fish had come to the left hand rod so I re cast both rods further to the left. This move resulted in another good perch, the scales reading exactly 3lbs on this occasion. After 45 minutes in the net, I again returned them a short walk down the canal.

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Again, after re casting both rods, I had 2 bites very quickly, producing perch around a pound. Despite the cold I was putting a cracking net of fish together. All the while I was doing this, a number of anglers passed, throwing their lures to all parts of the canal. I felt quite smug after they’d all told me they were blanking! I can see why this lure fishing lark has taken off big time, and I think it’s a great way to locate fish, but I don’t think you can beat a big juicy lobworm to tempt a big perch or two!

Anyway, that was the last of the action for the day. The only sign of fish in the canal had been that one small fish topping in the side earlier in the day. You’d have thought it was barren, apart from the fact my bobbins kept on bouncing into life. I think I’ll be giving these fish some more attention until the weather warms up.

Big Perch and Roach

With the rivers now closed until the 16th of June I made the choice to give Sway another go. The weather was still cold so I suspected that the perch wouldn’t have spawned yet, but I hoped that the roach would be waking up and starting to feed. Because of this, I covered most bases and travelled down with a wide selection of tackle and baits.

After a steady drive down I arrived to find just one carp angler fishing the lake. I’d have thought there’d have been a few more anglers present with it being a Sunday. Still, it was a pleasant surprise. I stopped for a chat and asked him if he’d seen any large roach rolling, or indeed caught any ‘nuisance’ redfins’ The answer was promising, as he told me he’d landed a huge roach on a 20mm boilie in the night. Of course, in true carp angler style, it was not weighed! But according to him “it was huge”

This set my mind ticking over. The big roach had been tricky to catch for me so far, with only 2 fish over 2lbs in four days fishing. Perhaps they were mainly feeding at night, like they sometimes do in gravel pits I have previously fished. I had this in my mind as I flogged the water for a couple of hours trying to catch some roach. The writing was on the wall. I hadn’t even had a bite, nor seen any fish move. I decided on a move to where I’d lost the big perch on my previous visit. If I wasn’t going to catch roach, I’d have a go for the big perch.

Chopped worms and casters were catapulted into a deep hole in my new swim. I set the bait so it was just off the bottom, and rotated baits to see what they preferred. Bites soon came, a slow, steady sinking of the waggler tip resulted in some fine perch, mostly between 1.8 and 2lbs. It was clear that they preferred the casters too, as a few fish sent numbers cascading through the clearish water when they flared their gills in anger. As it was a lovely clear day, I took some photos of perch around the 2lbs mark

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Some of the better fish deserved a weigh, with the best 2 going 2.7 and 2.9. After netting the lake in November / December only 50 of the perch were put back into the lake, selling the rest on. It seemed like I was on course to catch every perch in the lake, as my total crept past the 20 mark!

As the light started to fade I again played a good fish to the net. It felt a decent weight and I hoped a big roach had muscled in on the perch party. It did a little run for some tree roots, but was easily turned unlike some of the other perch that put up some great fights on light tackle. As a big perch mouth, surfaced, opened and went into the net I was a tad cheesed off that it hadn’t been a big roach. As I went to lift the net I thought it was stuck on something, but no, it was still moving. It was at this point I realised it was the big girl, the one I’d lost in February. As I placed my hand under the net to feel her immense girth, I thought to myself that this fish had to be 4lbs, despite me knowing it was last caught at 3.11 by Hugh Miles in February. There was only one way to find out. It was time to spin the wheel of fortune!

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The fish was placed into a carrier bag, then placed on the carefully zeroed Rueben’s. The needle flickered either side of the 4lb mark, but before it could settle, I had to stop. The perch thrashed in the bag, slicing a big hole into it with it’s razor sharp gill covers. With it’s head hanging out I had to repeat the process, this time after zeroing the sling onto the dial. Again, the weight flickered either side of 4lbs, before settling exactly on the mark. I was chuffed to bits, a 4lb perch and it was a stunning fish too. To top things off she put on a fantastic display for the camera, raising her dorsal in defiance!

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Later, talking to one of the guys who’d netted the lake a few months earlier, it turned out she was 3lb 8oz back then, not the 3.12 that I’d been told. That made sense, as she’d been steadily putting on weight prior to spawning. I’ve heard some people describe a perch as being as fat as a football, but this fish was like a rugby ball. Deep, long, broad and solid. What a fish.

After that, there was only one thing to do. Make a coffee and prepare the roach tackle for night time. Any purists who are reading, skip a few lines of this blog now, as the bolt rigs came out to play! Soft Avon rods were teamed with 4lb line direct to 40 gram black cap feeders. 4 inches above this sat the nifty Korum heli rig kit, which saves a lot of hassle with the helicopter bolt rig, and allows you to change hook links quickly. On the 3 inch hook link of 3lb line was a size 16 wide gape hook, baited with 2 white maggots that had been flavoured with geranium oil.

The feeders were filled with maggots then cast out to their spots. The lines were clipped up to ensure accuracy, then I catapulted 3 pouches of hemp and maggots over each feeder. That was the traps set, it was time to see if my theory of the roach feeding at night was right. The alarms were switched on and the bobbins placed onto the tight lines, but everything was still. No roach rolling or anything. Very unusual for this lake.

It had been dark for about an hour when one of my alarms screeched into life. A fish was on and after a steady battle, the head torch illuminated the flank of a lovely roach. Lovely it was, but the scales were cruel as a weight of 1lb 15oz was recorded. Still, it was nice to get a decent redfin.

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Soon after, I was in again with roach of 2lbs exactly, and one estimated at about 1.8. After a pause of about 45 minutes, I was into another roach, this time my first decent ‘2’ of the year at 2lbs 8oz. I noticed when I placed it on the unhooking mat that the water left from the previous roach had turned to solid ice! no wonder I was feeling cold.

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After another 90 minutes without a bite, I reeled the feeders in and went to the car to warm up and get some sleep. The long drive takes more out of me every year. Maybe that’s because each year there’s more and more road works that add almost 45 minutes to the journey!

After a night were the temperature dipped well below freezing, I was surprised to wake up to an outside temperature of a balmy 7 degrees. As dawn broke I skipped down to the lake to see if I could see any roach priming or rolling. Again, all was quiet, I just hoped I could tempt some to feed through the day. I didn’t really want to target the perch as I’d already landed my target fish.

As it turned out, I did get a roach in the day, although at about 6oz it wasn’t going to get me excited. I also landed somewhere into double figures of perch again, but with nothing special this day. I did hook one good fish which I had to play hard before landing it. I was shocked to see a smallish common carp in the net. The first I’ve ever caught from Sway, and probably the smallest in the lake.

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Despite a long drive home and having to be at work early the next morning, I decided to stay a few hours into dark to see if any big roach turned up again. Sure enough, as darkness fell, I landed a fish of about 1.10. I had to wait about an hour for my next bite which resulted in another good roach of 2lbs 5oz. Just as I was weighing this fish the other rod was away, talk about chaos. I ended up landing this fish with the first roach back in the landing net. A tricky and risky thing to do. Anyway, the second fish was a beauty, but I knew it wouldn’t make 2lbs.  I unhooked it and put it straight back, leaving me with the 2.5 for another photo.

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I waited another hour, but with no further action. It was time to tackle down and get the car heading towards Gods county again (Yorkshire!) What a session though, I just wish those roach had fed in the day.