Bob Roberts got in touch with me and some other anglers to tell us about some big perch being caught from a ‘local’ lake. He wondered if we’d be up for a bit of a social on the place and to hopefully catch a big perch or more. To be honest, I was happy just to turn up for the social, but when he told us that a recent match had produced 12 perch in excess of 2lb 14oz, my attention was well and truly gained. He told us he’d reveal the location closer to the date, but it didn’t stop most of us from having a guess or 3, all wrong I hasten to add! As usual, some anglers had to drop out for various reasons, but on the day 6 hardy anglers met up on a cold, dark February morning.
Believe it or not, when the venue was revealed, it was somewhere I’d walked past many times without a thought of what lurked under the surface. A bonus was that the generous owner had let us have the place exclusively to ourselves for the day, with free hot beverages thrown in! Any fish caught would be a bonus. When we walked around the lake prior to fishing, it looked absolutely spot on for perch and it wasn’t hard to imagine the places where they’d probably be lurking. In fact there were too many features and it was a case of trying to work out where a big perch would most want to be.
We chose numbers for the order of picking pegs, and it was just my luck that I had the last pick. Never mind I thought, but luckily after everyone else had chosen their peg, I was left with loads of water that was free, and it was the place I fancied most. The reed fringed margins looked a great starting point, but I thought any small fish were more likely to be in deeper water in the cold. And lets be honest, these perch grow big by eating smaller fish, so I wanted an ambush point in deeper water. I chose to put my baits in hopefully the perfect area. Straight ahead was a 10 yard gap between 2 long, thin islands. I could just see (in my mind anyway!) big perch sat on the points of these islands, waiting for some unsuspecting small fish to swim straight into their trap. Surely I couldn’t fail!
I made myself comfortable and used 2 rods, both with link legered lobworms on the hook. These were cast to both points on each island. I also fired a few broken lobworms and casters, my favourite big perch baits, over the top.
For bite indication, I used alarms with very light bobbins on a long drop. That would allow me to keep an eye on the water for any action, plus I could relax and not miss any bites. One hour into the session though, all I’d had was a few twitches and plucks, where’s everyone else was catching. Only the odd modest perch was landed, up to around 2lbs, but some cracking carp were bending everyones rods to the limit.
In the end, my craning neck got the better of me and I switched the right hand rod to float fished casters, occasionally using a worm segment. I thought I still had a chance of a perch on that rod, with any small fish activity possibly bringing the big perch into the swim.
The change finally brought me some action, from a few small roach and a couple of carp. They at least warmed me through, plus I finally caught a perch of around a pound. Things were looking up. Eventually the lobworm rod received a screaming take, but I could tell from the odd powerful run that it was probably a carp. I was right, but still, at least the area was producing now.
Nothing much happened until well into the afternoon. I was just having a coffee from my flask when the sounding alarm grabbed my attention. The bobbin was quickly sailing to the rod butt, so I instinctively grabbed the rod and swept it back. I connected with a solid fish, forcing me to drop my coffee. I slowly eased it towards me and I was a certain it was a big perch. It was heavy, shaking it’s head, but it hadn’t gone on any powerful runs like the carp do. I’d dropped to a 0.15mm fluorocarbon hook link, so I couldn’t bully it too much. I eased the fish to the surface where my suspicions were confirmed. It was a perch and it looked huge! Luckily, the lake owner had insisted we use his landing net heads, and though smaller what I’d normally use, its manoeuvrability enabled me to scoop the fish straight in, before it could make a lunge for the reeds. It only just fitted in as well!
My tirade of swear words followed by the word perch alerted everyone to what I’d caught and they all came walking round to have a look. I placed a sling onto my scales and carefully zeroed them. The Reuben’s gave a reading of 4lbs 1oz, slightly less than I thought, but a magnificent fish from a South Yorkshire pond. After many photos from all and sundry, I put her back to grow bigger still, as she seemed a young fit perch in perfect condition.
I did eventually manage to carry on fishing, but it was mainly a social for me after that perch. I did manage some lovely looking carp on my lobworm rod, and Bob also managed a 3lb perch on his dropshot outfit.
All too soon it was time for us to say our goodbyes and head off home to wherever we came from, but not before we’d all chatted until it was pitch black. It had been a great day. A lake all to ourselves, some nice fish caught, but more importantly it was a day spent with friends who were great company. Roll on the follow up event next winter!