A distinct lack of perch (Entry 109)

The concoction made its way out to the swim via the pole cup. A dark, sloppy mess if truth be told, but one full of attractive amino acids soaked into compost. Amongst it chopped worm segments still wriggled attractively. A few casters finished things off perfectly. Upon hitting the water it began clouding outwards and down. I was on the canal once more, in search of perch, determined to try to make contact with one of specimen proportions. They certainly lived here but so far this autumn I have yet to find where these monsters are lurking. The rod and reel had been left at home this week. I planned to fish the far bank and knew the pole would allow me to get much closer. Within inches if I so wished. For now though I had baited about a foot from the reeds that lined the far bank and I began to edge a light pole rig through the swim, letting the tow drag the worm along the bottom, hopefully right into a big perch’s mouth. Well, I can dream.

Another early start on the canalI had arrived just before dawn and positioned myself in between two barges. There was a light mist in the surrounding fields and the day was predicted to be overcast. It was perfect conditions for fishing and I felt very confident of catching. It took a few runs through the swim to get any interest though and when it came it was my nemesis of recent weeks; the bream. What was different about this fish was the way it fought. I honestly thought the fish was foul hooked at one point, every time it neared the surface the bream bolted powerfully back down to the canal bottom. Maybe it had been taking fighting lessons from a resident tench? Eventually it gave in. No more the a pound and a half and not the target species. Gratefully received all the same.

More bream!

Another four bream followed in successive put ins albeit of a smaller stamp. The fish were certainly enjoying lobworm. They were enjoying four dendrobaenas halves too. It seemed that no bait was too big for their mouths. And nothing could curtail their appetite. Still, I was catching fish and there was nothing wrong with that. The species then changed, firstly to perch, small ones not more than a few ounces and then to ruffe. Although they are quite pretty looking fish it’s never a good sign to see them appear in your swim. In my experience they are usually the death knell.

The humble ruffeI decided that it was time to try fishing a little further out. Maybe the fish were tucked up amongst the cover of the reed stems. I shallowed the rig a little and began to explore. I lifted and drop the rig. Dragged the bait through the swim. Held it dead still. Nothing. I decided to lift it once more but this time I held it for a few seconds before letting it fall back the the bottom. The float settled, well it looked as if it was settling, instead it just vanished into the murky water. The strike saw coloured elastic peel out from the end of the pole. This felt like a better fish. Much better indeed. The mystery fish dropped from the shelf down into the boat channel and I was sure that I was playing a good perch. Definitely a two pounder, maybe more. I slowly shipped the pole back in readiness to net the fish, which had begun to see my way of thinking, and rose to the surface. A little jack pike and not a perch at all! It’s toothy grin was one of ‘I had you fooled, didn’t I?’

A small jack pike with a liking for lobworm.The fishing was very slow after this. In the next hour I had just one other tiny perch. It looked like the boat traffic was picking up too. Time to pack away. Defeated once again but certainly not beaten. It had been an interesting session on a picturesque stretch of canal. I’ll certainly be back. Next week though, I might have a change and come back to the perch once the autumn has truly set in.

So, where to go and what to target?

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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Until Next time tight lines

NorthwestFisherman

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Any success is welcomed success (Entry 108)

This was the week. I was sure of it. Maybe it is still a little too early, given the mild conditions, but the night time temperatures are starting to drop. I felt there was enough of a nip in the air to get those big perch on the prowl. It was to be a dawn start, a few hours fishing before the barges begin their procession. The canal I was heading to is a very busy one when it comes to boats. It would be another month or so until their numbers begin to dwindle. By then the autumn will be in full swing. The weather a lot cooler. It would be great to get a few perch under my belt early though.

A moody sky and bankside silhouettesIt was lovely setting up in the ‘still to dark to see a float tip‘ gloom. The cloudy sky preventing the sun from illuminating the cut for a little while longer. Having fished here before, I knew the general area I was going to fish and began feeding red maggots with the catapult. But wait a second. Something just wasn’t right. I used to fish just off the overhanging far bank trees. Where were the trees? As the light levels increased it had become apparent that someone had thought it best to remove them. Apart from the one or two still standing proud. I couldn’t believe it. Of course, the underwater features would still remain but so much of the cover perfect for ambushing prey, was now gone. Once I had plumbed up I threaded a lobworm onto the hook and had an exploratory first cast. The canal looked naked without its flank of gnarled and twisted trees. Still, when the float shot under towards the end of the run, I felt somewhat better about the situation.

I can't escape the breamA small skimmer bream was the culprit. It seems at the moment I’m a bream magnet. But a fish is a fish and I am never disappointed with catching a species I’m not targeting. Before baiting the hook I fed another pouch full of maggots and a few pieces of chopped worm. Quite big pieces that would hopefully find their way to the bottom in a what was a fairly strong tow. Another cast and another fish. A bream of course and the next cast produced another. In protest I started to feed a line right under my feet. Unless a few of the big perch moved into the far bank swim I felt it would be a bream only session. I’ve caught a few good perch fishing tight to my own bank over the years. I hoped it might be my saving grace today.

A surprise silver breamAfter a few more skimmers I landed a bonus silver bream. I love to see these fish. Their beautiful, pearlescent scales shimmering in the early morning light. Such a small mouth, seemingly ill designed for eating two and half dendrobaenas! After one more skimmer and a tiny chublet of around an ounce, I thought it time to try the inside swim. Straight away the float settled then bobbed. It lifted slightly before plunging under. A solid strike set the hook into my target species. I could tell by the jagging fight. Not a big fish but by all accounts, a slice of welcomed success. I can catch perch after all.

At last!Over the next twenty minutes I went on to take another ten perch of similar size. In the distance a gentle chugging began to fade in over the birdsong. It would be the first barge of the day. No, make that the first two of the day. I took this as an opportunity to have a cup of coffee and a quick bite to eat. When the boats passed through I wished the drivers a good morning. The first reply, from a curly haired lady, was excitable and full of energy. The second reply less so. It came from a bleary eyed man in his mid forties. One too many the night before sprang to mind. He gave an almost apologetic nod as he passed by and with that I continued to fish close in. The bites were a lot harder to come by now. It’s amazing how a little disturbance can sometimes knock the fish of kilter. Somedays though it can work in your favour. After ten biteless minutes I assumed this was not to be one of those days. Checking the far bank swim again I managed a tiny perch of not even an ounce. Just in time, as another procession of barges made their way through the swim. I was happy with the few hours fishing and although I had not managed any of the big perch I know are in the canal, I was happy to have broke my duck for the autumn.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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Until Next time tight lines

NorthwestFisherman

When I say perch fishing… (Entry 107)

I wandered the bank looking for a suitable place to start fishing. It was late afternoon and the sun was already starting to descend towards the horizon. First it would sink past the trees which surrounded the water. The light levels would drop but there would still be a golden glow coming from between the leaves and branches. Eventually of course, the sun would disappear completely, and the magical time between daylight an darkness would give an angler the best chance of a good fish. The witching hour. Or so the theory goes. Even if no fish turn up it’s still a glorious time to be out in the countryside. For now though I needed to find a swim.

There has to be some perch here

Perch were once again my target. Not the river I fished last week but a still water a little closer to home. Marginal weed beds, overhanging trees, a defined ledge a little further out. This swim looked perfect. In no time I was set up and ready to feed the swim. I was using the pole today. It made it easier to tuck the bait right under the tree if I needed to and I could move the bait in a variety of ways. Trying to induce takes rather than sitting there motionless. This meant I could feed with a pole cup. Introduced at the start was a mixture of chopped dendrobaenas and lobworms, a little hemp, and a little glug of worm extract. Hopefully this would arouse some interest in any perch nearby.

Not pretty but a great bait

While the swim settled I was visited by a fellow angler who was keen to know what I was after on here as he had never had much luck, apart from a few small gudgeon. Where there’s gudgeon, there’s perch. When I told him I was after perch he seemed disinterested. ‘Greedy little beggars’ he called them. I hoped that his somewhat insulting comment turned out to be true. It would certainly make my job of landing a few much easier. As I turned around to continue the conversation with him he was already two pegs down the bank. A brief and strange little encounter to say the least.

A classic bait, the humble lobworm

Time to fish. Lobworm was my hookbait choice, mounted on a size 10 hook. A small float stop added to ensure the worm didn’t wriggle off as this water has a barbless hook only rule. I gently lowered the bait into the swim and watched the worm fall through the clear water, writhing and contorting its body. What an attractive bait for a perch. The float settled and my plan was to leave the rig still for thirty seconds before moving it and repeating. I didn’t make it to thirty seconds though as after just a few, the float slowly slid under and a substantial fish was hooked. Unfortunately, the fish didn’t fight angrily. It plodded and rose high in the water. A bream. Not a bad one though and caught just a few metres from the bank.

If only this was a perch!Fish returned in the next peg I fed a little more of the chopped worm concoction. This time I managed to love the float several times before I had another bite. And when it came it was the fight of another bream. A half blind, sorry example of the species if truth be told. It certainly looked like it had seen better days but had a liking for a full lobworm.

Hardly a pristine looking breamOnce more I fed the swim. I hoped that with the fading light, the perch I know are in here would start to feed. Problem being that the bream also like to feed during this time and they were already present in the swim. I debated moving, but in the end I stayed put, and added a few more similar sized bream to the tally. Another failure to catch a perch. I had a very pleasant time time all the same. A few lovely fish were caught. Bar the one that looked half blind. It will only be a matter of time before the days get shorter, the temperatures drop and those perch begin to feed in earnest. I’ve got a few worms with their name on.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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Until Next time tight lines

NorthwestFisherman

Perch, already? (Entry 106)

This session had certainly come around rather quickly. I couldn’t believe I was already starting to think about perch. It seems that the spring rushed by in the blink of an eye and the summer followed suit. A blur of tench, crucian and bream fishing trips. Now it’s almost autumn. The leaves are already turning a yellower shade of green and in some cases have already made their transition to mustard colour. With the frosts still hopefully a good few weeks away, I thought I would start my perch fishing off a little earlier this year. I approached the idea as one of ‘getting to know the water’ more than anything else. Exploring a number of swims, getting an idea of the depths and contours, and making notes of any interesting snags or visible features. The area I am concentrating on; two sections of a fairly deep and slow moving river. A river full of small roach, rudd and gudgeon. Surely an environment perfect to throw up a big stripey or two.

A lush riverbank - Home for the dayThe picture above is perhaps not the typical one you would associate with a perch trip. The bank side grass still lush and alive, the trees canopy still offering plenty of shade. The river was looking lovely it has to be said. Just a tinge of colour but good visibility on the whole. There was plenty of far bank and nearside cover on the length I was on today. Although the sun was shining brightly. Occasionally a cloud would block it from view but in the majority it was bright, and for the angler, rather pleasant. I had brought just one rod with me and it was my intention to fish a couple of swims for an hour at a time. Presenting a tempting lobworm on a float rig. Moving the bait through the swim, holding back or laying the bait on a little. A lovely style of fishing for getting to know a swim.

A lovely float pattern for perch fishing

I fed a few chopped pieces of worm and a few casters and then proceeded to work the swim. On my second cast I had a tentative take. A little rattle and a slight sinking of the float that was enough for me to strike at. The rod arched over into a pleasing curve and in the depths, over ten foot below, the fish hugged the bottom. A very smooth fight, apart from the odd aggressive head shake. I had a sneaky suspicion that this fish was one that has become rather endangered in the last decade or so. Slowly I eased the fish higher, all the time the head shaking getting more aggressive and pronounced. A minute or so later I was not surprised to see the outline of an eel fade into view. It looked a fair sized one too. Another thirty seconds passed and the fish was in the net. Writhing into knots and covering my net in slime.

An acquired taste - the eelThe fishing gods were smiling down on me though. Thankfully the hook was lodged in the mesh of my landing net and on closer inspection looked to have done so the moment I had netted the fish. I decided to give the fish a weigh and was pleasantly surprised to see the dial settle on 2lb 2oz. I want to say I ‘admired’ the eel before letting it go. I think a more accurate term would be appreciated it. They certainly are an acquired taste. But their life cycle is truly amazing. A feat of endurance if nothing else. They look truly prehistoric. Their eyes are like no other fish I can think of.

Look at those eyesWith the eel returned I thought it time to move. The next swim I settled in was a little shallower than the last and the pace seemed quicker. There was a delightful eddy on the nearside though and it was here I presented my bait. Second cast and another bite. Yep you guessed it, eel time! Smaller than the first and thankfully only lip hooked. Those fishing gods were certainly taking care of me today. Well, kind of. You see I fished another three swims and took an eel in each. All unhooked and returned with absolute ease. But try as I might I could not tempt a perch. Not even a small one. Still, I had explored the length somewhat and had a good idea of areas I would like to try again. I hadn’t blanked and had enjoyed the method I employed. Such a versatile method for various forms of presentation. Well, static and slow moving. There’s something soothing for an anglers soul to watching a orange topped float amble slowly down a river. Even when the intended quarry are absent. Every time that orange beacon of hope disappears, the heart rate increases, and you never know. You just never know.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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Until Next time tight lines

NorthwestFisherman