Monday, 21 January 2013

Big river perch - a dream come true

River levels were finally starting to get somewhere close to normal and about time too. There was never much doubt as to what I would be angling for when the opportunity arose and in preparation next door's garden had been dug yet again and the bait bucket was topped with a more than respectable helping of lobworms in anticipation. As I wrote in a blog a couple of months ago the perch fishing had become hard work for me to the extent that it had become a grind, now I've put a lot of effort into my fishing over the years and will continue to do so but when it gets to that stage it has to stop. It wasn't the fishing itself that was getting to be hard work. I can, and do, blank with the best of them and that I can handle but the continual driving back and forth through heavy traffic day after day for sessions of only two to four hours was becoming very tiresome. As it turned out my self imposed break turned out to be considerably longer than I had intended due to the persistent rain but absence makes the heart, and determination, grow fonder and I was raring to go again.

My first session back left me a bit disappointing as soon as I arrived, for some reason I didn't expect to see the Trent carrying as much colour as it was and these preconceived ideas can so easily dent your confidence before you start. However I wasn't about to turn around and go home so I just got on with it, baited up via the dropper as usual with maggot and chopped worm and sent a lobworm on a feeder rig out into the depths before allowing my mind to linger on the water conditions. The irony is that it was almost certainly that self induced state of mind that caused me to miss a bite, what an idiot! Even more annoying was the fact that it was the only bite of the session but it was a certain indication that the clarity had not totally scuppered my chances. I would have put money on a perch being the culprit, an initial tap tap followed by a short pull on the quiver tip which held for a split second before pulling right round, how is it that I can relate that bite so precisely and yet still miss it?

What a trip like that tends to do to me is make me itch to get straight back to try and put things right and that's exactly what I did and so the next afternoon saw me going through exactly the same process but with a totally different outlook. Isn't it strange how something as brief as that one bite can change things completely, my confidence was so much higher than twenty four hours previously and as I've always said in this game confidence can be everything. You approach a session with no confidence and you are off on the wrong foot straight away, quite often I find that one thing leads to another and I've packed up and gone home more than once because of just that. So with me being raring to go I knocked the perch for six and bagged up, right? No, I didn't have a bite. It's enough to drive you insane this fishing lark.

A couple of days later and I was heading north once again, arriving at the river for 1.30pm. I had decided on a change of swim before I left home but not on a specific one just in case it was occupied, to be honest there are plenty of likely looking spots anyway so no matter what I would certainly find somewhere that looked good. As it happened I ended up in a peg that I had caught perch from before that gave a reasonable 6ft or so of water close in next to an overhanging tree quickly dropping down to 8ft plus within a few feet. The water clarity had improved somewhat and something told me that I had a better chance today. The dropper was hooked on to the rig and out went half a dozen drops of maggot followed by two of chopped worm smack up tight against the outer branches. I then unhook the dropper and clip a feeder on to the paternoster link. Leaving the feeder on while using the dropper can cause the whole lot to tumble and lose you accuracy let alone what effect it may have on the door opening.

An hour later and doubts were starting to creep in, the light levels looked ideal due to the low cloud base making for a murky day but the tip wasn't moving. I was just starting to wonder if I should have gone in another swim when I noticed a small tap that got my attention and I was looking at the rod end intently when it wrapped round and a fish was hooked. Within a second my thoughts were that this wasn't a perch, it ploughed up and down in the deep margin like a thing possessed and I was pretty sure that a chub was responsible. At one stage I even had to lock up and apply side strain as the fish heading back into its snaggy home so when it finally tired and a stripey flank popped up I was more than surprised. It wasn't a monster perch by any means at two ounces short of 3lb's but blimey it had certainly had three Weetabix for breakfast I've never had a perch fight like it.

Well as we all know once one fish has seen the inside of your net it becomes all systems go. I had returned the perch a couple of swims downstream and as soon as I got back to my kit I put six more droppers of bait in, possibly a brave move but if one fish was willing to have a go then the chance were that it wasn't alone. Half an hour later and I was proved right as the tip danced again and I was attached to another striped warrior. This fish was much chunkier and was obviously 3lb's plus, in fact the scales made it 3lb 7oz's and it was a cracking looking fella. It's strange how the colours vary on these fish even though they are living under the same conditions. Perch in constantly coloured water tend to be pale in general but I wouldn't have thought that so much difference would be seen as is apparent in these ones, with a bit of practice you can also pick up different patterns in their stripes too although individual fish are more easily recognised due to blemishes and damage to fins I find.

3lb 7oz
Again the fish was returned downstream though this time I held back on the dropper and relied on the small blockend feeder to top up the swim, time was getting on and I didn't want to push my luck too much. I settled back down in my seat and adjusted the tip by backwinding slightly while noticing that the isotopes were starting to become more apparent as the first signs of dusk crept in on me. Time to dig out the headtorch I thought and then in the next click of my brain I knew exactly where that headtorch was, sitting on the side in the kitchen while it's batteries were on charge. Of course that didn't stop me rustling through the rucksack with my left hand while the right hovered over the rod but no matter how I tried to wish it to appear it wasn't going to happen. Ah well not to worry these things happen I thought and at the instant round the tip jagged again in three steps, bang bang bang, if I hadn't of struck I think it would have just kept going to be honest it was that violent an attack. I played the fish out while enjoying the half light, what it is that makes those twenty or so minutes at either end of the day so much more special is hard to say but it always adds something to the atmosphere doesn't it. Again this fish was definitely in the very respectable weight range and it registered 3lb 6oz's on the balance, great stuff that was a trio that no one would be disappointed with. There was enough light to manage the pictures without having to resort to propping my phone torch up against the tripod but only just and after slipping the fish back I decided that it would be sensible to call it a day.

3lb 6oz
 That evening I had perch on the brain, the wife suspiciously said that I was being nice after I had made her the second cup of tea so I made sure to leave it for at least another hour before mentioning that I would be getting up early the next morning, I don't miss at trick me! Suspicious or not I got away with it lightly and my kit was left just inside the door ready for a quick getaway.

The alarm had been set for 6.15am but that was a wasted effort as by 4am I was wide awake and in fishing mode, brain constantly turning over different scenario's and not a hope in hell of getting back to sleep. I gave up trying at 5am and got up, by 6.30 I was opening the gate to the fishery and making my way up the track. There was no chance of fishing straight away as I couldn't make out the edge of the branches but I was in no hurry in fact I felt strangely calm which was a contrast to my normal rushed start to a fishing trip, somehow something just felt right. I took my time setting everything up and then had a wander along the bank listening to the birds wake up until I saw the sky start to lighten in the east signalling that it was time to get back.

There was just enough light to make out my target area and the half dozen bait droppers full of maggot followed again by two of chopped worm were soon laid out perfectly. The tail end of a fat lobby was nipped off with the scissors and the hook slipped into the cut end before being pulled back out through the side giving a perfect presentation with hardly any chance of the point being obscured and then the loaded feeder was swung out into place.

I had only just got myself comfortable and started to settle in when the tip jabbed and then whipped right round. I wasn't going to miss that bite even though I must admit that it did come as a bit of a surprise straight after disturbing the swim with the bait dropper. The fight was pretty pathetic though before I saw what was on the end of the line I had a gut feeling that it was a big fish, often their bulk makes them poor fighters and blimey I wasn't wrong. I looked down into the net in the margin and knew that I had a personal best. I lifted it out onto the mat and turned the torch on, now I knew that this one was going to be close to the magic 4lb. I started to get a bit jittery them so I unhooked the perch before lowering the net back in to the water and securing it with the rod rest while I got myself together. I was rooting around in my rucksack when I panicked and dropped everything just to make double sure that the net was safe and the fish couldn't escape, dear me what a mess! With the sling wetted out and the scales zeroed the fish was hoisted back out and I parted the mesh to have another look, I wasn't so sure now, maybe it was a big 3lber. I popped it into the sling and lifted it up to hook on to the scales, I don't know I thought, it does feel heavy. I paused for a second just to contemplate what was happening and to consider that this could be the fish that I had been chasing for a long time and then bit the bullet and slipped the hook through the loops. I swung the scales round to face me and peered at the dial, just to prolong the agony the lens was all smeared up but when I wiped away the muck a great big fat smile spread across my face and I shouted something out, I haven't got a clue what! 4lb 3oz's of lovely fat stripey perch, a long standing ambition achieved and I was flying. I popped it back into the water for a while I let daylight develop for the photographs and just sat there grinning away like a lunatic. Then I decided that I may as well cast back out, two minutes later I decided that I didn't need to cast back out so wound in. Five minutes later I thought don't be daft cast out again, another couple of minutes of fidgeting and I wound in and gave up, I just didn't need to fish.

Once the light was sufficient to make a decent job of the pictures I quickly got those done, just me and my perch sitting in the wet grass without a care in the world. I walked it back down to the margin and held it flat in one hand just above the surface before letting it slowly slip back in to the water and watching it waddle off into the depths.

Simply stunning
In all honesty I should have gone home there and then but I stayed and I enjoyed being next to the water even if my heart wasn't really in the fishing. I did have another fish mid morning, a chub of three and a half pounds odd, but I spent more time wandering and nattering to other anglers than I did fishing. Late afternoon I saw something that did make me glad that I had stayed though. An angler along the bank asked if I would photograph a chub for him, not any old chub but one that weighed 6lb 12oz's. Blimey it must have been the day of the big fish, what a cracker that was and maybe that will be what fires me up next.


  1. There's nothing like that moment when you realise "That's a PB" !
    Great read Rob - congrats.

    1. Thanks Lee! I owe you an apology by the way mate, your blog got missed off my blog roll after it crashed a month or so back and I only noticed the other day, all sorted now ;)

  2. Wow! that's some proper perch fishing.

  3. What a brilliant read and some fantastic perch, I know over the course of days on facebook that I have said it to you already Rob, those are some superb looking sergeants and that 4.3... a peach, well done mate.

  4. As you say, simply stunning!

  5. Great write up Rob and superb fish , I would settle for a 3lber , hate work it just gets in the way .

  6. Brilliant Rob simply brilliant, not just a massive fish but a stunner as well and your grin says it all, you look kind of spaced out!! well done!

  7. Yeah I reckon spaced out pretty much sums it up mate!

  8. Fantastic! Well done, makes me wanna try the Perch again at my local spot.