Last winter my perch fishing started with a bang, and I never doubted this year one bit, although it did have me worried there for a while. With two false starts under my belt and still no cold snap, I was beginning to think about other species, but deep down I really wanted that big December perch. A tip off from a friend alerted me to the whereabouts of some stripeys that seemed partial to a float fished prawn, just my sort of venue.
It was an early start for me, up at 5am, dressed and out without waking the girls, and then to a deserted Tesco for a couple of bags of king prawns to go with a pint of maggots I’d obtained from Manning’s the day previous, the recipe for a good day’s perch angling. The wind blew hard on the way to the venue, a drive which spanned just over an hour, and all the way I could feel the car shudder as the strengthening gusts ripped towards me.
I arrived to find a few carp anglers in place already; they were either there all night or arrived at first light. A quick walk located an empty bank with some marginal features, there were also some high trees behind me making it feel far less windy than the rest of the lake. In no time at all I had the brolly up and two rods fixed up with some of my home made quills and size 6 hooks. The lake was deep, and the closer in you fished, the deeper it was. I’d say it was around 5 feet or so just a couple of rod lengths out.
After casting both rods out I sprinkled some broken prawns and maggots in the area, mostly to attract small bait fish which, in turn, would bring in the perch. That was the plan, and it seemed to work rather quickly too. The float on the right hand rod disappeared, I watched as with the bow in the lines and the strong gusts, the floats were frequently pulled under. After a few seconds it never surfaced so I wound down, struck and felt a wonderful kicking sensation. The Andrew Davis All-rounder with its Avon tip performed beautifully, and soon I was posing with my first big perch of the season.
That fish went 2lb 8oz, the perfect start and things only got better too. Only around 20 minutes after returning that first fish the float on the left hand rod dipped a couple of times then sank for good. After another spirited but short battle, this time on the Chapman 500, the hook unfortunately fell out before I caught a glimpse of the culprit. I cast back to the spot quickly in case the fish was still lurking, and either that same fish or one of its brothers almost instantly hit the prawn and soon found its way in the bottom of my net.
At 2lb 10oz it was another pearler, the day simply couldn’t have started any better. A little warming swig from the flask of Oxo and I was ready to go again. One thing I will mention here is that all the time I was weighing and photographing the perch, the other rod was wound in. It’s quite important that you hit these bites quickly to avoid deep hooking. An unattended rod can mean a dead perch, and these fish are too incredible to harm.
The final bite of the morning was somewhat after breakfast, yet again on the Chapman and this one really pulled and had me back-winding like mad on a few occasions, I could tell it was a better fish. As it slid into the net I punched the air, a proper warrior of a perch and a fat one too. With the other rod wound in and the fish resting in the net I readied the scales and the camera. A weight of just over 2lb 15oz was recorded and the photos taken. I held the fish gently in the margins until it kicked strongly away. A truly memorable fish.
The rain began and things went very quiet, the floats sat untouched, being dragged under briefly only when the wind blew the line. It was a delightful afternoon though, watching the carp anglers land a few fish, tucking into my lunch (yep, Christmas Ham sandwiches again), and observing the beautiful birds that visited me, notably some long tailed tits, a pair of goldcrests and a very friendly robin. It wasn’t until almost 3pm that the action returned, and this brought warmth to my bones as I’d started to get quite cold just sat.
The first bite resulted in a dropped fish soon after the strike, and the next 2 bites produced perch of 12oz and 1lb 2oz respectively. The next time the quill sank I found myself connected to something obviously larger than the previous pair, and soon enough I had a beautiful sergeant of 2lb 6oz posing for the camera. It was another character of a perch; each one was different and had its own charm. Some had tatty find, some had fins of bold crimson, but they were all marvellous.
The final bite of the day coincided with the rain becoming more persistent. Another big perch weighing 2lb 1oz meant no less than 5 over the magic 2lb mark; a truly great day’s angling in anyone’s book. Soon after releasing that final fish I began packing the things away under the cover of my brolly, wiped the reels and rods down and hurried to the car before I got too drenched. I drove home happy after what had been a memorable day, my winter perch campaign finally under way, and on fine style.