An angler's journal

Friday, 23 December 2016

The search for a big river perch - A tale of woe

The last twelve months have seen me finally get amongst some perch. Thanks to some help with locating some stillwaters with potential, I have managed to net some fine fish to over 3lb. However, my real target was a river fish of 3lb plus. To catch a wild fish displaying its finest colours was my focus. Of course location was key. My river of choice would be the Warwickshire Avon but the BAA's insistence on a live bait ban would limit my options. I finally pinpointed a location that ticked all the boxes. I could live bait providing I could catch them, and the swim I had in mind provided me with some sheltered deep water next to a nice flow which perch are find of. It also contained evidence of small fish which surely would have been of interest to the area's predators.

I was armed with my ledgered perch set up incorporating a link of 10lb Drennan Soft Strand to counter the inevitable pike attention. I also had a dedicated pike set up with some dead baits and a waggler to catch some silver fish. The problem I had was a lack of quality bait. My old maggots had mostly turned to floating casters meaning I had to feed groundbait and pick out the odd remaining maggot. Not ideal but I had been lazy. Unfortunately, this was to prove costly. Although I was sure small fish were present I really struggled. Eventually, I caught a perfectly sized roach. Out it went and it was not long before the alarm beeped and my strike was met with a fish. The speed of the run told me the culprit was a pike but it somehow managed to slip the hook after charging too close to my deadbait rig. More amazingly, the roach was still tethered and apart from a few missing scales was in good nick. This was brilliant news as the only other fish I had caught were too big for perch live baits. Soon after another beep signaled a take. I struck into the fish and the nodding rod told me I had hooked into a perch and what felt a good one. Having caught some decent perch this one felt in an altogether different league. Perhaps it was the flow but I caught a glimpse under the surface and began to get excited as it took line from the reel. I was convinced this fish was special. You can imagine my despair when inexplicably the hook slipped and the fish made its escape. Without another suitable bait I was powerless to see if I could provoke another predatory fish into feeding. I tried worms in vain and soon the light went and with it the window of opportunity.
A perch, but not the one that got away

I have to admit to feeling pretty crestfallen. To lose a fish is bad enough but it's a terrible feeling when you sense the fish was a true specimen. On the plus side, I at least have a spot to try again. The key of course will be being better prepared for the small fish. I am sure that if I can get them feeding and manage to catch a few the rest of the plan will fall into place. Whether I can tempt a big perch into the picture remains to be seen but I will definitely be giving it another go.

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