Friday, 18 March 2011

Big Perch Quest - This Fishing's on Fire!

After publishing a piece concerning perch and my ongoing and frustrating problem with passing a certain weight of them you'd be forgiven for thinking that I'd just made up what follows for dramatic effect, for the sake of a good story... believe me, I often think my entire life pans out along a rolling story-line that I have no part in the authorship of and this continuing sub-plot of perch fishing incompetence is just sodding typical of what I, as an actor, have to put up with on a day-to-day basis.

I'd guess that many people feel much the same way about their own lives?

I went back to the commercial fishery visited Friday last for another stab at putting even one measly ounce more than one pound and eight ounces of perch flesh in my net, and guess what? I failed once again... I lost a good two pounder, a fish that certainly would have done it for me and then to compound matters went on to land not one, but two fish just under the target weight, at 1:06 and 1:07 respectively...

It was fascinating fishing though, I must say. I float fished lobworms a few yards out but through the course of the day found that to get perch bites I had to fish no further than two feet out from the bank and inside a particular area that was about the size of a sofa and no deeper than eighteen inches. Outside this area - nothing doing. The bites were also infuriatingly difficult to hook up to with the vast majority missed completely.

I changed hooks and hook size too, struck early, struck late, but to no avail. I suspected small fish at play and every now and then I would see a flash of silver down deep suggesting the presence of roach feeding on the loose feed of red maggots. Only when I introduced chopped worm into the swim (which has to be the most expensive groundbait of all) did things improve and then the bites started turning into the occasional small perch, followed later by the bigger fish.

In the evening I finally hooked what I suspect was the culprit of the majority of the missed bites, a six ounce rudd. I guess that with this specimen perch lark you just have to learn to be patient?

Session Impossible
Yesterday I met Keith at the same lake. We met at three but I walked the near three miles from home to get in a few extra hours work and as I enjoy walking it's not so far if I take minimal gear along. As I walked along the towpath (both home and lake are beside the Cov Canal) I was plagued by an uncertainty, it was as if I'd forgotten something important, an item of tackle or some such thing. I went through a checklist of necessary items, but all seemed in place.

Just as I passed under bridge 13 in Bedworth I stopped in my tracks with the startling thought that I'd left my cheese on toast bubbling away under the grill! What with all the faff of preparing all the last minute details of a fishing trip I put it under the grill, I remembered that clearly, but never ate it. Holy crap. It must be on fire!

Here I was, half an hour from home without any means of transport and laden with fishing gear, a rapidly forming picture of a burning kitchen, plumes of smoke and a fried dog in my mind so I did the sensible thing and rang Judy, who was in a meeting, then panicked and rang 999...

Once the emergency services were on their way I raced back along the towpath just as fast as my legs would carry me. I made it back to home only to have to greet three very butch looking firemen leaning against their tender and smirking as a steaming idiot visibly cooking in a gallon of his own juices struggled up the last hundred yards of Hurst Road's usually inconsequential hill.

In the door we went and without the aid of a fire axe, them having already long established that there had never been a fire, only to find the grill stone cold, switched off, quite empty and with the worktop bare too... no cheese on toast existed...

Because the dog had eaten it!

I'd made the meal, left it on the side, got side-tracked and clean forgotten about it.

"It could happen to anyone", chuckled the boss fireman as he stroked Molly's innocent spaniel head with her upturned, pink-lined 'I love you' eyes staring longingly up at his towering authority, "in fact it's happened to me, don't worry about it, it's all part of the service..."

To restore a little pride in myself, after a quick shower and a complete change of clothing, I walked all the way back to the lake instead of ringing Keith for a pick-up so the entire journey to the lake came to a grand total for the day, of seven miles.

I finally arrived there at two thirty and fished an hour in advance of Keith's arrival. When he did arrive he decided to fish in the windward corner but I'd decided to fish the afternoon on the opposite side of the water in the lee of a high bank and well out of the wind. He thrust a walkie-talkie in my hand so we could both keep informed about progress.

Invariably I choose to float fish in calm water as I really don't enjoy watching a float bobbing around in the chop if I don't have to, and I find that I catch more too because of the unimpaired concentration. Here in a comfortable corner I set up in a gap in a bed of dead reeds with a small overhanging shrub to the right. I put a bait under this shrub and a bait by the reeds to the left.

All was still for ages but then I began to get attention on the left hand rod. Soon I got my first proper bites but once again they proved impossible to hit... but soon this flurry of bites died away and all was still once more. I was considering a move an hour later when the right hand float suddenly shot under. I missed it, of course.

I was fishing both rods with size four circle hooks bought earlier in the day and on trial as a possible answer to my hook-up problems (with problems such as these what wouldn't you give for an underwater camera and a bankside monitor?) but these missed bites were rocking my confidence in the pattern, until I finally hooked and landed a small perch firmly hooked in the scissors.

Deciding to feed chopped worm in addition to red maggots into the patch of water by the bush had the desired effect of bringing the swim alive in no uncertain way with bite, after bite, after bite, from then on in and well into the darkness and once again, all from within a few feet of the bank and inside a strictly limited area of a few square yards.

A half pounder was landed, then a one pounder too but these out of very many attempted 'strikes' and then I hooked and even saw a very large fish, probably well on the way to three pounds, that was on for a few brief seconds, but was soon lost. I really thought this escapee would have spooked the pack but I was wrong - the very next cast receiving a positive bite from a perch that was hooked and swiftly banked.

Less of a smile and more of a grimace

Well, you could not make it up, you really couldn't...

One pound, eight ounces, and four drams.

I jiggled the trusty brass Salter scales - trusted because jiggling never has any effect upon them - if they say it, they mean it, and will always and without fail just settle straight back down to the exact same weight. Bugger. Eight drams and I could have legitimately rounded up to nine ounces...

Damn those trusty scales!


  1. Great post Jeff as usual.
    Chopped worm as groundbait? Yes bloody expensive.
    What lengths do you go to to have a few moments of quality time with a couple of butch Firemen!
    AND to raise your PB by 8 drams later. I feel knackered just reading your post.