Thursday, 24 March 2011

Big Perch Quest - Occupational Hazardry

Like most anglers I'm a weather freak, constantly scanning the Met Office website for news of upcoming weather events that might hamper or indeed, improve fishing prospects. The short range forecast for the coming week looked very bad for my prospects with a rash of unseasonably warm days coming along coupled with bright clear skies that would bring on the carp and tench who do like an upturn in temperatures
, but would probably put down the big perch who hate change of any kind. Nevertheless I thought I'd do a half-day at Weston Lawns on Wednesday just on the off-chance that my fears were unfounded, as they often are.

On the way into the fishery I was greeted by the lake owner's lolloping great dane and its terrier sidekick. Though both are harmless enough, and despite the shin-high terrier being a scarier force of nature than the great dane, somehow you never can get a deep seated primal fear out of the equation when dealing with a dog the size of a leopard with teeth to match, that's as white as a sheet and stares at you with the otherworldly pink eyes of an albino.

I ignored them both and carried swiftly on by...

I'd had some thoughts about all the missed bites of the previous sessions and thought that starting off with small sharp hooks (12's) and worms nipped in half and then hooked through the very tip of the head leaving the point completely exposed would resolve the issues, in part at least. This worked beautifully with almost every bite resulting in a hooked fish, all perch excepting one ten ounce roach, but on the small side and with nothing larger than half a pound.

I was fishing a spot that had produced two two-pound plus fish for Keith, a couple of mid-pounders and a lost two pounder for myself on previous occasions but today seemed full of fish of a size that would have been barged out of the way if any large predatory perch had been anywhere nearby. Clearly, the big fish were out in deeper water somewhere and well away from the rays of the sun.

Two mating frogs hiding away in the spawn of the marginal weed

My predictions about the effect of the warmth and bright light upon the carp population also proved spot on. As the afternoon wore on more and more heavy duty fish movements could be seen around the lake and when a low flying duck spooked a big fish in very shallow water just left of my position I decided to put a bait to it on a barbel rod I had in the rod bag for just such an occasion.

Within twenty minutes the buzzer sounded a trill of beeps but I struck to find myself attached not to the desired carp but to an explosion of down and feathers — a drake mallard had picked up the luncheon meat from the lake bed and got hooked. It kited noisily to the right at high speed, crashed straight into a bankside willow and there became tethered in the low branches. Leaving the rod on the deck, I hand-lined my way to the unfortunate bird and by getting right in the thick of the willows branches and leaning out across the water eventually got the maddened creature in my grasp, flicked the hook out of its bill and threw it out clear of the branches to freedom.

Within just an hour the same bird and his gang were back in the shallow swim diving once again for scraps so I retired the carp rod and put all my energies into a change of swim and tried once again under the little overhanging bush where last time out I'd hooked a few half decent perch. Here I threw in some chopped worm and fished halved lobs just a foot from the bank in water eighteen inches deep.

I settled in but was then distracted by dark shapes in mid-water ghosting into view from the left — a small group of double figure carp. It was now half past three and the lake was coming alive with the activities of carp reacting to the height of the late afternoon peak in water surface warming. Fish were leaping and crashing just off the island and then an angler fishing to my right hooked and landed a twenty pounder, and then soon after another angler on the opposite side had a mid-double figure fish.

I fluffed a couple of bites to the margin rod but then the bites ceased completely. With my floats now motionless I gave myself over to scanning the water for the signs of carp as this was as active as carp had been since last autumn and was a sign of things really changing as spring kicked up a gear, and not to be missed.

As I sat there peacefully pondering my summer fishing plans in the warm sun I felt a wet, cold sensation at my right ear and heard a snuffling sound. I turned around to meet eye to pink eye, face to white face with a canine ghost who turned on his heels at the fright of it and raced off at high speed round the lake with the terrier in hot pursuit, his little legs a blur and both barking and yapping respectively, as they went

I was quite unperturbed by this too-close encounter, oddly enough!


  1. Steve in Colorado26 March 2011 at 02:21

    Right, well- you're one up in the challenge with a mallard point, eh?

  2. Indeed, but I failed to weigh it ! I'd guess they all weigh much the same though so I'll put in for three pounds...