Keith and I met up last night for a crack at the perch of Brookfields, a local commercial complex that is documented in match reports as containing four pounders. We've tried the particular pond that contains them, a pretty reed fringed water that would be an idyllic place if it were not for the proximity of the M6 motorway a number of times, but have yet to catch a single perch over a pound, between us.
We set up in one corner away from a brisk wind and I chose to fish at right angles to a long reed bed that runs along an out-of-bounds bank under a low power line. As usual my bait was lobworms but Keith had elected to try raw prawns and a float-fished sprat dead-bait. I'd brought along a pint of red maggots to spray over the worms, 'little and often' throughout the session to bring in the silver fish who would then, hopefully, draw the attention of the big perch.
The drop-off from the reed bed was a sharp one with the water shelving away from two feet six inches to a depth of five feet plus at just a yard or two out - it was rather like the profile of a canal in fact. I put one bait in the deeper water and one up on top of the shelf. The shelf bait had been in the water for seconds when it nipped under and a feisty half pound rudd came to the net - I fancied it thad taken the bait on the drop.
This was good news as my back up plan for the afternoon was to target rudd as well as the perch if they were feeding strongly because last year on the late evening of a summer session I had encountered a small shoal of surface feeding fish that were either, a. large rudd, or b. small carp - fish that had taken a liking for scraps of bread crust that I had thrown out front but that I failed to catch and confirm at the time, them being so sharp witted and time being against me.
I did catch plenty of small rudd at that time but nothing larger than a few ounces so this half pound fish was an encouragement pointing in the right direction as any large rudd are very hard to find round these parts, so I carried on with the worm fished hard on the bottom for some time with patchy success catching only a number of small rudd, a roach hybrid type fish that wasn't quite right - a fish that I suspect was actually an ide, some gudgeon and a number of greedy little perch.
Keith, on the other hand was busy landing the bream who'd fallen in love with this prawns, one of whom did a passable but fleeting impression of a big perch with its green colouration...
After a number of hours of continual feeding of maggots in small quantities every five minutes or so, I then noticed some rather large boils on the surface a few seconds after the bait had landed on the water indicating that a few larger fish had moved in and were intercepting the falling grubs near the surface, so I immediately shortened up the rig to fish three feet deep with a dropper shot half way down between float and hook.
The first fish was a ten ounce rudd which was even better news, so I upped the feed rate to five grubs every cast which had the effect of creating a feeding frenzy with the water boiling regularly. The bites were still very hard to hit so after persisting with this rig for a while I decided to dispense with the the dropper shot entirely, shorten up to just a foot and this had the effect of meeting the fish at precisely the right depth and producing extremely positive bites. I then had a string of good fish comprising of half pound rudd and roach and another of those ide like creatures, but unfortunately no larger rudd specimens.
You know summer is here not when the baa-lambs are frolicking in the fields, but when fish come up to the top to feed, compete and stay there. This means the water has warmed to the optimum point where the ever rising averages of ambient air temperatures ensure that it will rarely, if ever fall below that point again till Autumn - the fish equivalent of us shedding our layers till there comes a day when we walk around in shirtsleeves the whole of the time.
Unfortunately, we had to pack up earlier than we'd planned for when the bailiff informed us that the fishery gates would be locked at just seven-thirty (an hour before dusk..?!?) and just as I'd got the swim alive with fish and was in with a chance at something good as the light faded...
We wound up making a trip to one of the local free ponds for a last gasp hour after a perch there but failed to make an impression, though we did see some very interesting bubbles that may well have been created by a tench feeding right over my chopped worm, so I'll be back there one misty morning later in the year after them.