Monday, 5 November 2012

Canal Perch — The Crack of Dawn

She may well have gone by the name of 'Dawn' for all we knew. We didn't enquire and she didn't offer. Driving down the deserted A road for an early morning start after perch at a local canal venue a figure runs straight into the road in front of us whose wildly waving arms implore us to stop. It could have been an overturned car in a ditch or who knows what kind of disaster just happened or is happening now. Danny pulls the big van over hard, the tackle in the cavernous back slides and shunts into the bulkhead, and we grind to a halt thirty yards down the road.

Opening the passenger door a girl in her twenties distraught and frantic approaches. She's disheveled, weeping and shivering in the icy cold of pre-dawn and when she reaches the door we learn the 'truth' of The Matter.

"I've been raped by two men" she splutters, "please take me to Coventry," she implores, and before we know what's what, she's in the front seat alongside me...

"Whereabouts in Coventry?" I enquire,

"Hillfields, please..."

Say no more! And we don't really want to...

It takes just seconds to make judgements about what actually might have happened. She's clearly a drug user and has that unmistakable look of either crack-head, a junkie, or both. I try to make light of things with small talk but in just a minute or two she's stopped her sobbing and starts nodding into her own lap. Danny is grim faced clutching the wheel tightly as we detour back to the heart of the City, and to one of its lowest places — the red light district.

He's in fear of a 'tug,' of having us both detained against all luck, and suspected by the rozzers as a couple of her 'johns.'

An 'interesting' start to a day's perch fishing we think. But only after decanting our human cargo back whence she came was that true— till then we were aghast!

Danny assures me that I'm going to break that perch hex of mine and we sit down to enjoy the chilly morning flicking lobworms into the cut. An hour passes with just a single dip of my float but an hour more before it slides away and I'm into the first perch of the day; an encouraging fish of a pound or so. The water is icy and my hands freezing cold after sliding it into the essential keep net. Then it starts to rain...

Luckily Danny has a brolly which becomes camp till it's passed by. Another perch is hooked but this one fights back hard. It's a new personal best canal perch for me so the 'hex,' as Danny assured it would be, is broken. Danny hasn't had a perch bite yet but his zander float is soon toodling about in typical zander fashion. He times his strike, hits a fish, but it's a jack pike not a zed, which is actually a surprise because they don't turn up very often when fishing canals for zander.

The rain is fast becoming a pain and we're both loathe to venture outside the shelter. The perch still come every now and then but processing them is actually painful! Nevertheless, a good netful accumulates through the morning and Danny receives plenty of runs. Most are missed on the strike or bumped which is also par for the course with zeds them being legendarily difficult to hook or keep on the hook when they are.

The rain is becoming a bloody nightmare. It's been solid now for hours on end and things are getting uncomfortable, and then Andy Lewis turns up toting a spinning rod! Danny spots a snowflake, and sure enough it's sleeting out there. It's absolutely filthy weather outside but Andy sits on a mat outside in his waterproofs! There's no room at all under the brolly...

The rain actually stops us packing down and we wait on for that break the weatherman predicted for 10 O'clock. It's an hour past noon before it finally does by which time the cold is getting into my bones. When we do start packing away then Danny gets a run which produces the 'only' zander of the day, but he chucks the bait back to the same spot and then has a second! All morning long without one and then two on the bank in the last few minutes...

At least with the clearance of the freezing rain and sleet we can have fun with the pictures, an operation which we were both dreading should it not. Danny made a pro job of those even employing crafty rearrangements of bits of the odd detritus always seen along the cuts that I call 'canal furniture'! So good are they and such a dearth I've had recently in the way of fishy pics that I'm going on a blow out...

A tough day when the fish were obliging only every now and then but by the end we'd done exceptionally well given the absolutely atrocious conditions, but it would have been far, far warmer down the station, under interrogation, sipping hot tea! 


  1. Well done mate ! How big was your biggest one ? You have waited a while to get over 1.8. Good job.

  2. I see you held back a little on the title then. A good choice I think! as some of the ideas were a little close to the bone.

    The pictures did come out well didn't they.
    I do hope the Idlers quest xmas card this year will be a homage to Leonardo's last supper fresco. You and the perch centre, Judy next to you as Mary Magdalene and a few diciples to make up the numbers. I feel sure Dawn might be in the picture if you wanted! Though it might cost at least a tenner

  3. Well Jeff that was a bit of a tale and I'm sure it gave rise to many different title ideas when penning this post. I bet it was with some trepidation that you made your way to the redlight district.

    Some lovely Perch there what size were the largest two that you caught?

  4. Lovely bag of Stripey Normans there Mr Hatt.

  5. Jeff, I've often dreamt about days like yours...but never both events in the same dream! Great catch, btw, re you going to share the p.b. weight with us, we're dying to know?

  6. Jeff, a bit like that " crucian" I caught a long time ago now. Until I had another decent one I was never quite contented.
    You can satify yourself ( careful) with the knowledge that all those fish are yours. Nice one mate, well angled.

  7. I remember in my youth walking leaving the Colosseum nightclub, walking through Hillfields and being propositioned by a couple of ladies of the night who were watching fireman putting out a fire in one of the flats.

    Onwards I went to my friends at Craven street, only to stumble upon another fire engine putting out a fire in a small caravan that was opposite his house.


  8. Nice catch of canal perch - worth the wait!

  9. Just under two pounds, which was an improvement on my measly one-seven canal best. Great day out, and for all the right reasons. The beginnings were a blog in themselves, the weather was too, the fishing was almost a sideshow but we had a right laugh surviving it!

  10. Nice fishing Jeff, a great net of cut Perch there.

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  12. Alright there Jeff, a fantastic bag of perch there and great photos to boot, is a 3lb perch the next step?? Well done though on them stripeys

  13. Well I know that's what Danny's after James, I'm just glad to get past the pound and a half on a canal! I'll settle for a couple of two's next time...

  14. "Red (Light District) Letter Day"

    "The Pro and Cons of Perch Fishing"

    I'll get me coat.