Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Canal Perch — Chop! Chop! The King! The King!

I've seen a phenomenal thing. Mucky stuff chucked in a swim. The results are a particle, the captures remarkable. That mucky old stuff in a swim.

Chop! Chop! The King! The King!

Good grief I always knew it was very good but never realised how fabulous this filthy finger blackening mush could be. But I was about to see...

You get a load of expensive to procure lobworms (and I mean a fishing shed load). And they are expensive one way or the other whether you dig them or purchase if you are going down this route with them. Buy or create a set of multiple opposed blades. Then you must commit the most ghastly of murders.

Finding a likely swim you sit down, then ladle the mutilated, mangled, and still twitching body parts in. You proceed to wait just a little while. But within no time at all you proceed to reap the whirlwind of your horrible deed.

Nothing I have ever come across in my fishing life is anywhere near so repulsive. It is foul stuff. And yet nothing I have ever come across is so very attractive. Fish. All fish. No matter what fish or which fish. Just cannot resist it.

And then when you've got them interested. And caught one or two. You must do the dirty deed again. And again, And again. And do it again for just as long as your bait box lasts. And that will not be for very long.

Danny reckons, 'It's a drug'.

"To the fish and the fisher, both", I'd say.

We met up very early yesterday morning for a perching session at my far flung venue. The one that was kind to me a while back. The conditions were straight out the perch fisher's textbook 'wish' list. Mist on the water, sun low in the sky, a tinge of green but good clarity, and us fishing long before the first whiff of sizzling bacon drifts down from the nearby boats.

Didn't exactly succeed at first. Well, I excelled in catching each and every small perch in a mile of water. What with my pole n'all, I was so very adept at catching these tiddler fish that Danny thought me in very real danger of turning out in decked in blue within the week and forging a promising and lucrative career in match circles.

Just seconds after my remarking that we hadn't seen one yet — he caught a daddy ruffe. A great admirer of pope is Daniel Everitt, who once a year goes to Suffolk armed with suitable equipment to get his fix of monstrous ones. I think he was more impressed with my recent multiple captures of these pretty little ugly things than my success with the perch.

It wasn't really going to plan and so after a couple of hours we moved along. To a nice looking space between boats with an attractive water feature to ponder far bank. We were in for a rare treat.

1lb 14oz canal perch

I fed a little chop beneath the stern of a boat. Danny fed a fistful just off the near shelf in open water. I had a skimmer first put in. He'd sat upon what seemed a dead peg because my next put in produced a perch near two-pounds, and then another of similar stamp that was lost while his float steadfastly refused to sink from sight.

However, he'd injected a much heavier shot of 'gear' into the vein than I had...

Over the next hours Danny's synapses were on fire. He simply could not stop them coming. Just a short pole length to his left I was now facing a deserted swim ( canal 'swims' are just a yard square!) as all the dope heads in the area queued up in his. And what fish they were. All around the two-pound mark, and one an ounce over. And these weren't repeat captures either. Each was released 100 yards left or right.

It was quite unbelievable. But the best moment of the day was yet to come... 

He'd fished a sleeper rod with a small deadbait for zander and was getting quite a few of them as his perch sport peaked. Then he decided to jig a drop shot over a crayfish corpse he'd kicked in earlier just to complicate things. He then had a run on the deadbait, missed it, when his worm float vanished and he hooked what we knew was going to be the best perch yet. But somehow he'd also hooked himself in the crotch of his pants with the deadbait rig!

It really looked like it might go three-pounds as it came to the surface. And there's Dan gingerly playing the fish, not because he's afraid to lose it, but because he's in danger of spiking himself in the nads should he get off his seat! I performed the netting honours as instructed.

After such a run of like-weights who'd begun to look smaller and smaller as the day progressed I think we were a little overawed by the sight of this future brute. It wasn't quite the three-pounder we'd thought. It was the same weight as my opening capture last week at 2lb 6oz. But with a very different body shape.

The conditions were straight out of the perch fisher's textbook 'don't bother' list. Bright cloudless sky, sun overhead, the water as brown as bacon breakfast tea, and us fishing through lunchtime. Yet Dan hadn't ceased hooking, sometimes losing, but mostly banking these large perch for what seemed an age. I fluffed another fish meanwhile and did land a small zander of about a pound and a half on the worm. When I butchered and pitched in all my remaining meagre supply bar two kept back for bait, I hooked up again and banked myself an exact 'two'.

2lb canal perch

By noon it was becoming very busy. By 1 O'clock a chain of boats passing through every few minutes with passers-by a constant stream behind us. "Caught much?" many would ask. "Yeah, we've had a few tiddlers", was Danny's deadpan repeat reply. And the more often repeated the more comical that phrase became.

We'd both overstayed our allotted time frames by two hours. Then he had the shock result of a half-pounder... Things were coming to a close! But I'm sure if we'd stayed on into the late afternoon and evening we'd have caught all day long. We finished with eleven perch between us. If I'd dug another fifty worms and slaughtered most, then it may well have been twenty or more.

I didn't mind one little bit my banking only two good fish when Danny had nine. It was a great day's sport and a session to remember for the rest of my life.  In my canal fishing experience it has to rank in the top three eye-openers. Those sessions when you realise that these tricky venues where many struggle to succeed are often stuffed with special fish that you can catch regularly if only you have the guts to put in the graft to firstly discover them, and the nous to figure how to.

My mind was agog at the sheer volume of large perch we'd sat down on. You have to understand that prior to this season the average catch of perch local to me would have amounted to a sum weight of two or three-pounds and the best specimen I'd ever caught just 1lb 7oz. Today I'd seen ten perch to beat that and had exceeded it twice myself. And if you know anything about my perch fishing history and its painful perplexing defeats then you'll know why this session will be such a memorable one.

Perhaps the best feeling was that of knowing that the next bite would be from a really worthwhile fish. Seemingly, there were no small ones there to catch. But nor were there any really impressive ones.

Of course all that will change by next weekend when we plan a return.

But for better or for worse...? 

We'll, I don't think either of us really care, either way. Canal fishing is never so predictable. The next day seldom the same as the last.  


  1. I told you! Once you get your first canal 2, they'll keep on comin'...

  2. When you know they're there it makes all the difference in the world to your luck! Before last week I would have thought a two-pound perch coming along one of those freak captures canals are famous for. Now I think a four-pounder might be that.

    1. Sounds like a great day for you and Danny, Jeff,top read too. Shame the river isn't coloured because I've a banker swim of mine where as soon as it is they are usually there, in numbers too, and a stamp similar to your canal hot spot.

      I usually buy my lobs off the net, 16 quid for a 100 though, they ain't cheap, I've tried a nighttime torch raid on the local cricket pitch but considering the effort I put it, pretty naff returns. They are a wonder bait though, no doubting that.

      Anyway, I'm sure a 3lber is only a matter of time, get back out there.

    2. And 100 lobs don't really go very far do they. If you're on a few decent fish, you could use three times that!

    3. I dig mine. 100 is backbreaking work. 300 would be possible, but I would not be able to fish for days after!

      Chop is plain beautiful. But like all drugs, costly.

  3. I've read this twice and lived it once and it still seems a bit staggering. After seeing all those beasties I a sure there is something really big around!!!
    Although I do need to correct you on your numbers Jeff. Of the eleven big perch we landed I caught seven and you caught four mate. Saying that I could see why you would be confused as in my head its a blur of big stripy flanks.

  4. In my head it's like the morning after the pub crawl the night before. You know roughly what went on, but none of it quite joins up. Seriously great day, Dan. Really enjoyable and terrific fun.

    I'll allow three perch. I just based my numbers on the two pics on my camera. I simply cannot for the life of me remember exactly what happened, when it happened, or why! It was a fantastic blur of non stop fish filled madness!

    My account is just a tale.

  5. Edward Scissorhands needed here....

  6. Fantastic Jeff!, I'm glad you managed to snare a 2lber!, rare down here on the canals, If I was a betting man I'd say a couple in the miles of our canal systems, I wouldn't like to devote time in finding one as it would be almost an impossible task.

  7. Chop a thousand worms, pitch them in one night, and you'll have every perch in a couple of miles queuing up and begging for more! And carp, bream, whatever...

    If you come up here this winter I'll put you on 'em, James. Bring a ton of worms to chop. That's what they like.

    1. Worked pretty well down the Avon this morning, had some nice perch. Low, clear awful perch conditions but chopped a load of lobs in a vacant swim, left it for an hour and then they appeared.

  8. Its a sure fire fish attractor, of that is no doubt. Have used it many a time on my local canal (the Kennet & Avon) but mainly on the little and often feeding strategy. Dumping a load in straight off is an open invitation for every crayfish in the vicinity to park themselves in the swim!..grrrr

    Had better results on the Thames though, but due to the depth i usually feed the worms via balls of molehill soil. Probulary an attractor in itself though

    Great blogging as usual Jeff, tight lines.

  9. My mate, Norm, advised molehill soil. I should use it because the worms I dig come from a Victorian dump and what they process is black sooty soil that stains the hands. He also adds a secret ingredient that also stains the hands — bright red!

    It does bring the crays in droves. I've found that out when the larger perch aren't about they aren't afraid of the tiddlers it attrracts. This day we only saw the one, but in the week prior i did fish a couple of times and had loads of the sods.