Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Canal Perch — Signal Success

There's a popular stretch of canal way beyond walking distance from home where I'd heard a few independant reports of decent perch fishing. Lots of them available apparently. And the occasional specimen in the net, so I heard. Local news I always take with a hefty pinch of salt. But large perch reports are not like large roach reports which are invariably about hybrids mistaken for roach. I thought them strong enough to make it worthwhile biking out a few extra miles to investigate. 

Canal ruffe
Chopped worm is mucky stuff!
Glad I made the effort because the short session was to become rather fascinating...

Choosing a likely spot I sat down on the grass with whip in hand. Nipped on a worm and dropped it on the near shelf. And then proceeded to make chopped worm. I don't move a bait so very often with a rod and reel once in place but for some reason with a pole or whip I find myself jerking it about constantly. 

Frequently I'd snag upon something. And I was frequently snagging upon something all over the place. The hook always came back clean, but often the worm had gone. Curious. Very curious...

I kept twitching the bait about. Then I did snag a large twig so I thought I had a rotten branch out front and should probably move along elsewhere. 

But then one of these 'twigs' moved off at the 'brisk' pace of a very big and determined specimen of that carapaced pest that I'm seeing far too much of lately. Heavy is what it was. And deliberate. I could not easily shift it against the elastic but anyhow, the hook pinged out before I could try harder. 

No great loss there. A large 'signal' is hardly that!

A River Blythe signal crayfish with a claw span of about a foot

However. Despite having not only a branch in my swim but possibly a horde of crustaceans too, I couldn't help feeling that something was not quite right. Often these sensations of 'snagging' felt much like hits from predatory fish. And besides that, I've yet to see a canal crayfish anywhere near the scale of the lobster-like beasts of the River Blythe who grow twice the size of the average canal specimen and who would be resistant to being hauled off the deck on a whip.

So I stuck around a while just to see what might occur should I...

Introducing the chop and fishing straight over with a still bait, the response was instant. The float dragged under very slowly and I struck into another of those 'crayfish'. Only this one seemed just a tad faster than before and when it began swimming mid-water, pulled out a yard of elastic, and then fought back hard and fast I wondered what the hell I'd hooked because it sure didn't feel like a perch... 

But it was! 

Canal perch of 2lb 6oz

Two-pounds and six-ounces of perch to be precise. Easily the largest I've ever caught from a canal. And I have no doubt whatsoever now that that first 'crayfish' was none other than the self-same fish or more likely its like-sized shoal companion. 

Clearly I'd sat down right on top of them. Of course I hoped for more and better but in hindsight I should never have put in the chop because I truly believe you should never feed over the lucky find of a shoal of already feeding fish till they won't bite again without it. If only I'd known better, All it achieved was the undesirable effect of drawing hordes of small perchlets, tiny zanderlings, and later lovely little yellow ruffes, of whom I had four specimens on the trot around dusk.

Nevertheless. A more than satisfactory result. A new personal best for the canal. An interesting and valuable lesson learned.

And no red signal to halt me on the track when I go back! 


  1. Well done to you Jeff. I know how long you've wanted that canal 2lber. I waited a long time for my first one too. Now they pop up when least expected!

    1. The best prior to this was 1lb 12oz from many miles away, Russel, and myself the guest of Danny Everitt fishing one of his old favourite swims. Locally my best was just 1lb 7oz. They don't get very large near to home and if they did I'd get to hear about it. I don't mind the slog to get so far out if they come at this size. I've heard good chub reports from the same stretch too so that's a bonus.

    2. I've never got anywhere near that size on the cut, but then not really fished for them. All the ones I've had have been washed out because of the clarity of the water I suppose and because of that it's never really appealed to me to target them as the river fish look so more vibrant. However that one has proper defined and contrasting stripes and bright red fins, that's a cracker Jeff, nice one. Bet your itching to go back.

      That crayfish looked like it would make a nice meal, they seem everywhere now :(

    3. I ate one the other day, Mick. Dominic stomped on it so I took it home and cooked it. Very nice. Delicate and lobster sweet. Not at all like those stringy crayfish tails you used to get in supermarkets.

      And the perch was quite colourful for such a murky water. Not nearly so vibrant as Avon fish who seem to glow but quite attractive.

  2. Congratulations there in the end!

  3. Indeed, George. I reckon I deserved the long awaited putting-to-bed of my long standing perch 'problem' with one well above the Hatt Standard!