Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Canal Zander & Perch — A Turn for the Worse

The Avon was as clear as I have ever seen it be. Chalk stream clear is what it was, but that's not a good thing in a mud stream, let me tell you. What we Midlanders want, is 'a nice tinge of green'. It's what we'd engineer for every fishing day if only we could control the weather. But we can't. 

Meat to the left of me, dead bait to the right
Martin and yours truly were to fish a new stretch. Well, it was for me. I think he's fished it once before. Anyhow, he cleaned up and beat into the weeds not only myself but the ten or twelve anglers taking part in a Saturday morning match. He should have taken part. His chop fuelled perch catch would have paid for the journey there and back, and his costly bait too.

He'd fished a swim I'd occupied earlier for barbel and predators. Then trotted worm over chop introduced via  bait dropper. He had a nice catch totalling about seven or eight pounds, with the best fish going 1lb 14oz. Chopped worm, you see. He did advise a lady competitor to go about things the same way before the whistle. She ignored him. And struggled.

I struggled too. Had a small chub and a few gudgeon on bread when I finally tired of the motionless heavy rods. But really it was quite hopeless. 

C'mon you buggers!

We'd fished the previous night for zander elsewhere. I had two runs after dark, hooked and lost the first to the left-hander toting a conventional wide gape 'J' hook but banked the second to the right-hander which turned out to be a very hard fighting pike of about three-pounds weight. Very cleanly hooked by the circle pattern, and I was very impressed. 

So I thought I'd pursue my experiments with the very same rig, but in a canal...

My theory was that I should hang a bobbin on the line to give a zander enough slack to get the slice of skimmer in, allow it to take up line against a heavy lead, and then hook itself against its weight. The sign of which would be the fish pulling the rod in the water. I'd left my bobbins at home so a broken stick was pressed into service. A bobbin is a bobbin after all.

Waiting for the proof of the effectiveness of my cunning plan, meanwhile I fished for perch on a short pole. But I hadn't bargained with the weather... 

Just as soon as I'd fed the swim, the heavens opened and the rain fell in bucket loads. 

It fell hard for an hour or more in which time I didn't get a touch. My trusty old cagoule that's always stuffed into the side-pocket in case of emergencies failed me. When new it helped me enjoy a force six storm way out in the Bristol channel and has saved me from a drenching on many unforeseen downpours since. Clearly knackered. It was now taking on water.

The rain didn't look like abating any time soon I thought of going home while I was still warm. Just as I prepared to, the zander rod laying on the grass bucked as a fish tried to pull it in. I wound down gently, took up the fight, and then teased in what I'd set out for. 

The rig had worked just how I'd imagined it would and the hook was set perfectly.

A lady from a nearby boat passed by in a bright orange cagoule that wasn't taking on water. Though it was hammering down she stopped in her tracks. Had always believed the canal had nothing whatsoever living in it, thought it astonishing that it should, and was dumbstruck by the evidence that it did. She was simply amazed by this fish. Its pristine beauty impressed her. Easy for us anglers to forget such important things in the pursuit of size and number...

Though she did ask in parting if they grew any larger! 

Briefly the rain eased off when the perch float dragged under very slowly and I hooked what had to be another of those nice fat ones I've seen so much of recently. And sure enough, it was another two-pounder. Just as I thought it might be.

But then things really did take a turn for the worse. And so I scarpered...


  1. Warks Avon 3lber in the Mail this week; did you see it?

    1. No I haven't. Couple of years ago we fished a stretch where we were told by the bailiff of the club who fished the opposite bank that five pounders were recorded in separate matches a year apart. You might think that nonsense, but I tell you, the swim they were reported from was a corker of a perch swim with big back eddies both sides. I did try once or twice and did catch plenty of pounders one night. I still believe that swim could produce the goods. Pity it's now a syndicate water and the club opposite of the dead man's shoes kind.

    2. Baz had a 3 from the avon on Saturday

    3. You know I've mentioned it before that the perch potential of the Avon is definitely a fair bit higher than people might imagine. A five wouldn't surprise me. I know of a 3-10 that came out in the height of this summer just gone and would surely be 4lb+ early next year when it peaks in weight.

      Nice run of twos by the way Jeff. Like buses as they say ...

    4. I don't doubt it, Sean. I saw a very big corpse at Saxon Mill once. Now that I've got my eye in with two pounders it had to have been double the size, though I had it down as three pounds beforehand.

  2. blue background made that perch shine jeff

    1. Yeah, it brings out the colours doesn't it?

    2. I'll take along a portable blue backdrop next time we go a'perching!

  3. Nothing better than a big Perch is there, such a proud looking fish.

  4. Just reading up on your post Jeff, nice going and you're not wrong about gin clear, my father and I fished the Warks Avon last week on a short break down your way and found it as clear as some parts of the upper loddon can be,I really enjoyed the fishing although the high pressure conditions and clarity made things interesting, the river left a lasting imprint, so much so I didn't really wish to leave. Regarding the Perch, I got chatting to a chap who kindly showed me a photo album of some of his Avon captures and it included a couple of 4s, these were amongst pictures of fish over 3lb too.

    1. I heard you made a visit, Mark. Shame you came when the river was so very low and clear. That is very unusual indeed. Yes, the reports of big perch are really flowing in this year. Maybe there's a peak coming?