Monday, 8 April 2013

Commercial Perch — The Effing Difference

The venue? A local lake and one of the most pleasant 'commercials' I know of. Neat, tidy and very well run by a stickler for good behaviour who ejects miscreant breakers of the tight rules governing his domain; consequently there weren't any so we'd the place to ourselves. The weather? Finest of the year thus far and possibly the finest in recent angling memory: neither warm nor cold, hardly any wind driving what little chill remained made for very pleasant fishing. The target? The outside chance of a big close season perch.

A self-confessed biteaholic, I enjoy bites as a drug I cannot get enough of — demand usually exceeding supply. In the morning supply was meagre and I feared a day long dearth of them. The waggler and a laid on worm may be perfect for perch when you waiting about for ages between bites because it's a lazy form that doesn't demand full attention— but when supply exceeded demand as it did when I moved to a second choice swim, began fishing prawn but failed to hook up... naturally I then shifted over to the junkie roach angler's float kit of choice.

Out with the waggler and in with the antennae, a single shot nipped just an inch from the hook and the bulk hung two thirds down the line. Where the waggler had settled, bobbled indecisively but refused to sink away, there's never any waiting around for decisions with this rig. Immediately it began to dance as fish investigated the bait, shot in the air whenever they took it and sank back down when ejected a second later. From then on in I was strung out on the heady intoxication of my drug of first choice...

I forgot all about perch — they'd arrive sooner or later attracted to the commotion of a roach shoal greedily devouring particles of mashed prawn ground bait.  I kept the bait on the large side for when they came by and kept the size 8 barbless hook to suit which had the inevitable effect of producing many missed bites. Nevertheless, whenever the larger fish got in first they were hooked and banked, and though they weren't getting any larger than 12oz, there were enough of them to keep me entertained.

Then at last I knew I had either a big roach or more likely the first perch of the day to contend with. It got itself under the reeds and stuck fast so the net was thrust under and scooped up, the fish in it. A perch after all.

Anyone who knows me knows I have a sticky problem with perch. My bête noire and bugbear, all around me anglers grow bored by an endless succession of two-pounders while I simply cannot catch them over a pound and a half. Once again, a fish below my glass ceiling. One-pound six and a half ounces...

Then Martin had one too. Of course it was going to be a two-pounder or better that was certain. As always my black beast proved true to its word...

Another two pounder I didn't catch...!

Late afternoon my roach vanished and in came a succession of small perch who'd probably bullied them out the way. I hoped that chomping on the tail of the little fellas would be one of the lake's plump hen lumps — maybe even that amazing fish that Danny Everitt once had... but what I didn't expect was that later in the day I'd actually catch it!

First though came an oddball — a brown goldfish more fin than fish.

I don't know how such silly droopy paddles pushed enough water about to propel it forwards so strongly, but they did! Only about a pound in weight but it fought so hard I really did think for a moment I'd hooked a proper perch for once. On the bank though, it was as well behaved as a crucian and lay there as calm as you like quite unconcerned about what must seem to fish, their imminent extinction.

Then at last I had a perch that I knew would crack the glass if it wouldn't quite smash through. Believe it or not I was willing the pointer down the scale and was mightily impressed when it bottomed out just over — by a single ounce!

I couldn't fail now that I'd finally passed the dreaded one-eight unassisted by fluke or guide. Seriously, I've only ever taken perch larger by being sat down in front of better or by accidental happenchance. It makes no sense — there's no great skill required in catching big perch or any perch, in fact it ranks as possibly the least skillful fishing I know of. What's there to do? Put a big worm or fat prawn in front of one and it's in the bag.

Your bag that is, not mine...

Then of course, sharpening the pointy stick of that fact and ramming it right between my eyes, Martin takes another two-pounder...

Strewth! Sometimes in fishing there's no escaping the fact that it's not about luck but judgement. Clearly I'm doing something ineffably wrong and everyone else is doing something effably right.

What's the effing difference though?

Buggered if I know!

But then, at the very last, I finally hooked Danny's plump lump...

Plunging about the tree roots coming dangerously close to freeing itself once or twice but after a couple of minutes of ding dong jeopardy and scary high jinks, sliding safely over the rim of the net — his remarkable fish was in my bag!


'Crucian in a halloween costume' It was one and the same! 

Now, you didn't think I'd actually hooked a big perch did you?

No, extra pounds can wait — I'd finally gained that crucial ounce and was more than happy to settle for it, because what it makes to me...

Is all the effing difference in the world...!


  1. Jeff
    where have you been ? It's been that long since your last blog,i thought you'd taken up golf or something lol.
    I thought you may have been on the cut this weekend now that the ice is gone and temperatures are the right side of 0.I'm back at work as you know,so fishing time has been at a premium of late,but i'm hoping to wet a line this weekend or next (note to self "renew rod licence")
    will be in touch mate,tight lines.


    1. Been caught up in work Norm, and walking almost as far every day as you do ! I've meant to get out on the canal and will this week because the weather is good for it, but tonight I'm sure cat ice was forming so we'll see...

  2. Well worth the wait - some lyrical lines there and a great report, by any chance have you recently acquired a new camera?

    1. No, it's the same one I've used last couple of years. Maybe it's the cut down version of photoshop I use for colour and contrast adjustments since I lost the full version in a crash that's altered them, or maybe just the fact that at last, there's a bit of colour in the atmosphere? I don't know what the difference is though — hope it's a good one!

  3. I think you went non-fishing Jeff, you certainly caught a couple of non-fish...and some perch. I can't claim a two pound perch either and have even started catching roach on lobbies now!

  4. It took a long time for one to come on worm didn't it? It's a slow bait for then though, and I haven't caught one single canal roach what seems like ages. Glad you've got ravens down your way too. but guess what, not only did I see an osprey fly by Saturday, but a peregrine on Sunday going north without flapping a wing, just circling and drifting, and today I found a woodcock tail feather...

    In central Coventry, in the precinct!

  5. I am going to ask the owner of that fishery if he would be willing to sell me that garish goldfish next time I catch it. Then I am going to keep it my garden pond until just before it's life force expires. Then I will knock it on the head and have it stuffed and cased. I reckon it would look superb mounted over my dining table with a brass plaque which reads 'Plump lump' ;)

  6. Dan, I dare not say how I misconstrued your last sentence at my first glance in a sleepy state but suffice to say that 'brass plaque' blended to make the word 'basque', the rest I will not share
    Sorry Jeff to abuse your blog in this manner.

    Jeff, That worm has been in the canal for 12 months and at last a roach or two have nibbled ;) As regards your recent birds of prey and woodcock - quite incredible, isn't it, how often supposedly unusual occurences crop-up?

  7. Those are fine looking scales Jeff. Antique or are they readily available?