I went fishing at the beginning of the week with the hope of making contact with a big commercial fishery perch.
I find these ‘commercial’ perch a really interesting challenge. In many ways they almost seem like a separate species to their clear water cousins. And while locating them in their murky home is key, I’ve found they’re nomadic creatures that often appear in numbers quite suddenly, only to frustratingly disappear almost as quickly as you find them.
The excellent Lake John fishery near Waltham Abbey has some nice perch in the top pool and one cold March afternoon a few years back I fished hard for a few hours, with only a few skimmers and roach to show before, suddenly, I took four perch over a pound-and-a-half in super-quick succession before they vanished.
A local pool that I’ve been targeting over the last year or so has a few resident shoals of perch that, again, seemingly appear from nowhere before disappearing equally as quickly during the course of a session.
After a decent three hour trip, right at the end of 2012 when I tempted two good perch and lost another, I returned for a short session at the beginning of March in conditions I was convinced would see a few fish turn up. Four hours later I returned home with an embarrassing blank to my name.
The perch on this lake have a distinct preference for the current commercial perch bait of choice, the king prawn. While I’ve taken the odd fish on maggot, I’ve only tempted roach on lobworms and the perch definitely favour a juicy, cooked crustacean.
After arriving at 3pm, I started on the wag and mag to see what was around. It was really tough and the wind was still bitter. Chatting to another chap who’d elected to fish the same pool, he revealed that he’d been on the lake all day with just one skimmer to show for his efforts. It wasn’t looking promising.
It took over an hour before a tiny roach made an appearance and by six o’clock I’d managed just a couple more little roach and a pair of skimmers.
I decided to go for broke and began feeding bits of broken prawn, keeping the maggot going in and resting the swim for 15 minutes or so.
By now the wind had at least dropped and most of the other anglers had gone home. I set up my float rig with a size 8 Drennan barbless specimen hook tied direct to the 3.2lbs line and impaled a prawn. It took me completely by surprise when almost immediately the float started rising dramatically before bobbing around restlessly. I resisted striking and soon the yellow tip vanished beneath the water.
I struck into the fish and the rod hooped round. The fight from the fish was strong and bold and it was a nerve-racking affair once that spiky dorsal appeared.
Luckily, it all went according to plan and I was soon staring at a two pound plus perch. I really thought this fish would trouble my personal best, but it came in an ounce short at 2lbs 6ozs – my second perch at this weight from the lake. It was a lovely big fish and I was delighted.
I soon had a bait back in the water and before long the float shot under and I hooked into a second, big perch.
This time the perch made a lunge for some near bank snags, I managed to steer it away and back into the open water when the hook pulled – damn!
And that was almost it. The perch had arrived abruptly and within 15 minutes disappeared again for the rest of the session.
But I fished on optimistically and when the float shot under again an hour later I thought the perch had reappeared. But this time it was obviously a carp that had found the prawn and two minutes into the tussle the hook pulled inexplicably, again.
At that point frustration was beginning to take over. I took a minute, checked the rig and cast out another prawn. Soon after, another sail away bite resulted in the rod taking on an alarming curve and the clutch on my little Drennan float reel being worked overtime as a good carp tore off. A lot of commercial perch anglers bemoan the carp that inevitably find their baits from time to time, but after a long cold winter in which any fish has been hard to come by, I was really enjoying the brutal tussle that ensued.
After well over five and probably nearer ten minutes I netted one of the most striking carp I’ve had in a while. It was an absolutely fin-perfect, golden common that weighed nine and a half pounds and literally lit up the drab evening.