“He’s killing us, one at a time.” – The words of Arnie (as Dutch) in the 1987 classic, Predator. But they could equally have been the thoughts of a particularly nervous roach shoal I found in a shady pool on my first ever visit to the Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire last week.
Perhaps it was because I’d been watching the former Governor of California fighting a giant alien just a few days previously, but I just had a feeling there really was something out there as a friend and I passed the pool.
We initially headed for the oxygenated water downstream of a tumbling weir. But without shade and with the midday sun burning strong, it wasn’t long until I wandered off to find a cooler area to have a cast. After a pleasant hour or two float fishing maggots for some little bleak, dace and roach, I made my way to a chubby looking backwater I’d noticed earlier.
I stopped at the shaded roach pool again. But this time something told me to stick around.
On second glance, the pool looked perfect for a perch. The deep water close in was flanked to my right by a lovely bed of rushes that looked the ideal spot for marauding Perca fluviatus. And it was full of little roach and bleak – ideal snacks for a big Billy!
I set up a light barbel rod and floatfished lobs tight to the rushes. First run down and the float buried. After a short tussle, I soon had the upper hand on what was a decent perch and lifted it towards the net. And that’s when I saw him. A big perch suddenly appeared; easily three times bigger than the fish I was playing. For a second I thought he may have been eyeing the smaller, hooked fish for his dinner.
I couldn’t get another bait out quickly enough. And as I worked the float down the nearside run, until it was just kissing the rushes, it buried again.
It was him. An altogether more aggressive scrap began, with plenty of violent head shaking and nerve-shredding runs into previously unseen beds of blanket weed. As I began to get the upper hand, he then made a charge for some cabbages under my feet. But everything held and I got him in the net on the second attempt.
Okay, so comparing a Great Ouse perch with one of the baddest baddies in film history may be overplaying it a little, but there really was something quite mean and magnificent about this battle scarred old predator. He was a dark, angry chap and weighed 2lbs 7ozs, a new PB by four ounces!