Perch fishing – getting closer

I spent a lovely birthday afternoon fishing the perch pool last week. The weather was bordering on pleasant considering the time of year – I didn’t even need to remove my coat from the bag.

I managed around 15 big skimmers and bream, a couple of good roach and even a stunning little ghost carp as well as three of my target species – perch – all on float fished prawns.

A handsome little ghost carp
A handsome little ghost carp

The icing on the cake came after I’d rested the swim following a frantic bream feeding spell at the end of the day. With just three king prawns left, I picked out the biggest and positioned it slightly closer in.

After a short wait the float sailed away and upon striking I knew I’d hit into my target, finally, a big perch.

It was a nerve-racking couple of minutes, but everything held and I was soon admiring a stunning, deep shouldered fish weighing in at 2lbs 8ozs. A new personal best by all of 1oz. Awesome!

A new personal best perch of 2lbs 8ozs - lovely fish
A new personal best perch of 2lbs 8ozs – lovely fish

Perch fishing – the madness of King Prawns

Finally, a clear day with a bit of sunshine and mild temperatures made an appearance in south Wales at the tail-end of the Christmas break. Of course the Wye had burst its banks by this point and I doubt even the sacred Garlic Spam would have produced a bite for anyone mad enough to even go near the river.

Chepstow Bridge at high tide during the flood
The Wye at Chepstow Bridge during the flood

So it was off to the same commercial pool I’d fished a few weeks previously for an afternoon session in search of perch.

With it being a better day than anything we’d had over Christmas, there were inevitably quite a few other people on the lake when I arrived just after lunch. I decided to set up on one of the quieter pools and try a little maggot feeder in an attempt to work the silver fish up before swapping to a prawn to try and tempt a stripy. If it was quiet I planned to move to the busier pool and find a spot to sit it out with the bigger baits into dusk.

The wind was quite lively as I set up, which I why I’d decided to start with the feeder. Soon enough little roach and rudd were falling to the maggots and each cast would result in sharp plucks and pulls from the little fish.

I tied on a larger hook and impaled a king prawn – and then sat watching a motionless tip for an hour and a half.

It was during this quiet period that I began to reflect on the slightly bonkers scenario playing out before me. Here I was, chucking king prawns into a muddy pond nearly 6,000 miles from where they’d been produced – an equally muddy pond in Thailand – in order to feed a few picky perch. It’s certainly a very different state of affairs compared to even ten years ago, when the staple approach to perch fishing would revolve around using maggots bred locally or worms collected from the garden.

A Thai commercial (prawn) fishery
A Thai commercial (prawn) fishery
A Welsh commercial fishery
A Welsh commercial fishery

Okay, so intensive farming is hardly anything new. But some of the practices and the environmental impact involved in the mass production of prawns, and indeed the fishmeal used to feed the prawns and boost our pellets and boilies, are alarming. Food for thought at very least.

At around 2pm I decided to move to the bigger lake which holds a good head of nice perch. I moved to a quieter bay area just as the wind dropped and the sun came out. As I set up my float rod and settled into the swim, it actually felt quite pleasant in the warm late afternoon sun. The bay is an interesting area in that it doesn’t have any of the more obvious features found on other parts of the pool, but with a good depth close in and, perhaps most importantly, a distinct shelf in one area, it’s always looked like a good spot to ambush the perch.

I decided to scale down the hook from my usual size 8 to a size 12 and use smaller sections of king prawn float fished at the bottom of the shelf, feeding a small amount of red maggots every couple of minutes.

After maybe an hour, I knew the perch had moved in. When using prawn baits, I’ve found the perch tend to almost ‘play’ with them, before one of the fish eventually takes the bait. The float bobs, twitches and trembles as the fish play with the bait below. I’ve found it can often be a few minutes before the float eventually goes under properly and a fish is hooked.

On this occasion it was a good minute or so before the float dragged under and a fish was hooked. I knew immediately it was my target – heavy head shakes and firm resistance but without the explosive run of a carp.

It felt a decent fish and I played it carefully. But it all went to plan and I was soon looking at a short, solid fish that looked like it was over two pounds.

2lbs 3oz perch
2lbs 3oz perch

And indeed it was – 2lbs 3ozs of perch perfection. I took a few snaps and released him back into the cold water. Around 20 minutes later the same thing happened. The float started dithering impatiently and after a minute or so, finally disappeared.

Again, the culprit was clear – another good perch.  I soon had the fish in the net, weighing in at two pounds exactly this time. A brace of two pound perch is a very good day in my book.

And that, inevitably, was that.