A 3lb River Perch
A perch of 2lb can be classed as a good specimen, but a 3lb perch? Now thats a cracking specimen!! Eddie Cardus
|Saturday 15th October 2005 was a brilliantly sunny afternoon, which was more akin to August than October. I had travelled my standard (minimum) 35 miles to go fishing! This day I should have been after pike on the canal, but on arrival I found that my wire traces had been left at home, so an attempt at Perch with float fished worm it would have to be.|
I set up with a standard canal float, a slim lightweight waggler, minimum dropper shot but with slightly heavier than usual (5lb) mainline and 4lb Hi Tec hooklength. Dendra's and lobs were all I had for bait, so having chopped a few up and fired some near to a moored boat on the far side, I made my first cast.
I arranged a few bits and pieces around me, put the arms of my net into the spreader when a 'crack' told me that something was not well, indeed I had fractured one of the arms, another £ 40 down the drain I thought, tough titty, carry on with a wobbly net I did. Then I looked up, realised I couldn't see the float, struck, hooked a fish, which put a proper bend in my rod, got it half way across the canal, then it came off, 'Oh bo**ocks'!
As I was re-baiting a boat came past, with a friendly 'Captain Birds Eye' character at the helm,
"Hello" he said,
I nodded, and smiled, then along came another boat, and another, and another.... five boats later my friendly nod had turned into my best Francis 'Trainspotting' Begbie glare, my smile more likened to a deaths head grimace. About 10 minutes later I made my second cast, I had about 4 minutes undisturbed fishing before the next armada came through.
After ten minutes or so undisturbed fishing, fish would come on to my bait, roach and small perch at first, but then a few knocking 6oz made an appearance, then a stream of boats would kill sport for another spell, and so it went on.
Then came the walkers, not in their ones and twos, but a procession that went on for about 2-300 yards, seemingly every other one asking what I had caught, what fish were in here, how big do they grow? After repeating myself 4 or 5 times I put on my best 'grumpy bas*ard' face and stirred, rigid, blinkered, at the float.
A couple of hook links lost to snags and soon I was that pi**ed off, I contemplated packing up and going home, however I hoped that with tea time approaching Birds Eye and his mates would be shortly tucking into their real cod fish fingers leaving me in peace! Wrong. The next one along was a boat full of young lads on the p*ss, one stood on the roof of the barge hula-hooping a life ring around his waist. Oh FFS!
At about 4pm it did go somewhat quieter, I had started to fish half a lobworm and had been missing a stream of bites, probably from small fish, when at 4.30 I hit something that literally doubled the rod! Nervously looking to the left and right I wrestled with this, as yet, unseen beast. I gained line then had 30 yards or more stripped off, I managed to keep it free from the far bank, but serious side strain had been called for, under my feet it went, and at times with such pace that I struggled to backwind several times and relied on the clutch to release line.
I had been playing this fish for about 7 minutes when to my left I heard the, now all to familiar, chug, chug, chug coupled with loud music and laughter, another boatload of pi**ed up day-trippers were coming my way. Time for the Alamo I thought! I stood my ground and after some serious pressure a pike of just over 10lb slipped into the rickety net, it had been hooked underneath its jaw, and the hook dropped out in the net.
The boatload of drunkards thought they had witnessed a record such was their delight at seeing this fish, clapping and cheering as they went past, I punched the air, saluting their applause. Then 30 seconds later, still believing my own publicity, and with my witching hour for perch fast approaching, my next cast saw me skilfully snag the roof of the moored barge opposite, snap, went my mainline, my float flew past my head into the bush behind, even coming away from the line so that was lost also. Grasshopper, time for you to leave!
I had enjoyed the perch fishing, and although I hadn't caught anything of size, the urge had not been satisfied, I enjoy float fishing with bigger than average baits, and getting the pike in had given me confidence in my set up to deal with anything of a reasonable size that might come along but due to the day's other distractions a mid week stillwater trip had to be planned, as usual the advice and information sought came from a very reliable, friendly, yet some would say, very unlikely source.
The conversation had begun with me asking this sage for advice (again) on which would be a good venue for an after work fishing session in mid October. The large deep quarry in question had not been my contacts first choice, in all fairness, but due to other factors such as travelling time and access, not to mention the genuine possibility of a really big perch; we both agreed the quarry would be the better option.
"Fish one of the swims by the car park" the voice said, "that's where they usually show!"
Wednesday 19th October 2005, at 3.45 pm I arrived at the water. Meeting a mate in the car park, we then found that our first choice (recommended) swims were taken up by the only other anglers on the water, as such, a swim alongside a sunken tree facing into a bay had been my next choice, with my old mate fishing out into a deep bay!
My chosen tactic was to float fish the 10 feet deep swim with lobs and dendra's on the hook whilst using micro pellets, a few maggots and chopped worms as feed. The late afternoon sunshine, directly in my face, made float visibility very difficult until 5.30pm when the inevitable gloom brought with it cloud and the first spattering of rain!
Bites weren't numerous, I struck half-heartedly at a few twitches, which came to nothing and my mate had a small roach but at 6.30 pm decided he'd had enough, and left me alone with another angler for company whom had also just packed up. We chewed the fat for about 10 minutes when to both our surprise my isotope suddenly disappeared from view.
A short but dogged fight ensued, the only minor drama being the fish taking me into the outermost branches of the nearby sunken tree. I recall saying out loud
"This feels like a tench'"
As it swam into the landing net, my thoughts were proven correct. But at 6lb 2ounces it was much bigger than I could have imagined and proved to be a new personal best, the pics were taken quickly, as it was now slashing down. Not what I was fishing for admittedly, and relatively small by national standards, but still a good fish for the North West and just rewards for the effort I had put in the previous Saturday I thought! I shared my catch with all who would listen, that said, chuffed as I was, I still hadn't caught my Perch!
A repeat session on the quarry the following Saturday afternoon drew a total blank, again fishing through into darkness gave me nothing worth striking at.
The following week I was to visit an old friend whom I hadn't seen for 2 years, the confirmation phone call was made
"What do you want to fish for?" He asked.
Seeing as how he lives in Bucks, my 2 choices were loosely to be 1 day spent fishing for barbel and the other day for perch, river conditions allowing.
So 9.00 am on Monday 26th October 2005 saw me venturing out on to the UK motorway network to make the trip from Merseyside 'darn sarf' to Buckinghamshire. A trip I have made several times to fish with my mate Chris, who has made a living from fisheries work, fish and fishing, and now lectures full time on all subjects fishy related.
The journey was as uneventful as ever, stop start, but at 12.30pm we met at a garage in Newport Pagnell, and made our way to an up and rising River Ouse. I chopped and changed tactics hoping for a pull, and as ever, the session was more of a social than a 'session' but the rising river and associated debris made presentation difficult and we retired at 7pm, wet and fishless.
A new day, and new hope followed, and I found myself on a different river, a tributary of the Ouse I was told, I didn't argue, conditions looked ok, the river was up slightly but bright sunshine was occasionally blighted by cloud, which was being swept through the sky by a very brisk wind.
We surveyed the scene, and decided to leger close in with worms, starting at the top end, giving half a dozen swims a try as we wandered back downstream. Once again 'session' was second to 'social' and we fished within talking distance, and talk we did, non-stop.
Swim one produced a few twitches from small fish, but nothing worth striking at so after half an hour or so we moved to what was to be THE swim. A tree, which was partly growing in the water, could be fished from either up or downstream.
"Which side do you want?" Chris asked,
"Its up to you" I replied
"Well you're the guest" He said.
"Nah, you choose" said I.
This went on for a few minutes, anyway it was decided that I would have first choice for this swim, and Chris would choose next one down. I opted to fish the tree swim from the upstream side. I had lost a hooklength in the previous swim and was busy tying a new one when I noticed that Chris was into a fish within seconds. A Perch of about one and a half pound was netted, taken on a single dendrobena, seconds within being lowered into the swim.
No sooner had my bait been lowered in, inches from the bank down to my right, with a large dendrobena on the hook and a small block end feeder full of maggots and I too was into a fish! A short and spirited scrap saw me net a good sized perch which was without doubt a new PB, and one which brought a big cheesy grin to my ugly mug. I secretly hoped it might go 2lb, but after a quick look Chris proclaimed it was easily 2 plus so out came the Avons to confirm my new found 'Perch Expert' status.
Scales zeroed, and with both fish and net together, the pointer bounced down to nearly 4lb,
"Shit" I thought.
"What does it read?" Chris asked.
"Nearly 4 with the net" Says I.
"What does your net weigh?" Chris asked.
"Ermmm, about a pound" Says I, sort of realising what I just might have caught!
"Are you sure?" came the reply.
"Ermmm, yeah, well no, not sure, I think it's that...." I babbled, things now started to sink in, and I got a bit confused.
It was a big fish, but surely not that big! Anyway as luck would have it, a set of Fox digital scales were loaned to us, the fish was placed in a plastic bag, and up it came at 3lb 2oz, I saw this and looked away in disbelief, frowning almost, a reweigh on the Avon's gave the weight as 3lb on the dot. To say I was in shock was an understatement!
Chris offered me his hand (not in marriage I hasten to add). He was chuffed for me; my head was battered, totally! A few quick pictures and back it went. For 10 minutes I just sat, sort of wondering what had just happened! I phoned one or 2 people whom I knew would understand then I finally gathered my thoughts, stopped shaking, and carried on fishing.
We tried other swims but didn't have so much as a twitch, and ended up coming back to THE swim when a pike around 5lb, lost at the net gave Chris a bit of fun, and a horrible alien, monster, lobster type thing with one claw somewhat darkened my day, I didn't realise such scary things existed in UK rivers! I did however follow the perch with others of 2lb+ and 1lb+ later on that afternoon, Chris also taking 3 fish in total, all of which were 1.5lb+.
Was it fate, fluke or sheer angling brilliance?
After, again, telling anyone who would listen, it has dawned on me just how easy that fish was to actually catch. I don't wish to sound flippant or arrogant, but the basic rig set up was simplicity itself, a running feeder, the actual 'swim' stuck out like a sore thumb along with 2 or 3 others along that particular length and yet for more than a quarter of a century a perch like that, or even one half its size has eluded me, and most other anglers it has to be said!
As a 10-year-old boy at our local pond, I regularly used a hand line as a 'second rod'. One evening whilst fishing I went over to help another kid with a tangle or such like, when I returned to my swim, my hand line and favourite sarcandas reed 1 no1 float was gone, taken whole by some unseen monster. An hour or so later my then next-door neighbour was reeling in, and snagged a line, playing the fish, he landed a real monster perch of 1 and a half pound, attached to my hand line, I couldn't and wouldn't claim it as mine, but try as I did for more than 25 years, I never could connect with that perch or anything else like it, until now.
I like to think that those fish were just reward for the time and effort I make to travel the distances I so regularly do, but the real truth is that a combination of factors conspired to me being simply in the right place at the right time, dropping a worm down the edge is no great angling feat, on this occasion it just happened to be my turn!
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