Hunting a 3lb Perch
After a summer of mainly small-river barbel fishing and evening lure fishing stints, I can look back with satisfaction that I’ve had an above-average season and I’ve achieved a few new goals – not least of which my lure caught 15lb pike. Throughout the Autumn and Winter, I shall be targeting mainly pike, along with other predators such as chub and perch. So far the going has been good. I’ve been fishing with my long-time fishing buddy, Matt, and between us we’ve already had 6 pike of between 14lb and 19lb this season. Besides the pike, there have been numerous respectable perch captured. We were not only both seeking our first 3lb-plus perch, but also our first fish over 2lb this season. This is how we got on…
The first perch session of the Autumn began in late September, with Matt and I selecting swims with different features. Mine was a shallow, still bay, with a couple of deeper holes and some overhanging trees on the far bank. Matt’s swim was a high-bank with shallows below, which gradually deepened off towards the far end of the swim. It became apparent that perch were present in both swims, as we were both hooking small fish on worms and red maggots.
The set-ups were simple. For me it was a maggot feeder, filled with red maggots, with a large dendrobaena or two on the hook. For Matt, it was a small chubber-style float with a worm beneath it and a steady trickle of maggots fed by hand.
I managed to work through the smaller fish first and within a couple of hours I’d landed a brace of fish at 1lb 1oz each. Hardly monsters, but they gave me a satisfying fight and they were closer to the size I was looking for.
It took Matt until after lunch time before he started to see bigger perch in his swim. And these were MUCH bigger! As Matt brought in a perch of 8 ounces or so, he noticed a much larger fish ‘shadowing’ behind it, as perch often do. This perch was bigger than any he’d seen before and was estimated at over 3lbs. Immediately, a worm was put back out, in the hope that the big perch would take hold. A chublet beat the perch to Matt’s worm and as he reeled the chub in, the perch attacked it! In a moment of confusion, Matt didn’t quite give the perch time to fully engulf the chub and the hook failed to set. He cast-out the chub (which by now was beyond recovery) in the same spot and the perch took it again, but failed to be hooked.
What astounded us was the state the chublet came back in. It had been in the mouth/throat of a perch for no more than 15 seconds and it went from fully scaled to completely skinless! I’ve removed a lot of deadbaits from throats of pike and they’ve always been almost entirely intact. I can only assume that the pharyngeal teeth and/or digestive enzymes of perch are particularly aggressive. I’ve never heard about this from any studies or other angling writers, but take a look at the results for yourself:
Seeing the potential of these large perch in aggressive, predatory mode Matt started fishing for livebaits. He caught a couple of small roach and chub, before switching back to perch fishing. Before long, I was being called over to photograph a gorgeous 2lb 5oz perch with a taste for chublet. It wasn’t the fish Matt had earlier lost, so we quickly realised the potential his peg had for big perch.
The following week, we decided to attack the same swims, because I was convinced mine contained a ‘2’ and Matt was quite confident his peg would yield a ‘3’. The weather was much brighter than the previous session. My peg was shaded by trees, whilst the morning sun beat straight down into Matt’s swim, forcing him to fish for roach and dace for a while to pass the time. I was determined to land a big perch on worms, so this time I came armed with some huge lobworms, instead of the dendrobaenas, while Matt was confident using livebaits after his success last time.
My peg’s early shade proved beneficial, as I caught the first decent perch of the day on floatfished lobworm. When fishing 4lb line to a size 6 barbless hook, on a float rod, any perch over 10 ounces will give you a brilliant battle. The main fear when battling perch is that the fish will throw the hook, because they shake their heads so much. It’s not uncommon to lose perch after perch due to this. My fish, pictured here, weighed 1lb 7oz; is my biggest perch from this swim so far, but I’m convinced that after Christmas there will be a 2lb perch somewhere nearby. Over the summer and autumn, I’ve now had more 1lb plus perch from here than I have from anywhere else.
Bites were fairly consistent for the rest of the day and I seemed to be getting a better average size with lobworms than with dendrobaenas. I caught 2 more perch which weighed 1lb 5oz each, which were my biggest for the remainder of the day. I did, however manage a bonus pike, due to taking my lure rod with me. I had taken a few perch lures (but only caught small fish) and a few larger lures for pike. After seeing a fish strike in the margins, I clipped on my Salmo Pike crankbait, which is a very accurate pike imitation. My theory was that surely only a huge pike would take this lure; this turned out not to be the case, as I landed a pike of around 4lb 8oz on the lure.
Meanwhile, Matt was getting into the two-pound perch again; managing a fish which scaled exactly 2lbs. Once again, a livebait did the business, although the 3 pounder we dream about has remained elusive to us both. I shall continue to try for my first 2lb plus perch of the season.
I’ll be back soon with tales of the start of my pike fishing campaign. There are some great fish to come and you’ll see that where angling photography is concerned, I’m not all talk! Some of my proudest fishing photos to date will appear in my next article…
Until then, tight lines!
Further information about the history, life cycle and biology of Perca fluviatilis – the European Perch – can be found on Wikipedia here: European Perch Wiki and on Fishbase here: European Perch fish on Fishbase.org.