Tuesday, 24 February 2015

perch-plexed - Dying light fix

Red fins and stripey black markings, angry dorsals and flaring gill plates, the subtle plucks as they tentatively pull the quiver tip round and bold tussle they give, dorsal raised like a freshwater marlin, I don't think there is a finer species that reside in our waterways and I do like a spot of perch fishing for all of these reasons.

A couple of my recent trips found me confronted by pike that were bullying the perch out of the area. Esox that were intent on snaffling up my worm hook bait and putting a bit of a bend in the quiver. It was fairly evident that no perch with an ounce of common sense would be seen hanging around whilst the crocs were on the feed and midway through the second outing a nagging doubt started to seed itself in my mind, partly due to having a mink pop its head up in the swim.

I thought things over slowly, were the pike dominating this area of the river? Had the perch fallen foul of  predation by mink or otter? Or maybe the fish had not fully moved into the area for spawning yet?

The last idea seemed a reasonably logical one, as did the first and I must admit that I have seen only mink on this waterway no otters as of yet. I decided to try a side channel, an area where small fry are normally harassed by perch. A light scattering of red maggot was placed over link ledgered lobs and I waited in earnest for any signs of activity, I was thankful it wasn't an overly bright afternoon, light levels were what I would call perfect with a healthy helping of cumulus.

As daylight gradually diminished there was no signs of activity, no plucks not even the faintest of twitches, my first thought was to stick it out, the other to move further afield and try a few other swims, the stay put and "all in or nothing" won out.

Daylight had almost retreated as I began to question my timing, swim selection and wondering if it would be wiser to leave targeting them till nearer the end of season, when I saw the tip move a fraction, the faintest nudge, followed by those guitar style, strumming plucks that seem synonymous with a finicky perch bite. Setting the hook there was a reassuring response, thump thump, followed by a proud dorsal breaking the surface. The perfect lime green flank and blood red fins slid over the net cord.

Last knockings 2lb perca
This solidly built perch had really left it till last knockings, but it was like a shot in the arm and my confidence was fully restored. Perhaps some of its parents will come knocking next time, who knows.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Mixing it up

My last few trips have seen me chopping and changing between species. Perch, pike and chub have  all featured. I am certainly not an angler whom targets pike a lot and that much is very evident on this blog and my vlogs, each season I promise myself to set time aside for said species. Don't get me wrong I do love them, but I get rather sidetracked and before you know it the season is over and promise fallen by the wayside. So a plan was made, a spot of static dead baiting on a diminutive waterway, one that is full of character and has some rather pretty predators.

It was a cold January morning, the breeze a tad chilly, a refreshing wake up call to the mind and soul even if body did not agree. The river level looked good if a bit coloured, I was soon setup and the first roach was cast across the narrow channel toward the opposite margin. Having had them in the freezer for over thirteen months I must admit they were not the freshest of fish but did seem to be holding together reasonably well.

An hour later the line pinged out of the drop back indicator and I was playing a lively, dappled scamp that bolted along the near margins, the first fish of 2015 .

The end result was a fish of 4lb 5oz and a nice way to start the new year. A short rest in the net and It soon sped off to tell any others that it might meet to avoid those less than glossy eyed roach. I can just see an image of two pike sat on the bottom, one checking an imaginary sell by date and claiming to its mate "I am telling you it has a touch of freezer frost!!"

It was an enjoyable day and I was kept company by Jenny Wren, whom kept returning and having a good chatter to me, for such small birds they are filled to the brim with hardy character.

Come late afternoon and not long before it was time to head off home to defrost I had a very confident take, I knew straight away that this was a better fish as it made a forceful sprint for the marginal snags, a quick bit of side strain was applied to halt its progress, the fish came instantly to the surface and proceeded to tail walk three times, it was a high adrenaline but short lived scrap. A lovely looking esox was my reward, not big by some anglers standards but for myself a personal best.


I was overjoyed and at the same time left questioning myself as to why I never allot a sensible portion of the fishing season to target this species.

Just prior to Christmas a neat parcel turned up and I pondered whether to leave unwrapping it till Christmas day, however curiosity got the better of me and the package was soon opened, inside were some very finely crafted floats, the glossy lacquered finishing and attention to detail was superb, I could not thank Philip enough for being so kind.

One float in particular really called out to me, an elegant avon with grey body and black whippings. I could already feel a sentimental friendship growing and if it could perhaps survive some snags, trees and a spot of dodgy wallace casting I was sure it would soon have a few tales to tell.

A few days after my pike trip I decided to put the float and speedia to good use with three hours of lunchtime trotting. Grabbing the nearest landing net, tubs of maggot and worm, I was soon off to chance my arm for a fish or two and perhaps a float caught perca. On reaching the river it looked nice but was in reality far too coloured for perch, I was nonetheless game and trickled in a steady flow of maggots at a little and often pace.

I must say having not trotted for many years it was nice to get back into it, slowly but surely a rhythm was found and as I worked the float along the various currents I was fully immersed, mesmerized by each jostle and nudge. Two hours later I had managed to miss a couple of good bites, both fast affairs and it was apparent that I was rather rusty, the Grey wagtail that had kept me company much of the afternoon would have agreed in earnest.

By now the sun was out and despite its rather watered down appearance it was most pleasant, a brief break was taken to rest my eyes and warm myself with a shot of coffee. A glance at the watch told me a few more trots and I would have to be off home, on about the tenth run through the float buried solidly, I struck and the response was instant as a  healthy dogged sprint followed, if this was a perch it was a darn good one, but I could tell this scrap had the characteristics of a chevin, sure enough the water boiled as a broad, blunt head broke the surface.

As I slid the net under it I could see it was easily my largest float and pin caught chevin. The scales read a very pleasing 6.5, I could not resist a speedia and chub picture.

These off the cuff fishing trips always feel quite wholesome, perhaps due to just grabbing the basics and getting out. I had finally christened the speedia and thanks to Philip's very kind hearted gesture I had got back into trotting, I headed home most content.