With the closed season looming ever closer I had spent all week mulling over whether to chance the Avon for mine and Robs last session together before he jets off to the Caribbean for six months, or go for an easier option.
As with most things here in the UK the weather became the deciding factor. Both of us broached the idea of a barbel session, but a week of ever dropping temps got us both thinking that to go for a morning barbel session would beckon the blank so a couple of days before agreed a change of venue was needed. I suggested trying the new section of canal myself and Andy have been fishing because we were almost guaranteed to see some big perch.
The cold wind that hit us as we stepped onto the tow path was merciless and with my thermal fishing clobber tucked up cosily at home I knew it was going to be an old school teeth chattering session. Walking up the cut I spotted in the distance three barges randomly moored exactly where I was hoping to fish but rather than look at this problem I instead decided to view them as a feature to fish too. At least until the occupants woke up and their bumping around shifted any hiding fish from under them.
A couple of days before going out I had been chatting to Andy about different method of fishing for these perch using a kind of hybrid stretpegging/laying on rig to combat the constant tow of the canal and had set up my own version of the rig Andy had used on his last session. My version, though how different to Andy's it is I won't know till he reads this, consisted of a size ten whisker barbed hook tied to a 3lb low vis hook link about 8" long with a small float stop just above the hook link to act as stop for a 3gram drilled bullet then up the line about a foot over depth was a small 2gram drennan loafer float enabling me to cast the bait onto a baited area without fear of it constantly drifting off it.
After baiting with a small ball of chopped worm and dead maggots held together with riddled mole hill I cast the new rig plus Lob worm close to hull off the boat and waited. The bites took a while to appear but after half an hour the float bobbed before sliding away.
The first perch turned out to be the smallest of the day at 12oz but soon enough some bigger fish over a pound turned up. I really wanted to explore some new swims hence no pole so after an hour we moved on to a more open swim. Again I had a boat to my right and the perch rig was again cast tight to the hull. I cast my second scaled up version of the new rig out into open water with a roach head on the hook looking for maybe bigger perch or Zander.
Again it took a while to get some bites but when they did turn up it went mad! At one point I had just landed a nice perch when the dead bait float disappeared when a 3lb zander took the bait resulting in a two species brace.
The Zander really switched on - unusually when the sun poked its head out - and I got repeated runs and lost a couple of small Zeds before a barge passed through and ended it all. At this point I noticed a boat had moved off from the swim I had originally intended to fish so we moved one last time to have a go there before we retreated home to the warmth.
Repeating the same routine in the last swim I didn't have to wait long for the float to go under and this time I thought I had finally found a real monster perch which morphed into a small Zander before surfacing.
Little Zeds love Lob worms.
I persevered in this swim; after losing a couple of hooks to suspected Zander and landing a couple more decent perch I finally connected with a bigger perch, which seemed to be cast from the same mould as my previous brace of two pound fish. On the scales it again took the dial round to two pounds but not one oz further.
The thought that this may of been a repeat capture was at the fore front of my mind till I got the pictures side by side and confirmed it was actually not a repeater but another chunky 2lb perch. I can only conclude that there is a class of fish in this area that has that wondrous combination of good genes, high survival rate and veracious appetites. I find myself pondering the whereabouts of the family member that is round that magical 3lb mark! On the other hand there is at least five fish that we now know of that in a few years could grow to god only knows how big all in a very specific area.
There also seems to be an above normal amount of Zander kicking around in the area too if the catch ratios are anything to go by. It's quite obvious that British waterways have certainly not electro fished this place in recent years anyway. So with that in mind I think a return trip one night this week with a bait bucket full of dead roach seems in order as my fishy senses are tingling at the thought that that there could be something very special here by way of Zander!