I don't know about anyone else, but with me enjoying the pursuit of many different species I often find myself planning what and where quite far in advance. This year though one of my targets was a big perch, and luckily for me my plans unusually went to course, ending up with me landing a large fish very early on. So with that box ticked I was free to waste time as I wished. Even with a target achieved, the fact that I love perch fishing was always going to mean I would still carry on despite the likelihood of me beating that fish being quite slim. I do fish for my own pleasure, not just to achieve targets after all.
The one question that had come back into my head repeatedly was, should I return to the small commercial fishery which was the scene of that capture or not? I mulled it over more times than I care to remember and compared it to a multitude of other suitable venues. In the end I could not see any reason not to return, even though I thought to myself, and Jacky confirmed, that what ever I caught was always going to be smaller.
The normal population of anglers at commercial lakes on weekends inclined me to arrange a mid week session to avoid the masses and Jeff was more than happy to come along for a spot of autumnal worm wanging. We arrived earlyish and set up in a quite part of the lake in adjacent swims.
|Jeff pondering his rig after playing piggy in the middle between a snag and a hawthorn repeatedly|
The action was undoubtedly slow but here and there we got hints that perch were around. Jeff was first to land one which had been attracted by his free maggots. Though no bigger than his little finger, it still had a good way to go to reach the size we wished it was.
My 'big bait equals big fish' plan proved to also attract the tiny yearlings, but my baits being four times larger than the tiny perch present meant they could only harass my baits, causing my floats bob constantly. Soon though I got a real bite, when a single thump of the float preempted a slow submergence into the murky water. Strike met solid resistance that seemed about right for a good perch. The jagged dives seemed about right. Having convinced myself it was a decent perch only served to increase my shock when it surfaced and, quite loudly, I made my disbelief clear to a now approaching Jeff.
Sometimes the best descriptions are the first things out of your mouth and with this one I got it right first time with 'It's a crucian carp wearing a Halloween costume.'
This thing had a bit of everything mixed into it's lineage; it had a crucian dorsal fin and mouth, a proper dose of goldfish and quite possibly a hint of shubunkin or koi just for good measure. I was almost embarrassed I did not see it coming and avoid capturing it, because as I let it go I could see it swimming off four feet under the water.
After my early Halloween caller, the small perch carried on doing what they always do until my float repeated the previous bite exactly. One thump then it slid off confidently. How nothing was on the end seemed unfathomable to me. In the wind it took a few attempts to get the bait exactly back on the spot. Satisfied I sat back and only had to wait a short while for the next decent bite. For a third time the float didn't dally and this time I felt the solid resistance as a good fish held low down. I did have one of those oh bugger best let that have a spot less drag moments as the fish dived repeatedly.
"Please let this be a perch", rang through my head as the powerful fish still remained unseen. Then that moment all big perch anglers desire so much happened. A big spiny humped back broke the surface before shooting back below the surface. That was when my heart began to thump hard and the reality that I was attached to a fine big perch hit me.
Those moment between realisation of what is on the end of your line and the safety are the net are both the worst and best times in fishing as far as I am concerned. The instant it went into the net I started to wobble. I must have alerted Jeff during the fight but I don't for a second remember doing so and as he approached I did babble out "it's a good one".
My second big perch in as many sessions on this pool went onto the scales to reveal a satisfying 3.6lb weight.
I cannot deny wondering if this was actually the same fish only at a much lower weight. So once back home I got pictures of both fish up on the computer to double check. Though undoubtedly related, the first was a much longer fish with a massive head, whereas this one was shorter with a much more pronounced humped back, and was all round a little less tatty. On the subject of comparisons, Andy and myself once caught two, two pound perch from a canal within moments of each other which were identical right down to the stripes. The only way to tell those two apart was by a small swirl in ones scale pattern and proved to me how similar shoal mates scan look.
The similarities in the two perch from this pool now leads me to believe there is probably one shoal of one year class, giant perch marauding around this water. In fact I will go as far as to say that it is quite likely that one both occasions when I have caught one it is probable that the whole shoal was in front of me and the hooking of one fish sent the rest of them of packing. I did hear form a regular angler of this fishery that he once caught nine perch around 3lb in one sitting, when they were shoaled up tight and hard on the feed. But that's it for me! I am convinced there is a decent number of big perch present and I know I will be back for sure all through this season of falling leaves right through to when the first cat ice forms to try and bag a multiple capture.