Right, now I should be readying myself for a spring tench campaign? Truthfully though I can't motivate myself to get prepared and instead I find myself still perch fishing. It's not that I don't like perch fishing because I do, but in the scheme of things I never intended to fish that much for them right now. So why am I fishing for them? Well that's simple... because the door on the fishing season slammed shut two weeks ago and as this sort of weather is best suited for chubbing on rivers it's a simple case of the next best thing. So still water perch or pike it is then, and as pike for some reason don't concern me right now hence perch it is!
Anyway, the other day I was doing a job not so far from a small secluded fishery that has been on my radar for a while in regards to perch, and being as I was already there and that the light of late seems to last a little longer, I felt a few hours into dusk might be nice.
I knew I would be pushing my luck with the fishery owner but I have got to know him recently and if I was the only one around he might be open to the idea of me staying a little later than the norm. So after getting my job done quickly I found myself parking my van and rooting out the light outfit I had hidden away in the back.
As predicted I was the only angler present and given the still freezing north easterly wind cutting across the countryside I was also the least sane. Even before I got there I knew I fancied fishing a slightly deeper area of the water where nearly five feet is found right under the bank.
Having little more than two hours to hand, baiting had been rattling round in my head all day. I did not want to over feed the swim with a large deposit of bait and then risk the chance that although my feed may attract fish they might not find my hook bait in time. Conversely a single hook bait to my mind offered no attraction at all, so I decided to just feed a small amount of chopped goodies on arrival and hope that scant scent might garner some attention.
Given the current weather I knew I was fishing an outside chance here, so all I could do was have faith and wait. It took nearly forty five minutes for the float to move and when it did, it did so very slightly A tiny single bob heralded the float moving as if the tow had caught it. It was a fish, and a perch, but at maybe six ounces it was one the smallest I have encountered so far.
The church bell in the village across the fields sounded before I had another repeat performance. Exactly the same bob and slide resulted in a monster by comparison Over a pound and young - this was getting towards being what I wanted, but time was drifting away quickly to catch it.
The whole swim seemed dead as the light went and nowhere across the water was there any signs of topping fish. I knew it was getting to that time and I knew I was in pushing my luck territory with the owner, but as always I stuck on. All my gear was packed back into my bag and all I had to do was stow my rod and leave. Then through the gloom the float bobbed once hard, sinking it halfway up the bristle. I waited for that float to move a millimetre but it never did. Whatever it was had had second thoughts. I left the bait in the water hoping it would come back knowing where that lovely juicy worm was, but after five minutes I knew time was up and I needed to be off.
Finally I moved and sat up in my chair, arching my stiff back as I said to myself 'come on lets get off', then I picked up my rod to reel in. As I did, the rod bent over and I realised I was snagged solid on the bottom. Not wanting to lose my recently acquired handmade float, I pulled gently upwards and slowly the snag pulled free.
It felt like the same sensation I, and every other angler has felt before, like a small branch is slowly rising in the water You can imagine how shocked I was then when it wasn't a rotten old stick that broke the surface but a bright red tail!!!
Everything went into slow motion instantly. The tail appeared, then a pale green flank and a white belly. Before I knew it I was staring down at a massive perch, which was just lying still on the top no more than four feet away. That's when I spotted what had happened My worm at one end was firmly within the giants mouth and the rest of it was taught across the fishes face like half a moustache My hook was not hooked in its lips or mouth for that matter, but was caught lightly on its gill plate. Then it dawned on me that the fish had grabbed my bait, but in its torpid state hadn't moved anywhere with it. Then I, thinking it was twig, had quite gently and without striking, slowly raised it off the bottom without rousing any suspicion that it was on the move, and now there it lay on the surface a dead weight, with me staring at it in the cold night air.
The only choice as far as my flapping mind could muster was to quietly pick up my landing net and try and slip it under with out breaking the giants trance. Barely moving, the net was in hand and I slowly swung it over the water ready slide the fish in. The perch never moved a muscle until that net touched the water when it's eye opened wide with panic and with a single shake of its head I watched my hook fly free. After hovering for a split second it was gone in a single oily swirl.
Quite honestly that was the biggest perch I have had on the end of my line, and there I was standing there gawking in the half light having just watched the perch of a life-time swim back to the depths to sulk after being so cruelly tricked.
All the way home I thought about that moment before I remembered doing the same to a carp on a roasting summers day. That fish I found mooning under a blackberry bush in the midday sun. On that occasion I placed a crust right in front of it's nose and the wind blew straight into it's mouth. Expecting the fish to bolt when it felt my line, I concluded the hook had come free of the bait, so quietly I retrieved my line so as to cast again, but the line was solid. Before I even knew what was happening, the carp was slowly moving side ways towards me. That fish too went berserk when the net hit the water. The only difference was that one had the hook in its mouth not its gill plate.
I suppose the only way to think of it is like tickling trout, but like tickling trout it's not exactly the done thing and even if I would've landed that perch I could never have claimed it as a PB. Oh, and how big do I think it was? Well let's just say I have a good idea of what a big perch is, and this fish was a pound bigger than that.