I often have rivers running through my mind and the last few days had not been that different. Often I thought about the Avon and often I pondered whether or not I should return. My last sessions capture could and should really be a great finish to the season, but as always the weather had changed and temptation had grown. That mythical opportunity to chance a barbel was on offer and all I had to do was give in to temptation and take that gamble.
A day was stolen, which turned out to be the best of the week, but not so much as whisker was sniffed and myself and Rob bathed like lizards in the early and much appreciated sun after a long cold winter. Although sans barbel, fish were caught and importantly the memory of warmth now bookended the winter.
Now though I found myself in a quandary. Did I risk another trip to the river, which could end the season much as it always begins? Or should I take an early shower and walk away with nothing but feeling of warmth and joy in my soul for the river?
As always it was the weather that played the deciding hand. I watched the temperature drop slowly and the rivers rise a little and in the end there was no temptation to draw me. My season on the rivers was done! With one decision made another always arises and what and where next lay before me. Carp fishing weighs heavy on my mind but the heat of summer and spring still seem a log ways off, so that can wait. Now perch are in my sights and even though I have been vocal about not wanting to spend to much time after them, I can't resit the sight of a big fat Sargent in the bottom of my net.
The canal seemed an appropriate spot for a warm up for this years compacted perch pursuit. So with limited time free at the weekend I found myself walking a damp tow path filled with wood smoke from a distant narrow heading to a reliable spot where big perch are known to hang out.
My perch float fishing rig has grown vulgar in it's simplicity over two successful seasons: four pound line, small chubber float, a few shot and a size 6 hook tied directly to the main line. It sounds crude and probably should not be a devastatingly successful as is, but all I can say is, it has worked on every big perch I have caught in the last two years so why change it.
After depositing a foul mix of various chopped baits into the margin I sat back to wait. And wait I was made to, for quite some time I should say. I was just getting the pangs of concern when I spotted a single bob of my orange float top. It never became anything, but that single bob restored my confidence one hundred percent. It took another fifteen minutes for it to bob again, but this time it soon sank away as something slinked back down the marginal shelf.
One and three quarter pounds was a nice first fish and more I knew would follow. I could only hope that the rest were in as wonderful condition and just as bristling as this first one.
I have absolutely no doubt that these perch patrol this section of canal in small shoals. The bites cannot fail to indicate otherwise. Up to one hour of inactivity is predictably followed by a flurry of bites where one fish can be hooked, landed, and returned before the next cast hooks a second fish lingering over the tiny patch of bait which attracted them in the first place.
My theory proved exactly the case when on my very next cast after releasing my first fish, the float never even settled fully before bobbing as a perch engulfed my sinking worm and then buried as it moved off quickly. This second fish felt much bigger as it dived at my bank hard before zig zaging up and down in the shallow water.
Two pounds four ounces is just above the seeming average ceiling weight achieved by these canal perch and a great capture on my first outing for them. Then after she went back, three more chunky fish all over a pound and half but not quite two pounds hit my net quickly one after another.
The action had died a death after this initial spell and I found myself fancying a second spot a bit further back down the canal. So rather than top up I saved my bait to ready for a second trap in a different area. In the new spot it was the exact mirror image of what had happened only forty feet away. Bait went in and I waited patiently for an age then right on cue a bob of the float indicated the fish were about.
This time only three were landed and everyone was identical to the last. Thick, deep and angry as hell. I weighed all three of them at 1.13, 1.13, 1.14. this trio had to be related by year class.
Honestly I would of thought there were recaptures if it weren't for the fact that the first two were taken right back to my previous spot to prevent them spoiling the mood of any remaining fish.
A winter of scratching bites has made me forget how good this fishing can be and I don't suspect it will be long before I come back here as I can't let fishing like this slip away from me. I know they are not all three pounders, but seven fish all getting around that two pound mark and one over it all caught on wet afternoon on a free venue, using a few left over worms and whatever churvey I had in the freezer draw, well that is great fishing as far as I am concerned!