Friday, 20 March 2015

All about the perch.

Since I've begun dedicating much of my fishing time to lure fishing I've found myself spending quite large amounts of non-fishing time perusing lures online. The selection out there is unimaginable and the huge choice has got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, it's a case that the lures have to be designed not just to catch fish but catch anglers too. Take any pattern or design of lure you care to think of and I am sure that in some situation that design will catch fish. Then in most cases the manufacturer will produce said lure in between five and fifteen colours. But if the producer was to extensively test this range of colours in various conditions fairly (I know that's only theoretically possible) I am sure that one or two colours would probably fare badly, thus making them not-so-good-of-a-lure. But still the manufacturer makes, markets and sells them, and why should they do this? Well, because as I said before, anglers are like magpies and sometimes we just want bright things that attract us.

It's because of this theory and the general addictiveness of collecting these lures that I've become very careful of what I purchase. I quite often fill my online basket with lures I think look good and then spend ages reassessing how I think they will work and look in the water before filtering down to things I think will be successful for me. It's important I should say for me as for someone else they might well work. Either way you have to think they will work or there's no point purchasing them or casting them because confidence in what your offering is key.

Just the other day I arrived back at my desk to see a mailite bag sitting on my keyboard and knew exactly what was in it, as I'd been hoping the batch of new lures would arrive in time to take them out on my next session. There were two specific lures in the bag that I already knew were going to come into play on the canals.

The Tiki monkey! I love the name of this lure, and not only did I like the name of it but I liked the six small paddle tails and it's creature-like shape. I reckon it looks quite like a newt or possibly even a crayfish when in the water, but whatever it looked like I am damn sure it would make some serious disturbance. The only thing I had my doubts about was its size. Up until now I've been a little reserved with the size of lure I've been using on the canals, this however falls into a whole larger size bracket. 

Once I had it in hand and my nostrils were filled with the scent of fresh rubber and molopo (whatever molopo is) I quickly concluded that I fancied this might make a really good drop shot lure and I was right as well. A few days later I found myself on a regular haunt working a drop shot rigged Tiki monkey slowly along the inside marginal shelf when it got absolutely smashed by a big perch. How chuffed was I to have not only had some interest but landed, for my first fish on this weird and wonderful lure, such a stunning Sargent.

It really was a looker and not the normal shape of perch that have been caught here in the past. Most of the residents I've landed here are short, stocky, football shaped fish whereas this one was longer with a defined hump. Possibly it could have been a male fish as it seemed not to show any signs of having spawned or getting ready to spawn. 

Beyond that one decent fish I did get plenty of interest from smaller perch of which one in five attacks of the flailing Tikki monkey resulted in the lure going in a fishes mouth. There's no doubt that this attractive offering works, it's just whether the attacker is big enough to get the whole lot in its mouth.

Only a day later I got a second albeit much shorter session on a new bit of canal. Early morning I made my way down the tow-path of a bit of cut I wouldn't fish a evening session unless I had a loaded AK47 slung over my shoulder. As you can tell it's a bit of a dive and that's made worse by a few old Junker barges being resident. One of which seemed to be leaking fresh diesel into the canal from its listing, rotting hull.

I should go on record and say that I don't per se have anything against boaters apart from they don't really have much respect for anglers and have even less for the water ways, and when I see half a mile of canal with reflective oily swirls all over its surface it really gets up my nose. After walking what seems like miles I did eventually come to some seemingly unpolluted water, which was surprisingly clear... I mean really clear.

My obvious reaction was to go natural with the colour of my lures and use a few favourites including the newly deflowered Tiki monkey, silver Koypto and pumpkin paddler grub, the result of which was nothing for an hour's casting. Honestly I was thinking this new section might not turn out to be as good as I thought it was going to be. Then I remembered a new pack of gaudy Koyptos I had bought and surmised that maybe going to the opposite end of the colour spectrum might work.

The bright orange and black shad looked a little obvious when I tried it in the water and with such good visibility I could see it a foot and half down in the water. So I began working along the stretch casting the bright lure into the far side cover. Three casts in something grabbed at the lure and I struck into a good fish which turned out to be a nice looking zander. Well, it looked nice thrashing under the water before my lure came free. From then on I worked the cover tight and hard.

I'd just sent the lure into a small hole under an overhanging hawthorn when I felt a real thump as it dropped on a tight line. A quick strike and I found myself playing a rather chunky perch that had really engulfed the bright orange shad.

I have figured out a lot about lure fishing during this intense period of doing it and one of the key things I've concluded is that it's ten times harder to get a good hook up on a zander than a perch. Part of this is to do with the zanders preclusion to try to disable the lure/prey by nipping its tail. A lot of the time you feel the hit and strike, then contact no fish and that's when I suspect they're just grabbing the tail of the lure. Other times they really engulf the lure and you strike into the fish, only to have it come adrift in the fight because the hook hasn't really got a good hold in its bony upper mouth. Perch on the other hand, nine times out of ten really have a go at the lure and the hook gets a much better hold in their softer mouth. 

This theory really became evident when a bit further down the canal I located a shoal of zander grouped in the middle of the trench. The first fish I hit came all the way to the edge before thrashing around and throwing the hook. A smaller fish was next and that one got hooked in the side of the mouth, but the following one I felt hit and thrash before that too escaped. From then it was all nips on the lure until they had enough of my antagonization. Strangely though after the zander sport died off in that swim I found a shoal of smaller yet very aggressive perch which, given their size, were really having a pop at the orange Koypto right at the end of the retrieve right under my feet, and I had some fun with for my last half and hour on the bank.

The whole zander problem is a bit of a catch-22 two really. Yes, I could solve the problem by using a lure like the new fox drones which trail a small treble underneath. But any lure with a downward facing hook that gets used on the canal has, in my opinion, a very short life span and their use is going to send expenses sky high sooner or later when they get claimed by natural or unnatural snags. Or I could rig in a trailing hook around the tail, but I know from experience that this can effect the lures movement. My solution for now though will be to continue using the lures I am as they seem to be working and to instead use a stiffer rod which I have, whilst trying to adopt a more aggressive reactional strike to try and set the hook.


  1. Your making this Perch fishing look bloody easy!, I can't buy a bite in jigs, only the spinners are getting hits. Re the slick, on the GUC in North London it's a common place and a right piss take as "so called" boat owners do treat it as a dumping ground but not all of them though ( only a minority ), but it surely doesn't do the fish or any other wildlife any good. Tight lines Daniel.

    1. In truth James I think the fact that I am fishing spots where I have prior knowledge of big perch is really helping my catch rate.
      As for the oil slicks on the water. I've always suspected they are detrimental to fishing and that any bait or tackle gets tainted as passes through it.

  2. I think you've got the lure bug good and proper Danny, not suprised though you've been catching some cracking fish. As someone who loves roving and travelling light its a great way to fish. I've found the same issues as you when lure fishing for Zander and I was hooking loads but more often than not the fish used to throw the hook. I use a stiffer rod now meant for much larger lures and I set the hook once a fish is on and I've found for me anyway a short shad of a couple of inches works far better than a longer lure maybe they were just grabbing on to the tail. My biggest cut Zander of 5lb 4oz was caught this way. I really only use one pattern and thats fire tiger the stretches I fish are quite busy with boats so the water is murky and seems ideal, I've caught on other patterns and colours but I've such confidence in fire tiger I've no reason to change. I'll be exclusively fishing down the cut in the closed season, just need to find the time, work, kids and holiday getting in the way at the minute. Keep up the good work by the way. Oh and I've found the areas I fish devoid of Pike have you found the same ?

    1. Dead right I've got the lure bug Mick. I've got to the stage were it's all I can think of 😀
      With the zed hooking problem I am at the moment trying to obtain a new fast action rod which I feel will help. Only problem is that I can't find exactly what I want.

  3. I'm surprised to hear people have issues with hooking Zander. I use small very fine wire jig hooks, even with an ultra lite rod they find a hook hold. I can only put this down to the fine wore hook!