Originally a pre-Christmas trip to the river Wye was planned, but by mid week it was running five and half meters higher than normal. That is something that Avon anglers can barely comprehend never mind fish. So plan B came into force and targets changed from barbel to perch. Old Father Thames remained stoical up until the day before, when that too was deemed barely fishable by local sources.
Now, like many I have found myself on the banks of an unfamiliar venue when it's out of sorts and can say with some certainty that it's miserable when you have committed time, money and effort into a trip, and have a torrid time when I should have just left it alone. This one got called before that happend though, and in truth that knocked the wind out of my sails.
Truthfully, I hadn't got round to conceiving a new plan by the time morning came. It was JB who tried to gee me up into getting out and good job she did as I had a large amount of costly bait I'd bought which would only go downhill if stored for another week. Whilst feeding BB sitting on the sofa I weighed up all my options. The Avon like most of the rivers was a bit off colour and dumping a load of worm in the canal didn't seem the best use for all that bait. So after pondering a few pools I opted to head to a commercial venue that in the past had produced some serious perch for me and others.
The one reservation I had about this venue was that it has seen a lot of pressure regarding perch fishing the last few years. As a result I wondered if it had seen its best days. So many of these commercial pools get burnt out once word gets out that a few big perch have been caught. Though why that happens I don't rightly understand. Maybe the fish die off or maybe they just become wiser, I don't know, but either way the sport declines under pressure.
So with a bit of doubt in the back of my mind I squelched my way across the sodden grass towards my chosen peg. After a bit of plumbing around I settled on a slight shelf a little out from the margin where I was sure big perch might patrol. A quarter of a kilo of dendrobena worms were minced and five small handfuls were deposited in a short line running out from the bank above, on and below the shelf so as to hopefully intersect the path of any perch.
To start with I began by using only half a lobworm on the size six hook. The rest of the worm was broken into three smaller pieces and thrown over the chopped worm as bigger freebies. I am a big fan of using Drennan chubbers or bobbers for this type of fishing as they give me multiple options on how to present the heavy baits I like to use, and shotted correctly they offer little resistance to a big perch moving off with the bait. Even with the wind still hacking across the lake, the tip of my bobber held stationary in the lea of some reeds glowing in the sun.
It didn't take long to generate some interest by way of a slew of hungry roach of around half a pound. Then not long after they stopped biting I got a proper bob and slide away bite. A powerful fish ramped around the swim putting a decent bend in my rod. Turned out it was no perch but an unseasonable December tench that come on the feed in warmer weather.
Like a match angler I always keep topping up the baited area, as in these commercial lakes it doesn't take long to get cleaned out when there's shoal of hungry silvers and carp rummaging round the lake bed. Literally you can tell when they have cleaned you out of bait and sometimes this is a good thing, as often I have found the big perch turn up after other fish have gone.
I'd topped up, had a bit of a lull in the action and the roach had been and gone once more before I got another positive bite. This time the float bobbed once and slid off towards the reeds and I struck into a heavy fish. The culprit went zipping down the margin before turning back towards me and bending my light rod in a very awkward angle as it bored under my feet. Luckily it went out into open water under pressure and the rest of the fight was a lot more civilised. That was until a big stripy flank rolled over into the net and the hook lost it's hold. I really wasn't sure it had gone in the net until I lifted the net to see a huge perch's back rise up in the water.
I was really happy to be proved wrong that this pool wasn't done with respect to big perch. I was even happier to see such a nice looking example from such a muddy puddle. So often they can be a bit wishy washy, but this one was quite well coloured and looked a real predator. I am willing to bet many a young carp or roach has been gulped up by that huge mouth.
After releasing that one well away from my swim I topped up with more worm. I reckon a second fish must have been lingering on the bait as not a single roach turned up for a long while before I hooked and lost what I was sure was a second good perch. It was time for a slight change in tactics. Up until now I have persisted in fishing either a half or whole lob worm on the bottom, but sometimes I've found that presenting a whole worm just off the bottom really sparks up some action. Though most of the time I split the worm into two equal sections and hook both by the split ends onto the hook. This gives the bait a very enticing fall on a tight line and does, as it did in this case, bring an instant reaction.
The float had barely settled and the weight of the worm had just sunk the tip a little bit more when it just disappeared under the water in a blink of an eye. This fish fought just as hard as the first but once in the net turned out to be a much younger looking fish around two pounds, which although smaller and younger looks like it too will one day become a real commercial monster.
After that one no other big perch turned up before I had to go. Interestingly though I did have a run in with two perch right at the opposite end of the size spectrum and I wished I could have got a picture of these two as well. After putting away the float rod I figured it would be interesting to run a worm around the baited area on a drop shot rig by way of one final change to root out a monster Sargent. Quite quickly I felt something tugging at the end of the line and after striking into thin air I cover the same area again only to get the same tugging sensation. After striking at nothing again and again I concluded to just gently lift the rig out upon getting the little tug. This time my rig came out with the lobworm stretched nearly a foot long with a three inch perch greedily holding onto the end of the worm a good eleven inches away from the hook.
It seemed there was shoal of these tiny yearlings in the margin. Their presence certainly confirmed no big predators were around now, but also confirmed that these bigger perch have been breeding. Now given there seems to be just either big parent perch or tiny baby perch in the pool it's not hard to conclude that these little ones are the young of the monsters this pool is renowned for producing. So maybe in a few years time we might see a whole new generation of top predators occupying this commercial banquet, which would be very good to see.