The last few sessions on the bank have seen me trying to catch perch, which sounds easy enough, until you get the rods out and try to catch one over 2lb in weight.
Small perch are fairly easy to catch - virtually every schoolboy angler has caught little Perca Fluviatilis – it’s a striking, easily distinguished fish with black stripes, armour-like scales and sharp dorsal fin. Although I wonder how many anglers have noticed the black smudge to the rear of its dorsal?
Every young angler has run their finger ‘against the grain’ down the flanks of a perch and felt the rough scales and at some time or other been ‘spiked’ by the dorsal or the sharp gill covers. It’s a belligerent, handsome fish!
Small perch are perhaps too easy to catch, being predators, they will quickly swallow a worm or maggot right down if you are not careful and time your strike correctly.
They hang around in shoals, devouring anything they can get into their mouths, but as they grow bigger, they separate and drift apart and as a predator, fish come high on their menu.
As they get older they become a lot more cautious and harder to catch. A two-pounder is a worthy specimen; anything above three pounds gets you into the magazines. The record weight is 5lb 15oz held by Les Brown, but a 6-2 has been recently recorded from the River Thames.
My first session was a washout, high winds making fishing extremely difficult. I moved pegs three times until I found a more sheltered spot, which allowed me to keep the rod in my hands. Bait presentation was tricky; I float fished red maggots and broken dendrobaena worms to catch rudd, roach and chub with only one six-inch perch to show for my efforts. The perch were winning.
I faired a little better on my second session, although freezing conditions made fishing slow. I did manage to land a few perch with the biggest going just over ten ounces in weight. A single red maggot on a size 20 doing the business. I also landed some tiny gudgeon, but resisted the temptation to use them as bait.
My last session proved most successful, this time the bait was half a prawn, side hooked onto a size 12 wide-gape hook. A couple of the perch weighed close to the one-pound mark, but I’m still a long way from landing a two-pounder!