Sunday, 19 January 2014

Right Place, Right Time!!

Last weekend I was hoping to get amongst some perch. The plan was to catch a 2lber using prawns, although the fish had other plans. This weekend I attempted round two.

I arrived at the venue at first light to the sound of kingfishers and observed red kites soar across the surrounding fields. The lake was split in two by islands; one half was open, the other a series of islands, channels and dense overgrowth...perfect perch territory.

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The swim I chose had brambles either side and depths of over 5 feet quite close in, although with the clarity of the water I could see every pebble. I set up the Mark IV Avon with a small centrepin, 4lb mainline and a size 10 hook under a traditional perch bobber float.

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The first fish to slide the float under was a perch, the intended species, only it was a tad on the small size. But, a fish is a fish, and the prawns seemed to have instant appeal. First Blood!!

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The next bite was struck and a much better fish tried to find its way under the brambles, but the Mark IV soon had it wallowing ready for the net. Out of interest I weighed the fish at 1lb 6oz and was already smiling from ear to ear.

Half a dozen perch, all over a pound came to my net in a flurry of activity. Then came a lean spell where the float never moved, the shoal had moved on. During this quiet period I drank a cup of tea and watched two lovely carp cruise through, dark scaly beasts, maybe I could have a look for them later.

Half an hour or so went by and the float dipped, held underwater for a second or two and gently slid sideways. I knew straight away it was a big one and felt my knees tremble when I steered a veritable donkey of a sergeant towards the awaiting net. Once again I called upon the avon scales and was pleasantly surprised to see the needle stop at 2lb 13oz. A warrior that had made my day, and doubtless many other anglers over the years.

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After releasing the fish I watched it swim away with my polarised glasses on, I watched it swim a long way out, such an impressive sight and such an impressive fish. It was already a Red Letter Day and it was still just a little before lunch time.

The next two fish were just over a pound with one going 1lb 9oz. Then another big one was hooked and made it under the brambles, but steady pressure and side strain got it moving again and soon it was in the net and posing for the camera. This one weighed 2lb 10oz.

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As if that wasn’t enough the very next cast saw the float slide away to yet another really big stripey, with the needle on the avons spinning round to a whopping 3lb 1oz. I was being spoilt, and best of all, I was the only angler there. All the perch were stunning, dark fish with blood red fins and bags of attitude.

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After releasing the three pounder I decided to go for a wander. I took my flask, a pasty and the polarised glasses and ate my lunch at the end of the pool. The water ran in through a stream here and it gave an awesome view of this end of the pool and its many islands.

After my lunch I stated to search out the margins and spotted a ghostie just off the marginal shelf through a narrow gap between two trees. I jostled into position for a better look and froze as two dark scaly mirrors came into view followed by a common and then a linear. It was like an aquarium down there. They say that location is key, especially in winter, well here they were.

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Back at camp I swapped the reel for one with 8lb line and fixed up a basic float set up. Back at the stalking spot I crept into position with just a prawn on the hook and without any free offerings lowered the bait into position. I watched on wondering if I’d spooked them but I hadn’t, this was confirmed when more commons and mirrors swam past, one of which upended and went straight down on the prawn, it was a common.

I watched the prawn, and then I saw white lips open and the prawn disappeared, my focus fixed then on the float and as it lifted and laid flat on the surface I struck and felt a heavy weight but not the charge I was expecting. I don’t think the fish realised it was hooked at first, but after a few seconds off it went, Mark IV Avon arching like it shouldn’t and line peeling from the Aerial.

There really wasn’t enough room in between those trees to play a carp, so I had to stand in the water, stoop low and hope I could eventually tease the fish over the net. Once the fish tired I had half a dozen attempts ay netting it before it finally went in. I lifted hard and let out a cheer as the fish was finally beaten. It was a lovely dark common, somewhere around 15lbs. A quick photo and I watched her swim strongly off through those clear margins.

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Soon after I’d tidied the swim I got back to perch fishing, and for the next hour caught another half a dozen fish, although the sizes were all just shy of or just over a pound. I popped into the pitch next door just to see if there were any perch cruising there and fell to the ground due to not wanting to spook the carp that had obviously moved from the gap in the trees to right in front of me. In the crystal clear water I could see commons, a leather, a linear and three dark mirrors with random big plated scales. They were all stunners.

With the beefed up tackle back on I crawled into position on my hands and knees and gently lowered the float into the margin. I was shocked when I had to set the depth to almost 6 feet, the clarity made it only seem like 3 feet as I could see everything down there. I threw a few broken pieces of prawn around the hook bait and sat back away from the edge but close enough to see the hook bait, which was insanely exciting.

A few carp came and went but nothing upended or dropped onto the prawns. Then from the left a perch came a-sniffing. I could see it was a good one, but worried that catching it would ruin my chances of a carp. The stripey snaffled three small sections of prawn before sidling up to the whole one on my size 4 hook. Gills flared, mouth opened and in went the prawn, the fish turned and down went the float.

I struck and played the perch as gingerly and quietly as I could, but as soon as it hit the surface it splashed more than any of the others, almost as if it knew what it was doing! It might seem a tad unfair, not really wanting to catch that perch, and a good one it was too at 2lb 2oz, but initially I thought it had ruined my chances of catching one of the superb carp I’d spotted. Then I reminded myself that I did actually come perch fishing, so I forgave the lovely spiny fish and after a quick mat shot released it a couple of swims down.

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I crept back into position and watched to see if the carp would come back, they did, and even better, it appeared that one or two were starting to show an interest in the bottom instead of cruising two feet above it. I cracked open a tin of luncheon meat in the hope that a torn chunk on the hook might be more selective.

Back to the fishing and I made the worst mistake in the book, twice. I watched as two separate carp upended and went down over the hook bait, and both times struck before waiting for the float to move. Somehow the fish never spooked too far and still they were visiting the spot. I watched one fish, a smaller fish but a very dark one, as it upended and seemed to be enjoying the free chunks of meat I’d thrown in. I lifted the rod gently, teased the bait back a little into its path and the fish made no hesitation sucking it in and moving off taking the float with it.

Upon feeling the hook, the fish tore off right through the snags and brambles. Although it wasn’t the largest fish in the shoal it had bags of spirit and led me a right merry dance. Eventually I had the fish flailing around on the surface with the line and float somehow caught up in some trailing brambles. I could reach out and net the fish, then pull it towards me and bite the line. The downside was that somewhere along the line I managed to snap 3 inches off the tip of my rod, an event that didn’t leave me best pleased.

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Trying my best to put the rod out of my mind I was delighted at the fish I’d just caught, a beautiful dark lean mirror, quite possibly the perfect carp was sat there on the mat before me. After a photo I returned the stunning fish, licked my wounds reference the rod and as I packed away my things I trudged back to the car with a lovely smile on my face. Mission accomplished.