Big Perch rewards persistance.

December 11, 2015 at 11:50 pm

Having chanced upon another stretch of my local river, which although close to a narrow lane, had been hidden behind undergrowth during summer, it was now in view through the naked trees, returning this week armed with a pole saw and croppers, intending to cut out a new swim, leaving my rod behind.

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From the road bridge, the river curves round beneath a tree, a virgin section of water protected by a band of brambles 30 feet thick and I set about chopping my way through, coming out onto the bank an easy trot to the overhanging tree. In an hour an area wide enough to accommodate my tackle box had been cleared and I wished that I’d been tempted to bring my gear for a few casts. 

Overnight rain had been rattling against the windows, as yet another winter storm blew in from the Atlantic and the van bow-waved down the flooded lane alongside the river, which was up 6 inches on the day before. The morning clouds had parted to reveal bright sunshine, but with more wind and showers due in the afternoon, I was keen to get fishing from the new swim and was soon sighting my tackle box next to the bank. My usual set up of the Hardy 12 footer, 3 No 4 stick float, a bag of liquidised bread, slices for the the hook, plus a few brandlings from the compost heap for a change of bait, were all I needed, travelling light without spare reels, rod bag, or keepnet.

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The river was now quite coloured, with increased pace, the flow pushing along my side under the brambles, watching the first balls of bread twist and turn, before breaking up. Dropping the float rig in off the end of my rod top, it drifted three feet, then dived under the brambles, as a small chub took the bread, striking sideways to pull the fish away from the bank.

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The net came out for the first of many times for this six ounce chub, the fish lined up in the slower water along the edge, each trot going further down the swim before the float slid away. Specimen hunters will scoff at these chublets, but I have never grown tired of watching a float go under and soon the float needed to reach the confines of the overhanging tree before it sank, each strike being flat level with the surface to avoid the trailing branches, the rod bending double with the initial run.

Gudgeon were now beginning to bother the bread pellet, the float dipping and bobbing, often knocking the bait off, before I could strike. The gudgeon hooked were all good size, fighting deep, but getting in the way of bigger fish and I dipped into the worm box for a fat brandling, cutting it in half , before hooking it on the 16 barbless. First trot down with the worm, the float lifted and drifted across behind the trailing branches, bumping a good fish on the strike. Used to a fast strike on the bread, I’d not allowed enough time for the worm to be swallowed and paid the price again, just a straggly piece of skin left of the brandling.

The tail section now went on and the float made it’s way down to the tree, checking it’s passage from time to time, the sun illuminating the bright orange tip twenty yards away. It buried, I waited, then struck, another hard fighting little chub battling all the way back along the far bank.

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These chub were never been caught, fin perfect fish, some only six inches long with the worm filling their mouths, the float now flirting with a tangle of water borne branches thirty yards away. Again the float sank and I paused, the line then stripping through my fingers, as a much larger fish took. I was not aware that I struck, just of back winding furiously, with the line speeding off round the bend. This had to be a carp, not a chub, as it kept on running out of sight. My 5 lb line was reel bound, briefly failing to pay out, the lightweight Hardy bending beyond it’s test curve, while the 3 lb hook link held. The run slowed and stopped, the fish sulking mid channel, it’s head buried in rotted reeds, immovable. Minutes passed and I was convinced that the barbless hook had been dumped, reeling down for a break, hoping at least to get the hidden float back. A massive swirl told me that the fish was still there and now moving upstream along the far bank, a roll and a kick revealing a deep body in the murk, keeping on the pressure without forcing the issue. Brute force would not win this battle, the fish swimming in spurts upstream, it’s broad back on the surface, then on it’s side, a large perch, all fight gone, relying on it’s weight alone against the flow of the river. Reaching out with the landing net, the big stripey swam in like a sheep entering a pen, much to my relief.

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The size 16 hook was deep inside it’s mouth, easily pushed out with a disgorger, but secure enough to hold. The perch lay there exhausted, it roughly measuring 13 inches compared to my 16 inch net and after a few quick pics I lowered it back into the river in the landing net, keeping it upstream, until ready to swim off. The forecast rain, along with a gusting wind, arrived during this last fight and I took my cue to exit this exposed high bank position for the comfort of the van, then home for a welcome cup of tea.