This winter I will be predominantly trying to catch some big specimen sized UK predatory fresh water fish. I will be using a variety of methods depending on what I am targeting but where possible I will be trying to catch the fish on lures and spinners.
My personal favourite is the Perch and through November this will be my primary target. In past years I have had some success catching fish to 3lb 2oz from the river Thames on lures so this is how I plan to start my campaign. Small silver lures are a favourite of mine but in truth Perch are greedy and aggressive predators and will regularly attack lures bigger than their own body size. The aim is to beat that personal best and try to catch a real monster. If I achieve that target, Pike will be the next fish on my hit list. I will write and post monthly progress reports throughout the winter to let you know how I am getting on, fingers crossed.
In the past I have found small silver lures to be a very effective way of targeting river perch, so my first session I went armed with my favoured Silver flicker and I quickly landed 5-6 perch, mainly smaller ones but at least 2 of them were fish over 1lb so I was really happy with how things had started. A couple of casts after returning one of the small perch I got a hit that had my 7ft spinning rod doubled over. I knew straight away that this was no perch and I was forced to give line.
After a really hard fight I had a real nice Pike safely in the net and, although not what I was after, at 14lb 15oz it was a more than welcome surprise especially on light gear. After a couple of pictures the fish went home and I was back to casting my lures around. I had one more bite on that first session, at first the way the fish was fighting I thought I had hooked a real good perch but then I caught a glimpse of something silver fighting hard on the end of my line. I assumed it was small-ish Pike. But as the fish neared the surface I realised it was a good sized Chub, the first I have ever caught on a lure and at just over 4lb it was another welcome surprise.
The next couple of sessions were a mixed bag with some producing a few more smaller perch and some producing nothing at all, I did bank a nice 2lb perch during these sessions which gave me encouragement that the fish were getting better.
Midway through November on one particular session I was starting to think was going to be a blank, I decided to try a jointed minnow lure instead of the trusty silver flickers and after a couple of casts I received a strong hit. I could tell straight away by the way the fish was fighting that this was a good Perch and once I had safely netted it I could tell it was going to be over the magical 3lb mark. On the scales the fish went 3lb 3oz a new P.B by one ounce but more importantly the big specimen I was after.
My next session was one that will stay etched into my memory for a long time. The first couple of casts resulted in a bite from another good fish that thought real hard and at 2lb 15oz was another monster perch. This fish looked cracking in the pics with its dorsal fin standing proud. Things just felt like they were really coming together. The rest of the session went slowly but to be honest I was more than happy with the 2lb 15oz fish and decided after one more cast I would call it a day. Well the decision to make one more cast really paid off as the lure was hit by a really powerful fish that had my light spinning rod doubled over and the drag giving line. My instant thought was I had hooked a good pike until I caught a glimpse of the fish fighting deep down and I realised I had hooked one of those special “fish of a life time” fish.
After realising the fish I was attached to was a perch my heart was in my throat for the rest of the fight, desperate not to lose it. Thankfully I got the fish in the net and up on to the scales, where the fish weighed an incredible 4lb 8oz, a true monster of a fish. After doing some photos I held the fish in the river to recover. I was still in shock as I held the incredible fish until it was ready to swim away, at which point I let out a triumphant yell.
At the start of the month when I made the decision to start my predator campaign targeting Perch I certainly didn’t dream of catching a 4lb+ fish, add to that a 3lb 3oz fish, 2 2lb+ fish, half a dozen other 1lber’s and a couple of surprise bonus fish November has been an extremely successful month.
Originally I planned to continue targeting Perch through December and move onto Pike in January and February but having caught such an awesome fish already, I have now decided to make a start on my Pike fishing in December (although I’m sure I won’t be able to resist another go for the stripeys before the winter is over) . So watch this space to see how I get on.