I have always had a thing for Perch as discussed earlier. They are in my eyes the most attractive of species and as Richard Walker once said the biggest of all fish in appearance. Even a 1lb Perch looks big, and when they get to 2lb and above they really begin to look spectacular. They develop a hump on their back and look both beautiful but threatening at the same time.
Living in Wiltshire I am surrounded by both lakes and rivers and perhaps all of them contain Perch; untapped specimen Perch potential surrounded me. It wasn’t till I read Chris Yates’ How to Catch Fish that I began to hunt down the elusive monster Perch. He described them beautifully…”with its vivid colours, its striking markings and its superbly bristling demeanour, can send an otherwise dull angler into raptures. The caught my eye and since then I have landed dozens over 1lb and more recently several over 2lb.
After heading over to my girlfriend Mandy’s house I got into a conversation with her father, a keen match man. We began discussing the differences between specimen anglers, match men like himself and the average pleasure angler. We then got onto Perch when John told me that he had once witnessed our clubs record Perch of a colossal 5lb 4oz. At this stage I was plain shocked, I didn’t believe our river held 4lbers; let alone 5lb and above!!! More was to come however. He once to a friend out for his first fishing session where he duly landed a perch which John believed to be a British record; in appearance it was much bigger than the 5lb 40zer he had witnessed. Unfortunately they had no scales and the guy that had caught the Perch didn’t even know what species he had just caught. Quite painful for me to hear!!!
We then got onto locations and the town stretch come up, a place John regularly fishes in matches and when the Roach aren’t feeding he often chucks in a handful of worms and waits for the stripeys to come in. He said bags of 4-5 Perch to 10lb are quite common. That sounded like an average of 2lb a Perch. As soon as I heard this I was itching to cast bait into the river. I then had the offer of a free bag of worms; ten minutes later and I was heading off to river with Mandy in tow.
Mandy got bored fairly quickly and headed into town. I chucked several handfuls of chopped worms in and sat in anticipation. The float looked quite delightful sitting amongst some old leaves and a perfect reflection sat in front of it. A young lad walked over the bridge with his Dad and they stopped and watched me sitting heron like; “what’s he doing Daddy”, “He’s fishing Son”. Seconds later the float bobbed and sailed away and the centre pin reel began to tick. I struck and felt a tug back, could it be a Perch I began thinking. It held deep, and then I saw a flash of silver, by now the young lad and his Dad were behind me watching me battle with this monster. I landed the fish, a Chub of perhaps… 1lb. “can I touch the fish” shouted the boy, “I’ll show you in the net” I told him. By the sounds of it he wanted to start fishing just from witnessing this spectacle. Hopefully I have hooked another fully paid up member of the angler association.
Next minute I heard someone over my shoulder “alright”, I turned and in Mandy’s hand was the most welcoming of gifts in such cold conditions; a cup of Coffee. I grabbed it from her grasp in seconds and began devouring its contents as if I hadn’t drunk anything for days. Pure magic. It then came up that Mandy had never actually witnessed me catch a fish either she was pain unlucky or I had be lying to her about catching anything at all. I began assuring that I had actually caught something when the float stirred. It started moving across the surface but refused to dip under. I was confident this was a Perch, unsure of whether to fully take down the suspicious looking juicy worm. STRIKE. I didn’t let it think. The rod arched round and I was into what felt like a very good fish. By now Mandy had her camera taking action shots at every opportunity and witnessing her first “fish fight”. Coincidentally the same young lad were just going back home as I was in mid battle. Perhaps a good omen. The fish held deep and slowly I worker it to the surface. Stripes. It was definitely a Perch, perhaps a PB? Mandy passed me the landing net and I scooped up my prize. It was a deep bodied, thick set and perfectly proportioned Perch. It looked all of 2 1/2lbs. I rested it back in the river and fetched my scales and sling. All zeroed I placed the perch into the sling and lifted the scales. Past 2lbs but only by 3oz. It settled on 2lb 3oz, My PB River Perch but not my new PB. Later on in the year this fish would certainly reach 3lb; when full of spawn. I let it rest then released it. Swoosh and old stripey disappeared into the depths. I sat back, looked up to Mandy and gave her a cheeky wink and smile; “told you I can catch fish”. I fished on for perhaps another 20 minutes and then decided it was time to head back; brrrrrrrrrrrr. Winter was certainly upon us. Tea time.