Frosty Morning

Frosty Morning

Monday, 1 December 2014

Blenheim Palace - Glorious Perch

At least once a year myself, father and brothers organise a fishing trip to the Capability Brown landscaped Blenheim Palace. Although the fishing hasn't been fantastic for us, the surroundings have always won us over. There's always the mention of 30lb + pike and 4lb+ perch, combine this with a 40 acre lake and a misty morning on a punt and it's our idea of  fishing heaven.

We left for Woodstock at a leisurely 6:45am, with it being a straight forward journey from home in Corsham we arrived at around 8:30am. We looked across the grand lake and to be honest could see absolutely nothing. A sea of fog hung across the lake giving us little visibility past the end of our nose's.

As a friend had dropped out the night before due to illness I had to decide whether to take a boat on my own or join my brother and father on their boat. As much as I like my own company I didn't like it enough to sit on a punt for 8 hours on my own. I went for the latter and squeezed the three of us in one boat. I probably wouldn't recommend this as we really were packed on their like sardines. My other brother and his friend followed us out from the boathouse.

We loaded up the boat, untangled the anchor and drifted out into the fog full of optimism and visions of the legendary Pike and Perch that were swimming beneath us amongst the 18ft of water. We found a wonderful area of over-hanging trees and flicked out a combination of sea baits including mackerel and sprats between our 6 rods. I had one out on a float drifting around and ledgered the other. My father and brother both ledgered having caught on previous trips to this method.

As the the fog turned to mist a beautiful lake appeared before our eyes, the sun burst through the trees and lake became alive with the chorus of the birds that surrounded us in the trees. We breathed in the atmosphere and enjoyed the morning, it really was a sight to behold.

We noticed that on my other brothers punt he was into a fish, perhaps a small pike judging by the arch in the rod. He scooped up the fish, unhooked it and held it aloft to show us how it was done.

Although a jack, she was in beautiful condition and was perhaps a sign of things to come? A few hours drifted by and we decided it was time to move in to another area, we decided to stick with margin swims, with the lake being 40 acres and only 10 boats present we had an awful lot of areas to choose from.

As the morning turned to afternoon we had perhaps tried several swims without success between us; looking across to other boats it seemed we were not the only ones. The common theme was that the anglers were there for the lake and atmosphere first and  the chance of a fish second which really is testament to its beauty.

We were beginning to think that our luck was out when my brother noticed a tap on his rod, this repeated itself several times over but didn't go around with any conviction. Not a moment longer was spared to prevent the deep hooking of the hungry fish, Seb lifted into the rod and felt nothing an first. He then tightened down and felt what he thought was a jack pike. That was until a glorious, huge framed perch rolled on the surface and for a moment time stood still. We all gasped and fumbled for the landing net.  Somehow one of the arms cracked and fell away from the spreader block but this didn't stop us sweeping up this monster from the lake.

To be honest the fight was anything but glorious but the fish however blew us all away. The biggest surprise however was the tactic used to catch the fish. A predator plus soaked sprat! I guess when you think about it Perch will take static baits such as casters and prawns so why wouldn't they take a dead fish as opposed to a lure or live bait?

Our initial estimations were that the fish could be nudging 4lb, it's frame was vast but it's belly was empty. The scales settled on 3lb 5oz and the smile on my little brothers face made the day something truly special . He blew his PB out of the water and smiled with a fish that would make even an ardent specimen hunters season. 

As a result of this session we are already planning our next visit with Perch as a sole target, perhaps February/ March when their bellies are truly bulging. Who knows; we might catch a 4lber?

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