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perch fishing with lures on the canal

AWAY DAYS 2: Lure Fishing For Perch on the Canal

This past weekend, I had an afternoon free so lure fishing on the canal was in mind. My expectations were modest—just a few bites from small perch would suffice to fill the afternoon.

Typically, I prefer to head out at the crack of dawn, but this time, fishing in the mid-afternoon was the plan, despite my reservations. After all, a day on the canal is far better than a day cooped up at home or, worse, doing house chores.

perch fishing with lures on the canal

Upon arriving at the canal, I made my way to a promising spot I had discovered on Google Maps the previous evening. When scouting for fishing locations, I always look for obvious structures, and if they feature slack water, even better. This spot had both, making it an ideal choice in an otherwise featureless stretch, save for a few scattered bushes and reeds. With summer approaching, the bait fish would be more dispersed, potentially making perch harder to find. But I remained optimistic; any perch would be a delight to catch.

I brought along two rods: my trusty drop-shot rod, already rigged, and another rod equipped with a fluorocarbon leader and a clip for quick method changes. This setup allowed me to switch between cranks, surface lures, or bottom lures effortlessly. Given my preference for drop-shotting, I started there.

Initially, not much was happening, and this continued for quite some time. As I walked to the spot, I noticed a boat had recently passed by. With the warmer weather, more boats were out, and in narrow sections, locks, or under bridges, they can cause quite a disturbance. Using this as a convenient excuse, I blamed the lack of activity on the boat traffic.

After about twenty casts, I began to feel small plucks at the lure. I was using a 100mm Finesse Fluke (in Junebug colour) from FFS Lures, believing the larger profile and dark silhouette would be enticing in the murky water and maybe pick off a larger specimen. The nibbles continued, so I downsized the lure to 50mm Finesse Fry Shad which was a similar lure to the above, except it was obviously smaller in size and had a paddle tail (still in Junebug colour). Casting it back to the same spot, I immediately got a hit on the drop and reeled in the smallest perch I’ve ever seen. Success, albeit small, had saved me from a blank day.

I continued to work both the near and far margins, with bites coming more confidently now. The perch seemed quite selective, preferring to strike on the drop rather than during a slow, methodical retrieve. I wondered if the drop of the lure under the weight of the the drop shot weight was kicking the paddle tail enough to draw a bite? Picking up on this pattern, I made more casts, letting the lure and weight sink before giving it a couple of twitches and repeating the process. After catching three or four perch, the bites slowed, which was expected.

Just as I was experiencing success, another boat passed through, and in my opinion, disrupted the area once again. Deciding to explore further up the bank, I moved with no measurable success. The exploration was rewarding in its own right, allowing me to familiarize myself with the new venue. I walked about a mile to a bridge downstream, where the canal shallowed, and the water clarity improved. It didn’t look promising, so I headed back.

perch fishing with lures on the canal
A 2lb 8oz canal perch

Like any desperate angler, I returned to the spot where I had earlier success. The area had settled from the boat and the torrent of water released from an upstream lock. On the fourth or fifth cast, I felt a solid thump as soon as the drop-shot weight hit the bottom. I quickly reeled in and cast again. Bang—there it was. I set the hook, and the reel’s drag started peeling line. The familiar head shakes signalled I had hooked a decent perch.

The fish surfaced, and to my delight, it was indeed a sizable perch, not a pike or zander. After a spirited battle, I netted the perch and let it rest while I prepared the scales and mat. The perch weighed in at 2lb 8oz—a brilliant catch for this time of year. Mission accomplished, I rested the fish once more before releasing it back into the canal. A phrase a good friend once told me rang in my head “Don’t leave fish to find fish” and it couldn’t be truer. However this time my excuse was the boat traffic – I am often guilty of exploring other swims too quickly and not picking apart a chosen swim in the first place.

Content with the day’s success, I decided it was time to head back to my car. I made a few half-hearted stops along the way, but my focus had waned. The day was won, and I was ready to go home. With a 60-mile journey ahead, setting off earlier than planned felt like a bonus.

Not read the first instalment of ‘Away Days’? Read it here.

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Steve Evans
Steve Evans

Founder & Chief Editor of Predator Fishing World. Steve has been predator fishing for well over a decade and has amassed a deep knowledge base to share with you.