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Targeting Specimen Perch on Lures (Part 1)

Lure fishing for Perch is a method I’ve now been involved with for around a decade. I was one of those anglers who carp-fished all spring, summer, and autumn long to pick up a drop shot rod during winter (along time ago) – just for something to do. It wasn’t ever a serious endeavour but more a chance to try something new and enjoy some time on the bank away from the lake. 

Over time, I have found myself relying more and more on Perch and predator fishing. I used to fish for Carp frequently, but now I am content with occasional sessions. I have been a bailiff at a carp syndicate for over a decade, and this has somewhat diminished my enjoyment of fishing. Therefore, I find the solitude of predator fishing in the middle of the fens to be more appealing. This is also due to the fact that I grew up Pike fishing with my dad, which brings back fond memories.

In recent years, I have focused on locating and fishing for specimen Perch. During the early days, I gained knowledge and caught many smaller perch on different fenland rivers and drains. Now, all that effort is finally paying off.

Big Perch territory 

I have to confess that I joined a club this season that has access to stretches of the Great Ouse river (technically not the Fens). If you’re a fan of Perch fishing, you’d know that the Ouse is home to some giant Perch! I’ve only been there once during the summer, more for scouting than fishing, but I did manage to catch a few small Perch while exploring the riverbanks.

I must admit that the venue I had in mind is about an hour’s drive away, which makes it more suitable for weekend fishing. Therefore, I plan to fish more ‘locally’ during the week. By ‘locally’, I mean within a maximum of 30 minutes driving distance, which would allow me enough time to fish for at least an hour before heading back home and getting ready for work.

The River Nene

I often overlook the nearby river Nene and prefer to fish in the fen drains near Peterborough. While many say the fishing isn’t as good as it used to be, with some effort, you can still catch large Pike, Perch, and Zander. 

I can reach twenty miles or so of the Nene within thirty minutes, so I plan to explore more than fish, focusing on finding likely Perch holding areas. These areas are not as crucial as they are in winter, but they do provide a good starting point for catching Perch. I will consider my progress in blocks of a month or two, rather than worrying about long-term results. Once Perch have been located, no matter the size I’ll work the spot.

Alarm set – Morning assault!

Achieving something valuable usually requires effort and this holds true for fishing as well, with the exception of occasionally catching a good fish without much effort. However, in general, we know that spending more time at the riverbank and applying what we’ve learned leads to better results over time.

One of the things I had to learn was waking up early at 5:00am! I won’t pretend it was easy, but once I got into the car and witnessed some breathtaking sunrises, it became something to look forward to. The main thing is to prepare everything the night before allowing you to just wake up and go without much fuss. 

This session wasn’t far off the back of the chub fishing session I wrote about in a previous blog and still in mind was how the Perch reacted to certain lures. When fishing the Salmo Rattling Hornet I noticed that this would draw out the smaller Perch and sometimes you’d get a much bigger Perch follow. But when presenting the hornet to the bigger Perch there wasn’t much interest leaving you with an empty swim and a blank. 

After some experimenting I came to the conclusion that the bigger Perch were fired up by the prospect of eating the smaller Perch and in doing so revealed their location. Once I’d worked this out effectively all I had to do was find the right lure to entice a bite. It was evident that this particular stretch of the river Nene held some big Perch (bigger than I’d usually catch) and using the method described I would find pockets of bigger fish.

Frantically searching the lure box and working my way through the suitable lures I settled on a Fox Rage Replicant. I noticed that the bigger perch were happy to chase a smaller perch but not the surface lure so with this in mind I threw a lure that would sink. It quickly dived to the bottom and with the line tight I started to wind and jig. BANG! Straight away the rod bent around and I was hooked into a decent perch. The plan had worked and I was officially bricking it, hoping for it not to come off.

It felt like an eternity fighting with this fish, and during the fight another large perch appeared soon to return to the depths. Unfortunately, it quickly disappeared, but I gained valuable insight. There are more targets in this area and as long as they stick around I’ve got a good chance of catching them.

Eventually, the battle was won and I netted an absolute hog of a Perch. Leaving it to rest in the net I tried to make sense of what just happened and asked myself “Is that a PB?” 

It was – the scales settled just over 3lb and of course, this fish needed to be photographed, so once done another rest in the net and released back into the depths to terrorise the local silver fish population for another day.

When the going gets good…

With a new PB acquired and the sun in the sky it was time to head home and get ready for work. The whole way home i was beaming and thinking on when the next outing would happen. Besides the 3lber I was thinking about the other unit of a Perch that showed itself, I wonder how many more were present? For sure it was worth going back even for that one fish, but how many more could be there? 

I know for sure I’ll be returning soon to see if I can repeat my successes.

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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.