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Featured on Fisherman's Blues - Talksport2

Targeting Specimen Perch on Lures (Part 2)

Following on from a perch session a week or so ago I was itching to get back out and find out if the school of perch I’d previously located was still present. Last week I managed to track down these fish and land a new personal best of just over 3lb. 

Whilst I was connected to this fish I saw another perch of a similar size, if not bigger so naturally I wanted to find out if I could nail this one too. 

Where we left off…

As we all do, I began where I left off by using the Fox Rage Replicant in a 7cm size. This was still on the rod and in the hope that they might fall for it again I began working the water. After some time and casting in various likely areas, it was evident that if the perch were still here, they did not want this lure. 

I’m not too sure how much credit to actually give the fish when it comes to them being caught on certain lures before the action stops but it did. Do they really recognise a threat so soon, or is it the case that simply a number of many other factors have changed?

Either way, I was confident it was time to change up the lure. The day was forecast to be a hot one but with it being first thing in the morning the air temperature were relatively low. The water temperature however were still up due to days and days of uninterrupted sunshine. 

My immediate thought was that these fish might still be up for a chase and want a lure that could be retrieved relatively quickly and something that resembled their usual prey. So I set to work with varying crank lures that allowed me to fish the top, middle and bottom sections of the river.

Time was pressing on and with work looming after giving almost every lure i owned a chance, I was running out of options. 

When things don’t go to plan

I tend to carry two smaller tackle boxes with me, one containing lures I can fish quickly, either mid or topwater – lures such as the classic Ondex Spinner, the Salmo Rattling Hornet, various jig lures and so on.

The second tackle box contained what I call my winter or slower-retrieved lures with sticks, worms, creatures etc – a selection normally reserved for later on in the season. 

I had nothing to lose and with some time left, I tied on a drop shot rig armed with a Floating Finesse Stick. I had recently ordered these from FFS Lures with the intention of keeping them for the winter but I thought anything is worth a go at this point right?

Touch down

The weight of the rig touched down and I could feel the bottom with every drop of the rod tip. The spot I was fishing seemingly was a little clearer of weed than what was surrounding it so I explored where the weed would start and stop allowing me to know the rough area I could fish without having to reel in and pull weed off time and time again. 

It was on one of these exploratory casts I felt a tug on the line. The smallest of nips! So casting back to the same spot I started working it again. Another tug on the line and this time it was followed by those familiar head shakes – we’re connected!

And we’re off!

The perch wasn’t a big fish but it was very welcome. After slipping it back in the water I continued. A few more obliging perch of up to roughly 1lb in weight were landed. Awesome I thought, this seems to be working. 

I made a conscious effort to release the perch further downstream – even the smaller fish! I did this for two reasons. Firstly, this ensured that there wouldn’t be any repeat captures, and the second reason was, once released they wouldn’t return to the shoal and spook whatever else may be residing there. 

I checked my watch again and having about half an hour left I continued fishing, working the drophshotted lure closer to some snaggy submerged structure this time. Having caught some perch I was now experimenting with varying degrees of imparted action. From aggressive, quite quick lifts and drops to holding the line and rod static and letting the flow work the lure. 

It was during this experiment I had an aggressive slam and immediately the rod bent over. I was hooked into what I thought might be a pike given it was peeling line and it wasn’t until later in the fight the head shakes came revealing that this was infact a perch. The fish surfaced enough to clearly see that this was a much larger perch. Once landed I made the effort to weigh, measure and photograph it. 

The perch was in mint condition and the scales settled above 2lb. This time instead of immediately releasing the fish I kept it in the net to allow it time to rest. The net I use has quite a long handle and deep netting which allows it to rest in the water without much effort other than a foot on the handle. 

Honey hole located

I continued fishing and the bites kept on coming! Little did I know but I had found the honey hole. In rapid succession, I had landed 3 x 2lb+ perch with a couple of 1lb perch for good measure. All of these fish came from the exact same spot slamming into the lure almost as soon as the dropshot weight touched down. 

I’ve had a few chats with various anglers of differing abilities regarding perch fishing and pack mentality arriving almost always at the same conclusion. When a perch is fired up and attacks the lure, whether or not it’s caught, this behaviour seems to ‘wake up’ the pack. 

I’m almost certain that when this behaviour results in successful catches, if those fish are kept from returning to the pack (either in a landing net or safely returned further downstream) the ‘feeding or attacking frenzy’ continues and that’s how these rapid multi-catches can happen. You as an angler, in the heat of the moment have to be switched on to it happening as it can be over in a flash. 

Time was up so once I weighed, measured and returned each of the perch it was time to hit the road. A second amazing session! Surely now after catching a decent hoard of 2lb+ perch and disturbing the hell out of that area, the jig might be up? I guess we’ll find out next time I manage to get out. 

On reflection

I think the key takeaway from this session was that when the familiar doesn’t work keep trying alternatives until something does. Try those lures that are supposed to be ‘winter lures’, change up the rigging and move spots. 

Many of us tend to want to repeat the process of previous success and not change things up – myself included. Then, when the bites don’t materialise the sessions can often end in disappointment. I now know for sure that when I return to the river I’ll be armed with an assortment of lures just in case the same thing happens again.

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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.