Winter Perch Fishing

Having got a couple of days off work, I decided to venture out for a day perch fishing with my other half Gemma on a local day ticket water in search of some fat stripeys. The weather was warm and the skies were overcast so I was looking forward to the day as I anticipated the fish would be on the feed.

I decided to head to Pool Bridge Farm, it is a venue I have fished a couple of times the previous summer, and having spoken with a number of anglers about the fish stocks I had been told of perch being caught up to the 3lb mark. With information like that, I knew I had to give the place a go during the colder months.

We arrived at Pool Bridge just after 8am and conditions for perch fishing were ideal, it was relatively warm and the skies were overcast with a slight breeze. I was disheartened to see that the cafe was closed during mid week in the winter, as I had been day dreaming of a bacon sandwich on the drive over! Undeterred we had a look round and decided to fish Normans lake which is typical of many day ticket waters around the country and is stocked with bream, carp, crucians, tench, silvers and of course perch.

Normans lake averages about 6-7 feet and has two small islands with willow trees overhanging the water. I opted to set up opposite the largest island which had a willow dangling its branches into the water, this would be the first area I would target, with my second area being the corner peg on my right which had numerous reed beds which had died back in the margin.

Gemma fished a waggler on the marginal shelf on our left which also benefited from a willow tree sweeping its branches onto the water surface.

To kick off both swims we catapulted a few pouches of red maggots. Straight away the water boiled with small roach which was a sign that the silvers were active and would hopefully trigger the large stripeys to investigate the commotion.

I opted to use a small 12g free running Drennan swimfeeder on a 6lb mainline tied to a small swivel with buffer bead in place to stop any damage to the knot on the cast. My hook length was 4lb and that was tied to a size 10 barbless hook.

Gemma's rig consisted of a small crystal waggler fished on a 6lb main line, connected to a micro swivel and 4lb hook length with size 14 barbless hook. She used a simple shotting pattern which consisted of a no 4 shot 6 inches above the swivel and a tell tale shot 6 inches below the swivel fished a couple of inches over depth to help combat the water movement.

Once my swim feeder was loaded with red maggots I hooked four maggots to the size 10 hook and cast towards the island landing the feeder below the willow branches. Immediately I was getting movements on the rod tip indicating there was a lot of silver fish activity around the feeder and brushing past the main line. After a few minutes the rod tip wrapped round to indicate I had a fish on and I was soon reeling in a small roach which had somehow managed to get the size 10 hook in its mouth. I began to catch a steady stream of roach for the next thirty minutes before i decided enough was enough and I would get the king prawns out to stop the roach from biting.

Gemma had by now caught a good few roach and even some very unseasonable tench with her red maggot approach on the marginal shelf. One particular carp didn’t seem bothered by the noise we were making and gently cruised past her feet in the photograph on the right.

She was now getting cocky and ribbing me about my lack of bites when my rod tip when straight and my line slack, I struck up with the rod to find solid resistance, the hooked fish made a few short runs and i quickly had it in the net. It was the first perch of the day and although I did not weigh it, I would estimate it was around the pound mark. After few quick snaps, it was back in the water.

I wanted to quickly get the bait back on the same spot as I was sure there would be more perch of a similar size accompanying that perch. No more than 20 seconds after the feeder hit the water, the rod tip wrapped round and I felt the pull of a much larger fish, it didn’t feel like a small carp or tench, so I was hoping that I had caught a bigger perch, but before I could get a look, it made a spirited run for the reed beds near my feet, I lifted the rod in the opposite direction and it soon changed course and went straight over the rim of the landing net.

It was another perch and much larger than the previous one and had a nice plump belly to it. Once unhooked and in the weigh sling the scales settled and showed it was just under two and a half pounds. It was a cracking fish with great markings down both flanks and I felt chuffed to have caught it. Once safely back in the water I could dry my hands and let Gemma know just how few perch she had caught :P

Unfortunately after that perch I didn't catch another and nor did Gemma, despite us both casting to different areas in front of us. We persevered for another couple of hours until late afternoon in the hope of catching some more perch in the fading light, but it was not to be. We did however continue catching roach which kept us busy and provided some good fun.

It had been a good day with a good sized perch landed and also enough silvers to keep us warm and occupied on a cold winters day.

Adam - HC