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Introduction To Perch Fishing By Andy Macfarlane

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Post  Andy Macfarlane Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:39 am

This is a little dated (very dated actually) but it's full of good stuff I think you'll find useful. I found it while I was raking through my fishing folder and I thought some of you might like a gander, be it for the first time or not.

"Introduction To Perch Fishing" by Andy Macfarlane

"Almost everyone with fish on the brain can tell amazing stories of how, at the sprightly age of 8 years old, they caught 269 Perch on their starter rod, a very noisy "reel" loaded badly with 10Lb line, a chuckie and an old hook baited with an endless supply of worms. It is usually this pre-pubescent hunting spree that made us the die-hard anglers we are today. Usually though, these bumper hauls consisted of 6 inch fish that could well have been spawned by the same parents and bigger ones were something of a rarity. We all knew the bigger fish existed because once in a blue moon, a "Big Humpy" would turn up but aiming for them when you had a 10-minute attention span was soul destroying. Usually, as we matured, we would turn our attentions to another species like Trout and Pike and the lowly Perch would be left to the "kids".

I like to argue that I am in fact just a big kid. The truth is, I am simply getting older and I want to hold onto something before it all goes pear-shaped. I ride a BMX, I watch cartoons and on the odd occasion I even wet the bed. Nothing though, makes me feel like an 8 year old quite like hooking into a Perch. The only difference is I am not happy catching 6 inchers anymore. I want the "Big Humpys" and I have the patience now to seek them out. Hopefully, once you have read this, you will down the Pike rod for one week at least and try to find your lost youth, unless of course, you are a youngster.

Before you set out looking for a Specimen Perch, you should try and list the most likely venues that will throw a big one up for you. Just because a water has loads of wee ones does not mean it has a herd of big breeding fish. Perch can spawn when they about 3 inches long so the water may in fact only hold small fish. Highly acidic water is unlikely to have many big fish although the population can be massive. The water should be of a fairly neutral PH and a poke about the bottom (no jokes please) should bring up a healthy supply of shrimps, bugs, beetles and other creatures. If the water seems devoid of life, move on. You are also looking for a water where a roving approach can be utilised. If the bank space is limited and a lot of wading or climbing is required, move on. The water should also have a few features like jetties, islands and shaded areas especially, as the bigger fish do not like bright sunshine. The bottom should have a liberal coating of mud and detritus and heavily snaggy areas are a no-no as lure fishing is a must do. Once you are happy with your chosen venue you should decide which tactics you are going to employ. I will explain how I go about this.

If you have no idea where the big Perch are, you should take 2 rods. One set up with a simple float rig for seeking out the small fish and one set up for spinning only. I will explain why this 2 rod method is required for successfully locating the specimen fish. Only once you are confident you have located the usual holding areas for fingerlings should you lighten the load and travel with one rod.

There is a lot to be said for watercraft and experience in locating fish but Specimen Perch have a quite different set of rules. All this previous knowledge will help in seeking them out though. In order to find the larger stripeys, you have to know where the small fish are. Look for features that may attract shoals of small Perch and aim for them with your float set up. The bait should be worm preferably as I find maggot just creates a frenzied feeding pattern which will, in turn, put the large fish off the feed completely. Once you start hitting the small fish you should try to vary the spread of your casts in order to find the outermost reaches of the shoal in every direction. If the wee ones are biting fast you should be able to build up a mental picture of the shoal perimeter in less than an hour. Visual markers like trees or buoys may help you remember these areas for later visits. In some waters there are no obvious features and the shoal may move continuously. This is where the roving approach comes into play and the float should be used every 15 minutes or so to keep check of where the shoal is at any time.

Ok, so you now know where the smaller ones are and you should have a good idea of the range of the shoal. How will this help in locating the specimen fish? We know that fish like Roach naturally protect their young and siblings by herding them into tight packs with the smallest fish in the centre and the largest or strongest patrolling the edge of the shoal. Almost all prey animals use this method to protect the weak, the young and the elderly and the group can be made up of several different generations. Perch however, have a different idea. There is no love lost between an adult and their young so usually the shoal consists of similarly sized fish. It makes pretty good sense too. If they fear predation from adults of their own kind then they will not tolerate the presence of a "Big Humpy" even if it is Mum or Dad. This does not mean that these prized fish are somewhere completely different. They are nearby. Not close enough to be seen by the shoal but close enough to strike from. A bit like a Cheetah stalking Impala. There will be an area of void space of about 15-25 feet between the pack and any marauding adult Perch so once you have located the edge of your shoal, you should aim your lure 15-25 feet outwith the range of the shoal. Maybe then will you crack onto a large stalking Perch. It is worth remembering that big Perch are almost total loners so if you pick one up from the left of the pack for instance, you should aim to the right or the back of the pack on your next cast and back again. Do not thrash the same area of water to foam, as continual splashing in the same 10 feet of water will put the biggies off the feed. If you stick to this method you can pick off almost every big fish in the surrounding area and that also includes Pike.

"Which lure should I use because there are millions on show and I'm new to all this?”
Many people buying lures are taken in by the bright colours, shiny patterns, wobbling action and the "Proven fish catcher" label that adorns lots of packets these days. Collecting all these glittery trinkets can drive you to madness in search of THE lure. I've tried loads of them and to be honest, nothing can whack a Size 1 "Mepps" type spinner in Silver, Gold or Bronze. The conditions dictate the colour of blade you use. Silver for dark or muddied water. Gold for almost every condition, light allowing of course and Bronze when fishing gin clear water. Ondex, Rublex and Voblex lures are also good Perch takers but more often than not, they pick up Pike and that may not suit you rod or your tackle. Tobies and bar spoon type lures are ok too but again, they tend to pick up the larger predators. These days, I make most of my spinners etc. I hated paying through the nose for lures that didn't meet my specifications. Now I can have any colour or size of spinner I want.

To try something a little different, you could cut the treble from the lure and attach a split ring. This gives you many options. You can attach grubtails, twin-tails, mini bucktails, swimbaits or anything you think, might just give the lure that extra edge. I've taken to adding single hooks and grubs. The rippling tail action is brilliant and you can tow the lure through weeds without too much fuss. Streamers made from red Marabou can be deadly also. There’s something about Marabou that fish find fascinating. Wet and out of water, it takes on a limp, lifeless appearance that looks like nothing in particular. Cast it out and tow it through the water and it takes on a whole new lease of life that Perch find irresistible. If you feel chopping up lures is going too far, try adding a bunch of red wool or John Roberts Baitsaver to the end treble. Once your catch rate improves, you'll have the wire cutters out soon enough. Plugs and ultralites also have their place in the right hands. Unfortunately, I’m utterly useless with either. There's an invitation for an article if I've ever seen one!

The set-up on your spinning rod should be kept as simple as humanly possible. Perch are very tackle shy and they will scrutinise your tackle for 20 feet only to refuse it in front of your face. A very small celluloid anti-kink vane may be incorporated but that is all you want. Big Jardine spirals and Wye leads make a hell of a racket and should be avoided like the plague. Wire traces may be required wherever there are Pike but again these can be off-putting. I'm currently trying a 49 strand wire that looks like brown thread. It doesn't kink too easily and it looks fairly discreet. If there are no Pike present in the water, I would do away with any attachments and simply tie the lure directly onto you line. You may after a few sessions encounter line twist but at £6 for a bulk spool of half-decent line, you can hardly complain if you have to change it regularly. I've also noticed that snap-link swivels, although handy for quick changing lures, allow the spinner body to gyrate in the opposite direction to the blade. This slows the rotation of the blade, which in turn, kills the appeal of the lure. Fluorescent lines suitable for Pike fishing are no good for Perch. Again, they will refuse the lure although they may inspect it. Very infuriating. If the fish are cracking your lure 6 inches from the tip of your rod, a buffer bead may be attached 6 inches from the lure for 2 reasons. You do not want to slow your retrieve when the lure approaches the rod and you do not want to damage your rod. Buffer beads are also of great use when fishing in the dark. A broken eye or a damaged rod tip is a right pain so such occurrences are best avoided.

The action required by a Perch lure is very different to the jerky, erratic motion you would employ when Pike fishing. The retrieve should be mechanical, even paced and ever so steady. Different speeds may be tested on alternate casts to see which turns the fish on but I generally find that you should slow the lure down until the blade looks as if it might actually stop. Perch are not the nimblest of fish and the retrieve speeds associated with Trout and Pike fishing are normally far too quick for these hunters to keep up with and they will rarely make the effort to even try. If you hit one at a decent clip, the chances are you landed the lure right in front of its face and refusal was unlikely. Marginal success does not make for a sound technique. Depth may also play a major part in whether or not you have any success. In Summer, Perch will gladly take a lure 2 inches under the surface, which makes for some explosive action. In Winter, you may have to fish 2 inches off the bottom. I have taken big Perch in 22 feet of water, in the middle of January but admittedly, the fishing can be a little slow. The good thing is, if you hit a fish at a particular depth, this is the depth the others are likely to be found at.
I prefer to count down when my lure hits the water as additional weights are noisy and unbalance the action of the lure. It may be worthwhile flicking your lure into 10 feet of clear water to monitor its descent. Once you know the drop rate of your lure, you should then apply this knowledge when casting into your target area.

Bait fishing for these beauties can be an infuriating affair. Although small hook baits can and do take large Perch, it is worth remembering that a 3 incher can totally engulf a size 10 hook with the tiniest offering dangling from the barb. Usually the smaller fish will find your bait because of their massive numbers and all that time spent digging worms can seem like a waste of time. It is quite possible however to lessen the chances of hooking a wee one. I have found that a big Perch will comfortably swallow a size 6, or even a size 4 hook baited up with 2 or 3 large Lobworms. Bites can be differentiated easily because the smaller fish tend to poke and nibble at the large bait, rather than bolt with it. Try to find a good carbon hook with a long shank and a wide gape. Not only do these hooks keep the little blighters off your line but they have an excellent hook-up rate. Cheap, flexible wire hooks should be avoided because an over-zealous strike is needed to set the barb and that action may just damage the fish. Perch have an armoured mouth that will repel all but the sharpest of hooks. A large offering is also more likely to grab the attentions of a good fish, regardless of how shy they are. When legering, baits can be popped up with a little cork or rig foam mounted on the shank of the hook. Again, red seems to be the colour of choice although yellow or white can be equally attractive on some days. Float fishing can be quite effective also. The rig doesn't have to be complicated. Just make sure the depth is variable and you shouldn't have any bother. Twitching and retrieving float-fished baits can outscore static baits if the Perch are actively hunting.

Worms, once dug, should be kept in a dark, opaque container with plenty of ventilation. The medium should consist of a wet-ish mixture of sand, acid free soil, newspaper and moss. This mix will toughen the skin and the excessive water content will be absorbed by the worms, making them fat and juicy. On the day before you actually intend to fish, take all the worms you require and give them a good rinse and place then in a clean container with fresh medium. It can be hard to gauge how many worms you actually require and normally I find I come back with most of the worms I left with. Go easy. Maggots should never be used as I find the smell alone will drive the small fish into a frenzy and the big fish shy away from such activity. Small fish also have a knack for finding maggots first.

I spent a great deal of time over the last 2 years putting my efforts into seeking out Specimen Perch. All my theories have been tried and tested and my labours are bearing fruit in a BIG way. I have taken more than 200 2Lb Perch from various locations, my biggest being 3lb 12oz. I truly believe these methods could deliver me a record fish or a right clonker anyway. I can dream. The only thing I have to do now is find the correct venue and put these methods into regular practice. Watch this space.

...Andy "The Poachmeister" Macfarlane..."
Andy Macfarlane
Andy Macfarlane

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Introduction To Perch Fishing By Andy Macfarlane Empty Re: Introduction To Perch Fishing By Andy Macfarlane

Post  harelawhenry Fri Mar 29, 2013 5:16 pm

ur welcome out for a day with me andy always enjoyed ur banter, few of the pikers had em to 4 from harelaw on deads..... Very Happy


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