In search of large Perch 2016
In search of large Perch 2016
Some information on hunting down specimen Perch in Ireland. At the end of this article you will find a guide to tackle required and some links to deals.
Perch waters (and I am talking about fish of 2-3lbs) can be extremely un-stable when it comes down to consistency in showing up on rod and line. They don’t appreciate being caught too often and soon become wise to an angler’s tactics. The old adage “once bitten, twice shy” is extremely apt when targeting specimen Perch. To be consistent with catches, it pays to have several venues to target, allowing when possible to leave one in peace for a period of time to “settle down”.
Carefully releasing a decent specimen
With the perceived rarity of Irish waters containing large Perch, this is easier said than done! Other than a friendly angler letting you in on some “perchy” information, the only other way to find a worthy venue is to get off your backside, get out there and search! And the simplest way to start your search is to check out all the small lakes, loughs, rivers, ponds and pits near to you, working outwards in an increasing radius on the map until you strike gold. Yes, its hard work, but the rewards can be fabulous. I’ve lost count of the number of whining anglers wanting short-cuts to great days on the water, go out and discover them, put in some work. You get out what you put in!
A new water that was well worth a survey!
I find the best method by far is to target small, isolated and over-grown waters from the relative comfort of a float tube. Float tubes or “belly boats” have gained in popularity, as have kayaks. This is due in some part to the relatively low costs involved in getting afloat when compared to standard lake boats, but also from their ease of access to otherwise un-fished waters. Float tubes are light-weight and easily carried across fields and through reed beds. You don’t require a slipway to launch, and you also have the added bonus of extreme stealth! Obviously room is limited somewhat which necessitates scaling down the equipment and tackle required, but always include a flotation vest!
Most healthy waters will hold a large Perch or two. The problem lies with other species that are normally present, such as Pike, juvenile Perch, Eels, Roach and Rudd etc., and importantly, how to avoid them! If your preferred tactics are lure fishing, it’s “sods law” that Pike will queue to be caught. You will have to decide whether to keep the tackle light in a bid to target large wary Perch but risk “bite-offs” every so often, or “beef” up the gear with heavier main line and a wire biting trace which should land a Pike but normally tends to put “stripeys” off!
Not a specimen, but still a beautiful fish to quickly admire before release
If you bait fish with maggots or worms you will be tortured by Roach and Rudd etc. and if you opt for dead-baits then old Esox is never far away. It’s a dilemma alright and one that can only be solved by individual decision and/or choice of venue. Obviously it will be made a heck of a lot easier if your new found venue has a healthy population of large Perch that also happen to be the apex predator!
Worms, lures or dead-baits? Each venue is different
Back in 2000, I found a wonderful water that had both huge Roach and large Perch. It was soon wiped out by immigrant over-fishing, with a take everything you catch policy. There, I’ve said it, and not for the first time, now put the racism cards away please. There’s no excuse for law breaking and other angling criminality no matter what race, religion or creed you happen to be! Catch, photograph, release and leave stocks for future generations to explore and enjoy, and respect the waters you fish and the law of the country you happen to be fishing in. Ireland once earned a respectable amount of money from angling-based tourist revenue. This has depleted over recent years and will soon evaporate altogether unless drastic measures are soon implemented!
Always handle our species with care
Quick and careful release, safe to grow and give another angler pleasure
With this wonderful water resigned to a case of “what used to be” it took twelve years of sulking before I felt the urge and sufficient passion to seek out some large “stripeys” once again. An angling mate, Glenn Drennan joined me in the hunt as we spent umpteen week-ends and hundreds of hours afloat meticulously seeking out and surveying both known and new waters alike, and were eventually rewarded for our efforts.
Slow trolling, a simple and effective method to cover a new area
This year it was time to start looking again, and a new water beckoned. Rumours of the odd decent Perch taken while targeting Tench eventually found their way to me on the angler’s grape-vine and without a second thought, I was soon bobbing about on said venue trolling tiny Rudd dead-baits under “flipper power”. It soon became obvious that Pike were the apex predator here, as I was forced to re-tackle after several “bite-offs”! The relatively small size 8 carp hooks would cause little harm to a Pike, and with plenty of pre-tied end rigs, it’s a quick and easy matter of re-tying another hook-length and carry on regardless. If Pike become too much of a nuisance then it will be a tactical re-think or change of venue!
Adult Perch, always a pleasure to catch!
As I was currently trolling two baits behind the float tube, it made sense to bait one with large worms, and flick the float amongst weed cover, seeking out small clear patches where an ambush predator may be waiting. It was not long before the worm bait worked its magic, float slipping below the surface and a tentative scrap amongst weeds and lily pads. A healthy Perch at over a pound which was fabulous to see, not least because it proved the rumours were right. Large Perch did exist in this venue. I just had to find the bigger brutes, more paddling required!
Persistance produces a bigger stamp of fish
Persistence finally paid off with a hard-hitting Perch burying the float. Pound for pound, they leave the fighting abilities of Pike somewhere in the distance! Just a pity they wouldn’t grow to double figures! Despite this, they are stunning animals to behold, vivid in colour and spectacular with the large dorsal fin giving the impression of pure attitude! Any Perch over two pounds is a fabulous fish, and admiring this one at three pounds pushes all the hard work and previous blank sessions into the back recesses of the memory banks.
Pure attitude! Who wouldnt wish to land a large, hard-fighting Stripey?
Of course, having found another gem of a water, it is extremely difficult to leave it alone, especially as it is so close to home. Several consequent visits produced similar results, and now, with my Perch “fix” satiated, it is time to move on, to leave these guys in peace for the rest of the year and seek out another species in the never ending hunt for that fish of a life-time. I’m starting to sound like James T. Kirk aboard the Enterprise!
The following is the tackle I currently use, and although only a recommendation, I find it is a great combination and fits the bill nicely for my requirements.
If you are serious in your search for Perch, I strongly recommend a float tube or “belly boat”. This allows access to isolated, over-grown waters that most anglers won’t have fished. In other words, virgin territory! Many of these exciting waters hold large fish that are mainly un-disturbed from outside interference, but they are disappearing fast.
An older float tube version, rounded bow and sitting lower in the water
There are several styles of float tube on the market, at various costs, but the easiest to paddle and steer on the water are the versions with a pointed bow rather than the rounded style. Later designs are superb with plenty of pockets and add-on goodies, and a seat that keeps most of your body out of the water, a god-send when winter fishing. Other than that, you will require carry straps to carry the boat on your back, flippers for paddling, chest waders to keep you dry and importantly, a quality flotation vest. Safety afloat and common sense should always prevail.
Newer versions (the ODC 420) sit higher, much better for casting and for keeping warm in winter
Make sure you have enough pockets for bait, lures, forceps, weighing scales if required, camera, snacks etc.
The "Outcast" model. More expensive but great kit. Lots of storage, comfortable, even has a bow roller!
For rods, I use standard “drop-shot” rods. They are light and sensitive yet reasonably powerful. The butt section is short enough not to get in the way with the limited space, and of course, they can be used for standard drop-shotting, lead-heading or adapted for float fishing with dead-baits, worm baits and so on. Personally I use an older Berkley "Skeletor" and the new Shakespeare Agility Drop-shot rods, teamed up with small 300 sized spinning reels and 8lbs braid.
A specimen Perch and the Agility Drop-Shot rod from Shakespeare
Hook lengths when dead-baiting and bait-fishing are Berkley 8lbs Trilene Fluorocarbon with Owner size 8 Carp hooks, and sometimes an Owner size 10 treble hook as a “stinger” if I’m “missing” takes.
Looking for tackle ideas? Check out your local tackle shops or links below.
Float tubes online
Drop-Shot Rods online
Drop shot lures
Stay safe on or near the water, and Tight lines, Terry.