What do you do when you have only a small window of time to fish on a damp dull Saturday afternoon? Had it been June I feel I would have gone stalking carp or maybe had a few hours throwing surface lures, but it wasn't June it was February and neither of the afore mentioned options were open to me. I did consider chub fishing on the upper Avon, but that seemed more an option for a freezing day rather than a day like this which was a balmy 10c. There was though something I had been meaning to check out again... You see I was told a short while back by a match fishing friend that one of the commercial fisheries I sometimes fish for big perch had not thrown a single one up all through the winter league and that it looked like they might have done that thing big perch do after too much pressure and disappear.
I kind of have it my head that these commercial giants might not have disappeared but instead got wise to the methods by which my match fishing compadres were catching them on. From that I surmised that more than likely big baits would be the way to go as not many match anglers use anything bigger than a lob tail or dendrobena to try and catch perch. Whereas I think I might be getting to understand these fish and believe them to be lazy slobs which have grown fat chuffing down leftover dead fish after matches, that are more likely to slowly slurp up a whole massive lobworm than to be bothered to chase a fish around to eat it.
Only thing is with these commercial fish is getting to them, as the list of fish you might have to catch your way through is never ending. The cold normally helps shorten the list by a few species, but when I arrived at a barren commercial pool the sun was out warming the water and carp were boshing out all over. I chose to fish a peg that I had fished before that's got good form in a bottle neck between the two halves of the pool. I like fishing this area as I feel that any perch patrolling have to pass through the area.
Sitting up well back from the edge I set up my fourteen foot float rod with a light float rig and plumbed up carefully to find that the entire area was flat as a pancake. With the lack of features in mind I baited up in a line about four feet long in line with my rod using broken lobs, crushed/whole caster bound together with mole hill soil and liquid worm. With the wind pushing a good tow around the smallish pool I felt the scent of my bait would soon be dispersed at least over a good bit of water. Fishing my float on a very short line from the tip of the rod helped me keep the section of worm I began fishing with tight to the centre of the baited area even with the tow pulling it around.
It was always going to be fifty-fifty on the success front as these shallow pools can fish terribly in the winter months and changeable weather can be the worst thing for them. Luckily it seemed that I had made the right choice for once and quickly something started showing interest in my bait. So began the promenade of various silver fish this lake holds. You would have thought the delicate biting roach would have been last on the list of takers for my large worm section fished on a size eight hook tied direct to four pound line, but no that was not the case. The roach were the first to show up and they were quickly followed by all manner of mixed silvers...
I always feel confident when I am getting bites as I just think it becomes a numbers game before my target turns up. On this occasion though time weighed heavy on my mind and with two hours gone out of the three I was thinking the silver fish might never push off. At this point I went all in, literally! Rather than keep putting bits of bait in I decided to feed hard, leave the swim alone for a while and hope the mass of bait combined with the failing light might spur a perch or two onto the spot. After dumping everything I had bait wise apart from a few hook baits onto the very centre of where I'd been baiting, I left it alone and went off with the dropshot rod I bought along to check out a couple of features.
After spending a short while trying to make a Savage gear 3D bleak look as much like a dying fish as possible in a few choice spots, I returned to my spot baited my hook with the two halves of a split lob worm and swung it onto the spot that I'd been watching all afternoon. What do you know! I watched the float as the worm fluttered down to the bottom, where the float popped up as it did. The float was only still for seconds as the baits arrival had not been missed. Unlike the lighting fast roach bites the float bobbed deliberately before beginning to move away then slowly sinking to the right. My strike found heavy resistance instead of the panic that all the silvers gone into. The fish was powerful but not crazy carp powerful and straight away I knew it was what I was after. Before it was even ready I was fussing with the net trying to get it out of some reeds it was resting on. A brief tussle, a quick slacking of clutch and a big stripy flank rose out of the muddy water into my net.
It was not the biggest perch I've caught from a commercial pool but at well over two pounds it made my day a commercial success and proved that there might be a bit of mileage to my theory that this big commercial perch are still in this venue and that maybe they just need much bigger baits to catch them.