What is the best method to catch a specimen perch this winter? That answer isn’t simple as a number of factors are involved every time you go fishing that will dictate the winning tactic. This can range from the colour of the water to the distance needed to fish so it’s easy to make a mistake but having a range of tactics in your armoury will certainly assist you in this quest. To help highlight this I headed to the river recently in tricky conditions where a bite looked hard to come by.
Drop shotting has taken the UK perch scene by storm with seemingly everyone and their dog waggling worms! The appeal is obvious as not only can it be highly effective also the near zero preparation is attractive to many anglers with limited time. It’s cool to twitch plastic and bait fishing is reserved for old fogeys but is it always the answer? For 20 minutes I worked the sparkling imitations around the bridge, its pillars a magnet for floodwater debris and surely perch? I refused to believe the brickwork structure was devoid of life but it took 15 minutes to prove it as the rod tip finally tapped to the tune of a meagre set of stripes. Not at all fruitful and time to move on but that wasn’t the plan today as I was running an experiment to really see if the area was lifeless bar one small perch.
Accompanying me on the long walk to the river was all the paraphernalia of a match angler that is a million miles away from the lure fanatic, but as I explained earlier there really are many ways to catch a fish. Drop Shooting’s biggest assist is mobility whereas the pole I intended to use would maximise the potential of the water in front of me and prove what was, or wasn’t, there. I was going to see if the lures had told the true story.
A seat box is essential for this form of fishing and was the first thing I put in position giving me a platform to attack the swim. This just isn’t possible from a chair and all accuracy will be lost as well as making it very tricky to hold 13 metres of carbon. I was looking forward to the next part and that was erecting my Drennan Acolyte carp pole for the first time and as promised it was truly a stunning piece of equipment – responsive, stiff and lightweight.
While it and the yellow carp bungee elastic I teamed it up with would be over gunned for small fish it would be perfect for big perch in fast flows come this winter because the pole is as good for specimens as any other method I know. Indeed probably the best fish I have ever caught was the iconic moment in Catching The Impossible with a perch weighing 5lbs 4ozs and tamed by this method! I also caught two 4lb fish on that trip as well!
While I take many lessons from the match angler one I don’t is finesses, hence 5lb Supplex being attached to the Dacron connector and fished straight through. I don’t have to win a bite in a fixed period of time in a peg I didn’t pick so it’s far better to wait for a bite and make sure I land it! The float choice for this style of fishing comes down to 2 – a big buoyant body and tip for running through and the wonderful Cralusso for a static bait.
With little pace in front of me I opted for a moving worm that I could hold back occasionally to tantalisingly flutter off the bottom. With 12 feet of water in front a 2.0gm Carbo was selected with a primitive shotting pattern with the cocking weight sitting 2 feet from the size 10 Kamasan B983 hook and half a lobworm tail. My hybrid approach between match and specimen angler is based on the accuracy of one and the willingness to wait for a bite and not lose it from the other.
Plumbing up is so crucial and I found a slight depression at 13 metres that was directly upstream of a snag that I suspected to be tree branches and then finally it was time to feed the spot I had selected with precision that no other tactic could compete with. First I added a cocktail of caster, red maggot, dendrobena and lobworm into a bait tub before chopping to form the perfect perch recipe.
Now catapulting this in as a specimen angler might be inclined to do would provide a pathetic scattered banquet but by using a bait dropper I could position 6 payloads on the area of a dinner plate at 13 metres and this to my mind was the key to how devastating the pole can be.
At last it was time to begin fishing and by now a drop shot fanatic could have made hundreds of casts but if they hadn’t been fruitful what was the rush? I hate to have a predictable punch line but what happened on the first put in, or indeed nearly every time I allowed the worm to pass over the feed? Well the lobworm tail momentarily rose off the bottom, the float tip sunk from view and I struck into a perch! They weren’t big fish by any stretch of the imagination but it did prove that the swim was full of fish! This shouldn’t be seen as a knock against drop shotting because I had removed its key asset of mobility by concentrating in one swim but it highlighted perfectly that you need to be a ‘jack of all trades’ rather than a ‘master of one’ when faced with ever changing conditions and venues that will come your way this autumn and winter.
Top 5 Tips
1. When you hook a lobworm tail attach a maggot or caster after to stop the point from being covered.
2. A cable tie on your pole allows you to twist the line around it when shipping out a bait dropper in deep water – once in position untwist and place the feed.
3. Plumbing up is crucial – in this case I dragged the worm over depth by an inch.
4. Accuracy is another vital element and I use a far bank marker as well as noting the exact spot the pole sits on my knee.
5. Don’t be a slave to one method – consider venue and conditions before picking one.