You can’t buy a better perch fishing rod than a John Wilson Rovex Avon/Quiver, there’s a reason this is Britain’s best ever selling fishing rod, because it is so versatile and excellent value for money! Use the Avon top, the other options are great for a lot of other species. The Avon rod is just right at 1¼lb test curve, ideal for both rivers and stillwaters.
I am like a lot of other anglers, my first ever fish, some 46 years ago was a tiny little stripey, obligingly gobbling up the maggot on my rather unsophisticated tackle. That perch changed my life, I became an angler that autumn day down at the mist covered Roman Villa lake. Whilst we all appreciate a bite, let’s look at bigger perch than that little chap.
Big perch can get caught on maggots, but if you consistently want the big ’uns, you’ll need to be using worms, livebaits or lures. The new found prevalence of the American monster, the signal crayfish have certainly done a lot for the sizes of perch in the last 10 - 15 years. Many more fish over 3lb or even 4lb are now being caught. If you can find a small lake or pond where perch are the only predators, then you can have some fun!
A reasonable sized reel loaded with some line, with 5 - 8lb monofilament will do the job, it sounds a bit strong, but with the excellent line you can get these days, why not err on the side of caution? I would use a 2500 or 3000 sized reel that won’t unbalance the rod, after all this is about enjoying yourself, not dragging fish up the bank.
There are a number of ways to fish your baits, the simple legered lobworm is a killer, but a float fished or float paternostered live minnow or gudgeon liphooked on a single size 4 hook is about as exciting as it gets. Fish all the areas you’d expect a marauding predator to be, by sunken trees and structure, near reed beds, slacks and eddies in rivers. Use big enough bite indicators to get good bite indication but not too big and heavy as big perch, can be easily spooked by heavy tackle or line resistance.
Try and keep your fishing mobile, looking for the fish, not expecting them to come calling on you. So, there’s no need to camp out with rod pods and all that paraphernalia, just a couple of bank sticks and a roving approach will see you put a bait in front of more fish. Naturally if you are convinced that a huge sergeant-major perch is holed up in a snaggy swim, then sit it out, but in general, keep moving. Naturally, all of the above methods can also catch you specimen sized chub too, so be prepared!
A decent perch will put up a spirited and dogged fight on this outfit, there’s nothing quite like seeing a big pair of red pectoral fins appear as you play a big perch to the net. Talking of nets, you’ll have figured out that I am a fan of big round nets (you can get bigger fish in them) those with ½ to ¾inch mesh are ideal for both river and stillwater and around 18 to 20 inches diameter is perfect.
Big perch have pretty sharp gill covers and of course a spiny dorsal fin but once you have the fish held firmly, then these are not of great concern, bigger fish are always so much easier to unhook too! As with any other fish, get them unhooked and back in the water as soon as you can, if you’re looking for a trophy shot, then get the fish in a keepnet or sack whilst you get your camera sorted out. Like most predators, they tend to be quite fragile, despite their looks, so handle with care and get them back to fight another day.
Chris Leibbrandt has been an angler most of his life, at least 45 years anyway! Known primarily as a predator angler, he is a pretty consistent all-rounder fishing for anything, although river fly fishing and lure fishing are probably his biggest passions. Working in the tackle trade for twenty odd years, he has also run the Pike Anglers’ Club (PAC) and the Lure Anglers’ Society (LAS), being an Honorary life member of both. Chris is currently President of the LAS, and editor of their magazine, Chris is a published writer, designer, raconteur and wit.
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