Small perch are not difficult to catch, even with the crudest of kit, which is probably why they are the first fish most of us have caught.
They are prolific breeders, so small perch are considered nuisance fish on some waters. Perch self-predate to a great extent so few live long enough to reach maturity and their full potential.
Those over 2lbs are a worthy catch and fish over the 3lbs mark are considered specimen size. There is a big jump from that to the present record, which stands at more than 6lbs. However, in the right environment, specimen perch are not as rare as you might think.
Because of the nature of commercial fisheries and the absence of other predators, such as pike, perch become the apex predator.
Carp are the main quarry with little else being fished for. These waters are crammed full of fry and smaller fish, and provide the perfect habitat for large, fish-eating perch.
Some perch, like eels, turn their attentions away from daphnia, grubs and insects in their first year, preferring to eat fish. Those are the ones that grow on to be the huge specimens we now have in our commercials.
Use the right method and you will be amazed at the results.
Perch will take virtually any kind of bait, but big perch are fish-eaters, which is why they are so big and rarely caught on commercials.
Live baiting is the way to go. Small roach, rudd, perch or chub of around 3ozs make perfect bait.
You can use either a free-roaming or static, paternostered live bait. Both work well but paternostering allows you to keep your bait tight in against features such as over-hanging trees, lily pads and tree roots, where the perch hang out in numbers.
A free-roaming set-up is simple. Use a large float, the Maver 3SSG pellet waglers are perfect for the job.
You need a float that is just big enough to support the bait. Use a size 10 barbless single hook, hook the bait in the top lip and secure it in place with a small piece of rig tubing so the bait doesn’t wriggle off.
Place a couple of SSG shot above the hook length to prevent the bait from swimming up to the surface.
To paternoster a bait you simply use a float ledgering rig with lead fixed to the bottom below the float, with a swivel threaded down the line and fixed with float stops at the required depth.
Your hook length is fixed to the other end of the swivel so the bait can swim freely around the main line. Set the depth of the bait carefully so it can’t swim into the bottom weed to hide and can’t swim up to the float to cause a tangle.
Perch will sometimes hit their prey first to injure it before returning to eat it, but be alert as big perch are quite capable of quickly gulping down a four- inch bait and tearing off at speed.
You will be amazed at the size of prey a perch will swallow straight down.
Your bait may also attract the attention of pike, which may bite you off, but the small hook and short length of line it would take will not do it any harm.
There isn’t a real catch-all method to catch pike and perch but by using a fluorocarbon hook length you may be able to land pike too. If you want to turn your attention to pike, simply replace the hook link with a wire trace.
If you have got any predator questions, e-mail me and I will cover them in a future article.
If you have angling stories or pictures, email alan@pike master.co.uk or give me a call on 07815 308463.
This column is sponsored by www.retfordangling.co.uk