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An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!

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Sunday, 6 January 2013

Perch - the "biggest" of fish

I spent very little time in pursuit of perch, during my first spell of "specimen hunting", the mystery disease had devastated the waters of the UK to such an extent that any serious attempt at perch angling was bound for failure. Isolated populations did exist but, were closely guarded, secrets of those anglers lucky enough to be in the know. Every now and again I would find myself at a venue where perch could be caught, the Thames and the Buckinghamshire Ouse, turning up fish in the 1lbs 8oz region, on occasions, although these fish also exhibited the tell-tale signs of tail rot and ulcer-like sores that were the feature of this deadly virus. So it was a very pleasant surprise to learn that, in 2011, perch were now once again widespread across the southern counties and growing to sizes that could only have been dreamt about some 20 years earlier.

By some extraordinary coincidence, I came across this very old photo of my 1983 PB perch
- clearly showing the signs of the "mystery disease" which wiped out huge numbers of these splendid fish.
Some things never change - I was using that same rod & reel combination yesterday!

I had never seen one of 2lbs, prior to June 10th 2012, but have now seen 20+ and three over 3lbs! My personal best, leading up to this period, was a sorry looking specimen of 1lbs 13oz, from the R.Thames at Mapledurham, Berks (March 1983). Benno and Sick Boy (not "sick note"- apparently Darren Anderton objects to being compared to Tom!) had set the ball rolling with a trip to East Sussex, both returning with new PB's. Benno then got a return trip sorted out, a complete cock up with a double booking, yet an extraordinary day was had by Bunny, Simon, Benno and myself.  Between us we had 11 over 2lbs with the best going 3lbs 6oz falling to Simon's rod at last knockings - what a day!
My PB of 2lbs 10oz - East Sussex 10.06.2012

Experiencing perch that were fit enough to have a real tear-up when feeling the hook was exciting; to see them brought to the net with gills flaring and dorsal fin erect, ensured that I wanted some more of this. So, just three days later, Benno and I were on our way to a day ticket water at Tyler Hill, just outside Canterbury. Several guys at work had mentioned that perch were present in the fishery and could be caught on "luncheon meat". I didn't go much on their bait advice, but the presence of the species was good enough. We used the same tactics as before, fishing prawn/worm cocktails over  bed of free offerings and red maggots. Weather conditions were against us, bright blue, cloudless skies and scorching sun, however, I did manage to winkle out a nice fish of 2lbs 9oz before giving up and spending the rest of the session taking carp off the surface.

Tyler Hill - 2lbs 9oz before the sun got too hot!

My little run of good fortune continued with a session on the R. Stour, near Canterbury, when I managed to land a fine perch of 2lbs 6oz. I had gone there straight after work - so was still wearing my, very fetching, "safety glasses" - I know I look a complete prat, but the fish is a beauty. That I was actually there fishing for chub did nothing to detract from the capture this fish - a very good specimen for the river. (It's not possible to put a label on a worm saying "chub only!")

A healthy perch, with dark banded, olive flanks, red fins and spiky dorsal, they really are the "biggest of fish" bristling with character and attitude. One of my targets for 2013 is to land one of 3lbs+. Do I have the resolve to pursue this quest, or will I get distracted by other species? One of the joys of not knowing where you're going - any road can lead you there.


2lbs 6oz of accidental R.Stour perch - a beauty in spite of the twat holding it!

 

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