For the dedicated specialist angler, selective tactics are perhaps the surest way to target a really big canal perch. The giants are heavily outnumbered by their numerous, mouthy grandchildren and so for the perch fanatic it can be a case of either wading through the smaller fish or using a large bait.
Current canal record holder Dan Sales proves it is never too cold to catch perch.
As with lures, roving tactics guarantee a lot of water is covered. I would recommend just one rod, or at most twin set-ups to cover each side of the canal. A whole legered or float-fished lob worm, sometimes air-injected to sit above weed and debris, is a capital bait for this. As with the match approach, correct feeding can be crucial, whether that means a handful of chopped worm or regularly spraying an area with maggots. Liquidised bread is also excellent: perhaps best of all at drawing in the tiny fish perch love to eat.
Canal Carp Fishing Tips Photo Gallery
Another option is a small live bait such as a roach or even a small perch. For my part, I dislike this method for several reasons. The presence of pike is one. Light tackle is a bad idea where the species mix. I wouldn’t go any lighter than 10lb line and you must also use a wire trace – not ideal, but you’ll still catch perch with finer wires. Large single hooks are kinder and less crude than sets of trebles.
Prawns are perhaps the best alternative I can think of to live baits, should you want a really selective offering for perch fishing. These are not often used on canals, but can be very effective at singling out bigger perch.
‘Specimen’ perch tackle should be qualified as gear that retains some finesse. Hooklengths seldom need be above 5lb strength and it is imperative that rigs are cute and sensitive. Perch are notorious for hating resistance, so when legering, a light bobbin on a long drop is recommended. Perhaps the lightest and best indicator I’ve ever seen is a simple loop of plastic (below) shown to me by Paul Hamilton, the captor of some fantastic canal perch.
The quandary for the specimen perch angler is often the decision whether to stay in one likely spot or search out several, perhaps spending no more than an hour at a time in each promising area. There are pros and cons to both, but in my own fishing, I will only stay put in one swim if I am virtually certain there are good fish present.
Timing can also be crucial. Sometimes you might be in the perfect swim for a big fish but only receive that critical bite early or late in the day. As for seasons, the best time for a real monster is probably in the early spring, before the perch have spawned, although I must stress that big, fat females must be handled and returned with the utmost care. By high summer, weed can make presentation tricky and fish lethargic – and my perching usually only commences again in the autumn. I’ve found deeper ship canals extremely tough in the winter, but the shallower waters can still produce well in mild, settled conditions.
Virtually weightless: a simple loop of plastic connected with silicone tubing makes a perfect legering indicator.
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