If there is one time of the year when targeting a big perch becomes a reality, it has to be autumn.
Clearing water and cooler temperatures seem to trigger this predator into hunting strongly, and while a dedicated big-fish approach using small livebaits or lures can produce the perch of a lifetime, you can also play the numbers game and keep busy with a netful of smaller stripeys – with the chance of a proper monster thrown into the mix.
Canals, rivers, drains and even commercial fisheries all hold plenty of perch, and a 2lb fish is never out of the question.
Lobworms and a chopped worm feed approach remain one of the best ways to catch them.
Former England international Mark Pollard knows about big perch better than most. The Matrix match legend has caught fish to almost 4lb during his match fishing exploits on canals and Fen drains down the years, and he has a relatively simple plan of pole fishing attack to keep the float going under.
Follow Mark’s advice for every chance of a perch personal best…
“My feed is surprisingly minimal for a greedy fish like perch. Each time I feed, I deposit around an eggcup-full of bait. This is made up of around 12 dendra worms and a single lobworm roughly chopped, plus 20 or so casters.
“How to feed is very important, and I’d go for cupping in every time – this lets the feed fall through the water naturally. A bait dropper comes into play in stronger flows, or if I want to concentrate the feed in one spot and twitch the hookbait over it on harder days.”
Move the hookbait
“I inject life into the hookbait by flicking the rig to the side four or five times, lifting it 6ins out of the water and letting it drop around half-a-dozen times.
“Lifting and jigging the rig is like drop shotting with lures. What I’m trying to achieve is to get a perch annoyed at seeing the worm flicking about all over the place and goad it into taking the bait.”
In coloured water, a heavy rig is best. This is made up of 0.16mm Pro Micron mainline, a 0.14mm hooklink, a size 14 SW Feeder hook to a 4x14 MP Carp 1 float and orange hollow Matrix elastic. With minimal visibility, there’s no need to go fine, but in gin-clear water I go as low as 0.14mm main and an 0.12mm hoolink. I’ll keep the size 14 hook, though.
Where to fish
I have two lines at the bottom of both slopes – close in and right across. This is where natural food washed in off the banks gathers. It is important to have these lines well away from each other so there’s no risk of splitting a shoal of perch up. I’ll also fish ‘down the peg’, so although I may only be fishing 4m out on the short line, I’ll use 10m of pole and have my swim several metres down the swim.
Hookbait is half a lobworm tail around 1.5ins-2ins long, but a small tail segment can work, as can three-quarters of the worm. Dendras are a good change bait using the worm nipped off just past the saddle. Double caster can also be brilliant.
The Right Timing
“I’ll feed my worm lines from the off, but actually start off fishing for roach elsewhere in the peg, giving the worm time to settle. After 15 or 20 minutes I’ll have a go on the worm to see if an early perch is about.
“Judging how long to stay on these lines is something a lot of anglers get wrong, though.
“I go on the worm and if I catch one, I stay on it, but of nothing happens, I come off it, feed again and go back to the roach. Big perch should be treated as a bonus, and if one is present, it will have a go immediately. I then have a look back on the worm every 30 to 40 minutes.
“Late in the day, when the light begins to fade, is a great time for perch, so don’t be too down-hearted if not much happens early on in the session.
“I’d plan to fish the worm line for a little longer than normal towards the end of the day. When it all comes together, you can catch a fish on every drop in a peg that earlier seemed devoid of perch.”