5lb 6oz monster perch from Wilstone on two red maggots

Steve Aley gained rich rewards for persevering with his perch campaign at Wilstone Reservoir when he slipped his net under this new personal-best 5lb 6oz fish.

In doing so the 57-year-old became the first angler in the history of the sport to land 5lb-plus perch from both still and running water, having caught a fish of exactly that weight from the Great Ouse back in 2003.

The treasurer of the Perchfishers group, who targeted an open water mark at 60yds on the daunting 119-acre venue, took the fish on his only bite of a windswept day.

“The season before last we had quite a few upper four-pounders from the venue and knew then that it would only be a matter of time before the 5lb barrier was breached.

“When the bite came it was a single bleep on my alarm, which saw me crouched next to the rod, ready to strike. Then the swinger arm lifted steadily and I was in,” said Steve, who admitted that skill plays second fiddle to determination when it comes to tackling Wilstone, the biggest of the four Tring Reservoirs in Hertfordshire.

“You can easily go months on there without a single bite, then catch well for a three or four day period when the fish are in feeding mode. It’s about putting the time in and then being lucky enough to be on the bank at the right time.

“It can be gruelling, but it’s what you have to do sometimes in order to catch the fish of a lifetime,” he added.

And, while most anglers targeting perch prefer to use lobworm hookbaits, Steve took his fish on two red maggots mounted on a size 16 hook, fished alongside a swimfeeder containing the same ¬ a tactic he believes more big-perch anglers should consider adding to their armoury.

“I’m a great believer in red maggots as a hookbait, especially when conditions are tough and the fish’s metabolism is slow. I think they sometimes sit there snapping up the odd freebie, but aren’t inclined to eat a larger offering such as a lobworm. Maggots as a hookbait are overlooked by too many people,” he said.