Canals on form for big perch

TWO anglers proved the rich spoils on offer from the nation’s canal network during the winter months when they banked an incredible haul of 120 big perch to a best of 4lb 4oz.

After finding their local rivers still running ‘up and coloured’, pioneering big fish hunter Dan Sales and his fishing companion Paul Goldsmith decided to discover what the Grand Union Canal had to offer.

By staying mobile and fishing small rubber jigs in and around a series of locks and marinas, the Hertfordshire-based duo covered more than 40 miles of the canal over three gruelling sessions to make their outstanding catch, which also featured 20 perch between 2lb and 3lb 10oz.

Travelling light was vital to their success, with both anglers carrying little more than a landing net and mat, plus a selection of 2in to 4in-long soft baits, which were fished in conjunction with 6ft rods and 5lb mainline.

“With the river being in such bad condition and the fact that neither of us fancied fishing a ‘commercial’ we got the map out and found a few areas of the Grand Union Canal that we liked the look of - it was as simple as that,” Dan told Angling Times.

“I hadn’t bothered to fish a canal since I was a kid and didn’t expect to find so many huge fish. But that’s not to say that it was easy fishing, because we’d often walk for two or three miles at a time without a bite.

“But when we did find a pocket of perch it was possible to catch up to 10 fish in a sitting - and they were all huge. It was really exhausting and both of us were absolutely shattered at the end, but to catch a perch of 4lb 4oz just blew our minds and really proves the potential of this venue, as well as many other canals across the country.”

Another perch angler to have got his New Year off to a bang was Gareth Evans, who had Angling Times to thank after he used a catch report published recently in the paper to pinpoint a stillwater in Sussex that produced a new personal best stripey of 4lb 10oz.

Gareth, from West Sussex, who is also the current silver bream record holder, laid a bed of loosefed chopped prawns and red maggots and then flicked a simple running leger rig over the top carrying a whole prawn to fool the specimen.

“I saw a catch picture of a big perch that was published in Angling Times and I recognised the venue, which played a big part in my capture because location is the most important key to catching big fish like this,” he said.

“In the last few trips to the venue I’d tried a softly, softly approach to try to avoid the large number of carp in the lake, which didn’t work. So on my last visit I fed really heavily and just waded my way through the carp with the hope of getting through to the low stock of perch. It worked a treat!”