Simon Baker and his new 4lb 5oz PB perch, caught at dawn.

by Angling Times |

“For the past few weeks I’d been slipping out for a few hours after work in search of big perch on the River Lea. Despite catching lots of moderate-sized fish I hadn’t snagged a specimen – but that all changed when I ditched fishing at dusk in favour of a dawn attack.

“I’d managed to located several small shoals while freelining lobworms. I also took time to familiarise myself with different swims, and the one I ended up choosing had few bankside features. With the help of a float and a 1oz lead I located a depression in the riverbed, which I figured was an ideal ambush point for perch.

“I spent several evenings fishing that spot, resulting in numerous perch between 1lb and 2lb. I was happy that it was producing bites, but I was after something bigger, and knew I had to change something if that was to happen, so I switched my evening sessions for early mornings.

“On my most recent trip I set my alarm for a time that only we anglers would be seen out and arrived in the swim for 4am. I began by catapulting in several pouches of dead and live red maggots before casting a free-running leger rig over the top carrying a lobworm tipped with a fake red maggot.

“The session began with a run of several small perch. I had just slipped one of these back and recast to the mark when my rod-tip tapped twice then pulled round… and didn’t stop!

“I asked myself ‘could this finally be the one?’ As I struck, I was met with a solid resistance and a fish that stayed deep. I played it in gently, and as it broke the surface and slid towards the net I got the shakes because I could see it was something special.

“Needless to say, I was delighted to weigh in my first river ‘four’ at 4lb 5oz.

“Not only was it a personal best, but as I stood on the bank as the sun rose I could really see it was an absolute beauty of a fish.”

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