“I recently returned from a morning’s perch fishing that’ll stay with me forever, where I landed fish of 6lb, 5lb, and 4lb 12oz from a colossal Dutch water.
“Although it’s far from home, the tactics and mindset I applied will work in the UK, and by using them yourself, you too could bank a perch that’ll blow your PB out of the water.
“It all started when I was covering a three-day predator fishing event called the European Fishing League. It’s held on a huge lake in Holland – over 40km long and 5km wide – and is home to some of the world’s best perch fishing.
“I’ve covered international events there before, but this time I factored in half a day’s fishing with expert lure angler, Luc Coppens from Belgium. The aim was to break my PB – a low ‘three’, and it didn’t take long for me to land a huge 4lb 12oz fish. I was on cloud nine!
“We moved spot, and I had another thump from a fish that felt heavier… much heavier! As it surfaced, Luc shouted ‘it’s massive’. When an angler of Luc’s calibre says that, you know you’ve got a serious fish on! When the fish came onto the boat my jaw hit the floor, my eyes popped out, and for once in my life I was utterly speechless. At 6lb, the fish left me in bits.
“After a few quick pictures we released the fish, and I sat for the next 30 minutes in a daze. Once we started again in a new spot, I managed another perch of 5lb. It was incredible fishing, and there were several factors in my success that you can apply to your own sport.
“Firstly, you must fish where big fish are, but that doesn’t mean you have to travel to Holland. If you fish a canal with small ‘wasp’ perch, try a stillwater with larger residents. By fishing somewhere and going the extra mile, you open the door to another fish of a different calibre.
“Next, you need to do your research. This involves finding where the big perch are, and investigating what’s working. If you get a chance, take a little time and really examine how someone is fishing. I found the successful competitors in Holland were retrieving incredibly slowly. Doing this too was pivotal to my success.
“I’d also recommend trying something different in terms of your tactics. Big perch will wise up to popular methods, and trying something unusual can pay off. On the Dutch lake, crankbaits and twitchbaits are often used, but I caught all of my fish on a Ned rig. This is a soft plastic lure that’s retrieved slowly along the deck – totally different to what the fish usually see. The Ned is worth trying in the UK, particularly if most anglers are fishing dropshots or jig heads. Just make sure that the bottom isn’t too soft, or the lure will bury.
“But before you go out and try for a monster, spend time getting bites, especially if you’re new to lure fishing. By changing your lure or retrieval rate, you can unlock a seemingly dead area.
“Right now, perch are at their biggest and can be found in everything from the narrowest canals to the murkiest of pools. Give my tips a go and make the most of these brilliant predators.”