Monday, 12 November 2012

November Perch Spectacular

Urban perch go berserk.

Typical perch specimen from downtown
As Summer turned to Autumn my focus has continued to be on Perch fishing as I strive to beat the magic 3lb mark.  Conditions on the Thames have been difficult as the ground is still wet from the summer rain and every fall of rain is expressed quickly by the Thames rising and colouring up, making lure fishing difficult and usually making the places that produced fish over the last 2 seasons in low water conditions less productive as water is let through Oxford rather than it being held up by the many weirs and locks. 
Although the boat traffic on the Thames around Oxford can be a nuisance to anglers, the need for weirs and locks to make the river navigable provides interesting features and some nice areas for fish to shelter from heavy flows after rain.  I've been studying Google maps to try and figure out where fish might hide in higher water and went for a 'look' at a little basin/confluence right in town yesterday evening with my lovely new light spinning outfit described HERE
After jigging off a footbridge in a small slack just off the main river for a perch of about 1lb I was about to head home when I remembered that the swim I had seen on the satellite photo was not far away so I wandered up for a look. 
As I arrived and put on a battered little Kamikazi spinnerbait I had a good feeling.  There was a decent area of slack water in the little basin and small fish were topping everywhere with odd swirls which I hoped were perch harassing them.  First cast in and the spinnerbait was nailed after a few seconds and the familiar head shaking of a decent perch was transmitted up the braid to my happy little fingers.
There followed an hour and a half of the best perch fishing I've known.  I eventually broke the spinnerbait so switched to a 2" kopyto on 4g jig head.  The bites didn't slow down.  Pretty much every cast there were pulls at the bait even if it didn't always hook up.  A switch to a Mepps spinner with long worm tail 'teaser' still brought plenty of bites.
Relax Kopyto.  King of shads.
I lost count of the number of fish after 6 but I'd guess it was more than a dozen.  All of them were lovely perch between 1 and 2lb and many had proper pot bellies on them.   There was a tight packed shoal of bait fish (bleak or roach?) in the basin and the perch were absolutely hammering them.  As I stepped down onto a pontoon to free a snagged lure there was an explosion of spray as the tight shoal beneath the pontoon dispersed rather rapidly.
I returned the following day (Sunday) for more of the same as I was not going to let a concentration of perch like this get away with it.  The river could drop down and the shoals disperse so it was time to make hay while the sun shone.  I arrived about 2 hours before dark and the basin did not look as inviting with none of the small fish topping and perch-swirls.  The main river had dropped considerably from the previous day and I was worried the shoal might have dispersed out into the main channels.  As the sun dropped lower things started to improve and it soon looked just as good as the previous night.
In the last hour and half before dark I managed another 15 perch with the best being about 2lb.  A few more smaller ones took the lures this time but it was still a fantastic short session.

Reno killer... Qu'est que c'est?
 fafafafa fa fa fafafa fa *
Lures were 2-2.5" kopyto shads and spinners.  I thought that the perch were attacking everything that moved but, interestingly, they were not interested in crankbaits at all.  The usually reliable Salmo hornet was deployed without so much as a touch

These couple sessions just made me love the light spinning setup I bought even more.  The 'feel' of the little Dragon Guide Select rod is superb and I could feel every little knock at the lure.  I was able to pretty accurately predict when the next hookup would come after feeling the little preliminary tugs of a perch clearly.   The white coloured Nanofil line was great too as it was easy to spot the bites by watching the line enter the water and lure control is improved by having a clear view of the line direction and angle.

It was a case of 'in it to win it' as conditions were not ideal for spinning but a new swim turned out to be a brilliant find.  With the many miles of river available around Oxford, location of perch is 90% of the battle and this little venue is a real perch hotspot.

Bring on winter and chub.

One week later...

I've just been down to the same place for 2 hours and caught 30 perch!  Morning session this time and the perch were more voracious than ever - attacking baitfish and lures with abandon.  I tried all types of lures and they were hammering all of them.

The author enjoying best perch session ever.  This perch the pick of the bunch
Biggest fish was this lump on a 2" Reno Killer gummifisch.  Anyone care to guess the weight?  I'm giving myself 2.5lb+ for it.  I've just bought some maggots with Sunday roach fishing in mind but I may have to go perch spinning instead.

* Apologies to luretour for borrowing that joke.  Its the best Polish rubber fish joke I know.

Jonathan Demme's Stop Making Sense . Psychokiller is first song but I urge you to watch the whole thing if you've never seen it..  One of the best concert films ever made.


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