Winter, a time for big Perch

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As we move from autumn into winter and the days are cold and crisp, new fishing opportunities make themselves available.

This is the time for Perch!

Perch thrive in the commercial carp style venues like our Mamhead match lake and Ashcombe Carp Pool, I could write a whole blog on why this habitat is perfect for growing big stripy’s but here’s the key reasons:

 Neglect: Generally, the Perch are not fished for, so they have little angling pressure. The most common baits on these venues are pellets, meat, corn, midi boilies and paste, all of which hold little appeal for the Perch.

 Coloured Water: With the high stocking density of this style of lake, the water tends to be coloured for most of the year. This gives the Perch long periods to feed, using its superior eyesight.

Abundance of Food: Big Perch feed primarily on small fish. These small bait fish benefit from all the bait that is put in the lake for the Carp and in doing so flourish. Lots of small fish means big Perch.

For much of the summer the Perch are feeding on small fry and fish and are difficult to catch on conventional baits. Added to this that the Carp are at their most active and fishing baits desirable to Perch like Prawn, Worm, Maggots and Caster are just as desirable to the large number of Carp present making it hard to target the Perch at this time.

In the winter months with the temperatures low, the carp activity is greatly reduced. The numbers of small bait fish has fallen and the Perch have to work a little harder for a meal. Circumstances now present the best time to fish for these impressive fish.

Winter perch fishing
One caught on another day recently

With all this in mind I made my way to our Ashcombe carp pool to see if I could tempt one of the big Perch that reside in this water 

Plan of attack: Fish light up in the water with small hooks and small baits to catch silver fish. Try to maximise small fish activity, this will attract the Perch to the area. Every so often drop down onto the bottom below the feeding silver fish with a big bait of worm or prawn and snare a big stripy! 

Swim Choice: Choosing to fish in this way, you are hoping to attract the Perch to you. This is much different than trying to tempt them from ambush swims where you are fishing to features. I chose swim 2 which gave me open water in front and a reed bed to my right and my line of attack was about 3 meters off the reed bed.

Swim choice for Perch fishing
Swim 2 – Ashcombe Pool

Tackle: Today im going to fish the pole which will allow me to easily change between rigs and fish with greater speed for the roach to build the swim activity. The up in the water rig aimed at catching the roach is fished with a 2.5lb mono hooklink to a size 20 hook. The big bait rig is 3.3lb fluorocarbon hook length to size 12 hook.

Tip: Fluorocarbon’s low visibility is a great edge in winter, when the water starts to clear as Perch have fantastic eyesight.

Tackle tip Perch fishing

Bait: The bait table is loaded with maggot, caster, worm, prawn and sweet micro pellet.

I’ve caught lots of big Perch on prawn over the years, for me fresh prawn is better than frozen. Frozen prawn is blast chilled in an ice coating and as it defrosts it takes away a lot of its attraction. This also happens to the bait in the water and because of this I change the hook bait on every cast.

Worm can be fished in bunches but big Perch seem to like taking small pieces of worm so always have a play with bait size. Caster is an excellent Perch bait that really comes into its own after a heavy frost or in the coldest conditions. Maggot is here primarily to catch the Roach up in the water, but the Perch readily take them and I have caught many big Perch on the Roach rig when fishing in this way. As with the maggot the micro pellet is here as an attractor for the silver fish. As with this style of venue, pellet is fed lots for the carp which makes this a top attractor for the small fish. Groundbait is a great alternative, but the ease of use of pellet has made it my choice in recent years.

Tip: If your having problems keeping prawn on the hook or small fish are pulling it off, use a bait band and banding tool to mount the prawn. This is great when on the waggler or ledgering as the bait can now survive a forceful cast.

Pellet bands

So how did the session go? I started by feeding micro pellet and maggot through the toss pot a little bit, but with every put in. A steady stream of roach up to 8oz followed the perfect start. I got to the point where I was getting an instant bite and so it was time to have a look on the bottom. I changed over rigs and baited with a prawn. 5 minutes of inactivity passed so when straight back to the maggot rig and repeated the process. Next put in on the bottom resulted in a small carp to a bunch of worms. I was back on the maggot rig and started picking up carp on this rig to.

I fished hard right up until dark as the last hour of light is the magic time for Perch, but unfortunately did not encounter any Perch. The last hour the bigger Carp moved in and I managed to extract a double figure Common. At the end of the session I had landed 9 Carp and lost a few along the way. The amount of Carp in the swim especially in the golden hour certainly didn’t help with targeting the Perch, but as they say there is always next time. It’s  a great way to fish to increase your chances of catching big Perch and with plenty of action very enjoyable to.  


The Carp were just too active and moved on to the bait.

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