Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Sergeants of the Minnow shoals

It was a misty morning, water droplets falling in an irregular pattern as its vaporous shroud was slowly lifting and save for the call of Pheasants there was an almost eerie calm about it.
I had made plans to cover two species that I had in mind, chub and perch, in my eyes river perch are one of our most beautifully marked species with their rouge fins, variations of green, black bars and a dragons dorsal, usually giving an angler a cracking scrap especially in their larger sizes.

Despite my thoughts being about river sergeants, I first and foremost wanted to see if I could tempt some of the larger chub and had prepared the garlic, krill and milk powder cheese paste along with a fresh loaf of bread, liquidised bread and of course a tub of lob worms. Upon reaching the river I found much like many of the other waterways it was running very low and around two foot lower than normal, admittedly this wouldn't be so much of a problem on some larger rivers but when specialising in targeting smaller rivers it can be the nail in the coffin as far as action can be concerned, however that said the river still had a nice tinge of colour which was most odd given that we have had very little rain and there were plenty of swims with debris, in fact there was a multitude of inviting options, so there were at least two positive advantages, I must admit that I am a bit of a flotsam floozy and if there is anywhere that a good chub or perca will hold up in low conditions it is the deeper pools and debris strewn battlegrounds.

Link ledger in hand I headed to my first swim, a slack but slightly deeper area of the river with debris reaching out toward the edge of the flow, a quick nip tuck and pinch of fresh bread was cast alongside one of the sunken trees, this was met with a light rattle and followed by disapproval by the occupant who then backed right off, this was to turn into a recurring theme as I spent this particular trip changing bait, bait sizes and hook size in hope of charming a chevin from numerous and rather sumptuous swims, bites were either plucks followed by backing off, or the bites where they whittle your bread or cheese paste down but do not commit, it was tricky going to say the least. Thankfully where my fishing is concerned I seldom have room for pessimism and try to stay optimistic with the thought that you only need one chance to change a challenging trip into a fruitful one.

As late afternoon beckoned and many good looking skulking zones had been tried, the majority either snubbing this angler or simply giving tentative bites without fruition, I had moved to a more uniform area of river, but with nice marginal undercuts and tree roots. As is usually the case with this time of the year and heading toward the winter solstice the days are very short and light was beginning to fade a little when I had my first proper enquiry, my rod plucking solidly twice before I set the hook and was met with a welcome solid kick, instantly line was being taken from the little Symetre 500 reel as a large striped shape surfaced mid channel, at the same time my eyes popped out my head, I fumbled to push them back into their sockets, this was a very large perch and not that well hooked either, I sat playing her, unsure whether to get up and re-adjust my position or not as the hook hold looked as if it was only lightly nipped on the inside of the mouth.

My legs struggled to receive the message from my brain  "move them now or lose this fish" I growled to myself, finally the message was received and I was soon moving into a crouching position with the agility of the Pilsbury dough boy meets a run over badger and none too soon either as she powered off toward the marginal tree roots, you could say she was giving a good account of herself but that would have been a gross understatement and it led to a bit of knit one pearl one, with my rod changing from left to right hand to gain a modicum control.

Finally she was in the net and I was pretty speechless, when the words did eventually tumble out all I could muster was "it's a clonker, an absolute beauty!".

Transfixed by a thick Set Specimen


Probably one of the best looking river perch I have caught, fins looking like they had been coloured in with a felt tip pen, black bars down her flank in the shape of Sabretooth Tiger fangs and the most glorious mixture of lime greens, she was truly perch-fection.

After having slipped her back and just about managing to calm myself I decided to head off upstream to see if I could perhaps pick up a chub or two as they had been a cause for much head scratching to say the least.

As daylight waned I picked up a couple of modest chub, the one pictured below the larger of the two which obliged.

Making my way back to the car park I was quite contented, after all there was always next time for one of the larger chevin to put in an appearance and that one of the very special Sergeant's of the Minnow shoals had obliged was more than reward enough. 


  1. What a glorious perch, absolute perfection.

    1. Thanks Dave,I was pretty stoked to have landed her and some.A peaceful and Merry Christmas to yourself.