I can’t quite believe it’s taken me so long to get round to writing this particular blog post about my big Perch fishing through last winter. I have been on a quest for a 4lb Perch on a lure for 3 years now. Here’s a couple of links to my Perch fishing through the winter of 2016 and of winter 2017, where I caught some fantastic fish and actually came within 1 ounce of my target with a big Perch of 3 lb 15 oz. This blog post covers the winter just gone, 2018 into 2019. The third winter on the trot of really grafting for this 4lber! Will this finally be the year where I crack it!? Read on.
Now, usually I don’t start my big Perch fishing seriously until around October each year, choosing to fish for other species through the spring, summer and autumn. However, in 2018, I couldn’t wait to get the lure rod out and started slightly early at the end of September. Unbelievably, on my very first proper session, I banked my first 3lber of the campaign, and what an amazing looking fish it was too!
Above: An absolutely awesome looking chunky Perch of 3lb and a few ounces.
Over the last few years, it became apparent that I was going to have to sacrifice the number of fish I caught to target a bigger fish. I could carry on catching like I had in previous years or I could gamble and focus on a location that had the potential to offer me a 4. It’s not easy fishing, but the rewards are there. This was going to have to take some effort and patience.
Preparation was kept simple. A few new bits of kit including a great backpack, The Spro – Freestyle Recon Backpack. It holds multiple trays in the bottom for lures, terminal tackle, jig heads etc.
Above: New kit – Spro – Freestyle Recon Backpack
Above: One of the trays loaded with the CrazyFish Nimble lures in a range of colours and sizes. A lure that was to serve me well through the winter.
After that initial success, things didn’t go to plan in October and November. I caught a series of Pike while trying to catch big Perch. I tried different spots and lures of all shapes and sizes, but the result seemed always to be the same. It became quite frustrating! Looking back, I don’t think I was doing anything wrong. It was just one of those things!
Above: Just one of a series of Pike caught whilst targeting perch in October and November.
Above: Another Pike loving the Nimbles. Don’t let this put you off these lures. They’re great for big perch.
I was putting in the time and was dedicated to making this happen. By now, I was obsessed with my 4lb target!
Above: You know you’ve got it bad when you go to the bar and find a Dropshot weight in your pocket!
I was struggling, but a few of the guys were picking up some impressive Perch from a variety of venues. In November came a breakthrough when Darrell caught his first 4lber, a fantastic fish. The bigguns were there, I just had to keep on going, and I was sure that it had to happen eventually.
Above: Darrell with an amazing 4 lb 3 oz Perch. Simply awesome!
I kept going, and it wasn’t until December that it happened. I arrived at the venue at first light. I tried a few spots before settling in on a likely looking area with some snags to the left. I was fishing with a reasonably small creature bait, which is quite unusual for me because I quite often go fairly large! I think the number of Pike I had been catching led me to experiment with smaller lures. I was using a Z-Man TRD Crawz on a fairly standard Cheb Rig with 10lb fluorocarbon leader (a bit heavier than usual due to the Pike).
Above: My fairly standard weedless Cheb Rig. Loaded here with an EcoGear Bug Ant.
I cast the creature bait around 30 yards up to the left of me to bring the lure back across the front of the snags. The Crawz had hardly hit bottom when it was grabbed by something pretty substantial. With my recent run of luck, I initially thought that I’d hit into another Pike. However, the head shakes told me that this was, in fact, a big Perch. When it eventually hit the surface, I could see it was hooked quite lightly and quickly managed to get the net underneath it. When I peered down into the net, I knew straight away that I had achieved my dream target – my first ever 4lb Perch. The 3-year mission had come to an end.
Above: At last, my first ever 4lber – a perch of 4 lb 4 oz.
Above: The scales read 4lb 4oz. I couldn’t quite believe that it’s finally happened!
Above: The lure that did the trick in the end. The Z-Man TRD Crawz in Deal.
To say that I was over the moon is an understatement. What happened next took me completely by surprise. It was only about a week later that I found myself in the same spot, this time fishing into dusk. I had only been fishing for a couple of hours but had fished quite hard. I had about 100 ‘last casts’ when suddenly my CrazyFish Nimble was grabbed by a good Perch. The light was fading quickly, and after an epic battle, I managed to get another big Perch. Unbelievably, I had another 4lb Perch laying in the bottom of my net. Three years of trying and suddenly I catch two within a week. Absolutely crazy!
Above: Just one week later and another 4lb Perch caught fishing into dark.
After that, I kind of had a bit of time out from the big Perch fishing. I enjoyed Christmas with the family and spent most of January and February on a mission to try and catch a giant Pike from a couple of new venues. While I was away, the guys were consistently catching some fantastic fish, though.
Above: Callum with an awesome looking old warrior of a Perch.
Another guy to have an amazing winter was Adam. Wow, did he catch a lot of very good Perch through last winter. I was obviously very tempted to get involved again. However, I had my sights set on this Pike challenge now. Unfortunately, that particular campaign didn’t really work out for me. I had some nice pike up to mid doubles, however, I was really after bigger.
Above: Adam with just one of his many big Perch through the winter of 2018.
February saw me spending my time on a very large Lea Valley pit. I didn’t really get the Pike I deserved but did pick up a few decent fish along the way.
Above: A nice, plump pike caught during my time on the large Lea Valley pit.
I did a couple of very short Perch sessions back on the River Lea and was just enjoying my fishing after a period of quite hard graft. I was roaming around, targeting new areas and just enjoying my fishing.
Above: A break from the Pike campaign to do a couple of short sessions on the River Lea.
Meanwhile, there was no stopping Darrell. Clearly, a man on a mission – catching some fantastic fish including absolute monster 4 lb 7 oz.
Above: 4lb 7oz. No words. Amazingly Darrel managed another 4lber in April. Quite a remarkable season.
As we headed into March, I started to fish the river start again. My dreams of a monster pike had begun to fade, and I had big Perch on my mind again! Last year I managed a really nice Perch in the final weeks of the season. I was wondering if the Perch would turn up in that location again. I had to go and look.
Above: A large 3lber caught from the River Stort at the start of March the previous year.
The Perch were hard to find, however, a series of large Chub were starting to fall to our lures. Callum was the first to grab one with an incredible 5lber.
Above: Callum with a 5lb+ Chub taken on a lure.
Someone that consistently caught big Perch right through the winter was Jim. He had several massive bulldog Perch with several magical 4lbers. This year really was unlike any other for the BIG girls. Some may have started to carry spawn, and they were looking BIG!
Above: Insane! An absolute bulldog Perch.
The cold weather had really started to take hold by now. The early mornings on the river were absolutely magical. The fishing was often a bit patchy but the mist rising off the water more than made up for it.
Above: Stunning scenes on the River Stort. This is what you’re missing out on if you hang your rods up through winter. One of my favourite times of year without a doubt.
The big Chub continued to make an appearance on the Stort. Chris took a couple of clonkers as we moved into March. This is definitely something I would like to do more of. Specifically targeting chub on lures. Maybe towards the end of next season, I’ll give it a go.
Above: Chris with a big lure caught Chub.
Right at the end of the season, I got an absolute savage take on a creature bait intended for Perch. As soon it was hooked it went absolutely ballistic, burying itself in the marginal reeds. I suspected it was a big trout but quickly realised that it was, in fact, a nice Chub. I just about managed to scoop it into the net. Not what I planned, but fantastic sport!
Above: Early March and I decided to try for one last Perch on the Stort, but got a surprise!
Above: Absolutely nailed on a CrazyFish Nimble.
Mid-March and the season came to an end, as it always does. It was time to hang up the lure rods for a bit and target a few tench, which were now starting to wake up. How can we ever top a winter like that? Years of trying to break the 4lb barrier and this was the year that it finally happened, not just for me but for several other anglers dedicating loads of time and effort into catching these fantastic fish. I take my hat off to all of them!
It’s now June 2019, and the rivers have just opened up again. As mentioned, I typically don’t target the Perch until October time but always have a little go right at the start of the season. June 16th 2019 and I straight away got into a couple of nice fish. I’ll leave them alone now but had to have a little go! 🙂
Above: June 16th magic. That was a LONG closed season. One of two nice Perch taken from the River Lea on opening day.
I may have reached my target, but of course, I won’t stop there. Perch are still one of my favourite species to catch, and I just love the simplicity of lure fishing. I’m going to enjoy my summer fishing and look forward to doing it all over again in winter 2019. Thanks for reading my blog posts about big perch fishing. Be lucky and tight lines 🙂