Canal Perching

The smile says it all

Finding them… How often have we heard the saying,” You can only catch what is in front of you.” So if I wanted to catch some decent perch I had to find out where they were. I had heard during general fishing chats at various social gatherings, fishing meetings etc. that the canals around the Thorne/ Doncaster area had some good perch in them but that was a it vague, so I had to narrow it down a bit.
Angling Times and a bit of luck moved things forward a lot. I made a point of reading all the weekly catch reports, and making a specific note of likely locations.
Then the break through. Talking to a colleague, John Mitchell, who I work with in 'Angling in Schools' about my ambitions to catch a decent perch or two, he suggested he got in touch with a match fishing mate, as big perch often show up in matches. Bingo! The result was some detailed information about perch well over three pounds turning up on a regular basis. I had a starting location. 
Tactics… I know my limitations, and although the fish in question had mainly fallen to pole fishing tactics, I did not consider fishing light on the pole, as basically I’m rubbish at it. What I am reasonable at is ledgering, so I got myself organised to fish two light ledger set-ups. I read various articles on perch fishing and a common theme was keep resistance to a minimum. So light bobbins, and fishing fine for me, was the order of the day. One tip I did pick up from a Bob Roberts feature, was to not go too small with the hook, particularly as I had also decided to go with big baits.
The exact tackle was a pair of Twilight Specialist Rods, Caldia X reels loaded with 6lb mainline. To keep with the minimum resistance theme I opted for Korda Run rigs, 4lb hook-lengths and size 6 wide gape hooks. Casting weight was provided by a small maggot feeder on a short mono link. Bait… Live baiting is not allowed on my chosen water, so realistically I had one bait option, lobworms. Again I dropped lucky, and by asking around found a reliable source of high quality worms, or rather John found a reliable source and put me in touch with his supplier. I thought that the catches of big perch in the matches probably had something to do with the feeding situation the anglers would be using, namely cupping and/or loose feeding maggots, bloodworm, chopped worm etc. so I thought I would back up the lobworm hook baits with chopped worms and red maggots. 
Timing… I was already aware that the evenings were a good time to fish for my perch, but it was reading another Bob Roberts article, that really reinforced the importance of staying that bit longer, so although my time was limited I decided to go late and stay late, making sure that any trips gave me the option to stay until dusk had fallen. Some of the trips were only two or three hours long, but I reasoned that two hours fishing when the fish were active was better than four when they weren’t. I was organised and ready. John joined me for the first two trips, and although we didn’t catch on the first trip, we saw enough activity to leave optimistic. Trip two and we both caught. Trip three was a bit of a result and myself and son Martyn, had six chances, landing 3 to just under 3lbs. On each trip we fished one down our own margin, and one across to the far side. Regularly recasting to keep the feed going in via the feeder, and additional top ups of chopped worm from the catapult. and As I write this there are more trips planned and we are really enjoying our plan coming together.
Having set my mind to it, on this occasion I achieved what I wanted to fairly quickly. As with all fishing projects there was an element of good fortune, re things like the weather, angling pressure etc. but what I think contributed to my catching what I had set out to catch, was giving equal priority to each of the four strands of my planning.
If you’ve never tried setting yourself a specific fishing target, then give it a whirl, it can be great fun, and can add that little edge to an already exciting hobby.
Good luck and great fishing.
Brian Skoyles