A GHILLIES TALE


 

 

 PERCH

HABITAT AND BAIT

One of my favourite species,perch were the first fish that I caught from a small but prolific lochan buried deep in the hills flanked on either side by majestic snow capped mountains that seemed to reach into the clouds and disappear.
The waters were dark and - deep remnants of an age past when instead of water – lava flowed from this now extinct volcano crater.

Perch are a predatory species that roam in communal shoals in search of minnows and other succulent food items.
Smaller fish of the same size range in the shallows and bigger fish habituating the depths.
Sporting bright orange fins,dark tiger striped flanks and spiny dorsal the perch is unmistakable and must be handled with care to avoid being ' pricked ' by the sharp rays of the dorsal fin,and gill covers.

Favouring natural or man-made structures perch tend to frequent deep water holes and structured areas such as weirs,lock gates,tight against walls,under any floating platforms such as pontoons,boats and behind bridge buttresses where there are often deep holes and depressions scooped out of the gravel.
Amongst tangles of tree roots,rushes,weed beds and sunken trees.
In fact almost anywhere that offers a little depth and cover.

A most obliging fish perch favour food items such as maggots,worms,fry and minnows.
Overall,worm is probably the most effective favoured perch bait,the humble lob worm is loaded with Amino Acids that leech into the water acting as a catalyst. Often fish encountering waters laced with amino's launch into a ' Feeding Frenzy '.
Such is the power of these acids.
To take advantage of this the wise angler prior to fishing lays a bed of chopped worm / red maggot as groundbait down before actually fishing the swim through.
The particles of chopped worm literally ooze amino's that attract fish from great distances.
With a hook bait of worm or red maggot fished under an Avon float over the bed of grounbait a hook up in many case is almost instantaneous.
Avon's are ideal for this type of fishing slim but with the body bulk to suspend a good lob worm or minnow.Crystal bodied floats are becoming increasingly popular whether or not the transparent floats aid in confident takes remains to be seen.
Shotting patterns should be adjusted in accordance to depth.
As too hook size per alternative bait.

Worms are best fished hooked once through the flat tail if the bait is of medium to moderate size or with the hook nipped through the saddle slightly below the worm's head end..

Static ledger with the bait hugging the bottom fished in combination with an in line weight or a rolling ledger combination brings results on those days when perch are deep and dour.
Resistance has to be kept to the minimum or the fish will simply drop the bait,a slight contradiction in terms.. Perch attack a bait with gusto and swallow quickly.

Maggots should be fished on as fine a wire hook as possible for the quarry species,line twist is often the result of using maggot bait..
To get around this without losing presentation the larvae should be hooked thus..
Barely nick the hook through the bulkier fatter end,exposing hook and barb.
Hooked like this the maggot will remain active for long periods.

Do Not Hook The Bait In The Body It Will Burst And Render The Maggot Useless...

Fishing float or long range ledger,fish with one maggot hooked ' blunt end ' and one hooked ' sharp end ' this will stop them spinning on the retrieve preventing line twist.
Shy biters can be fooled simply by fishing one maggot hooked through the ' sharp end ' or One maggot hooked through the flat face of the ' blunt end ' and gently threaded onto the hook.Pushing the barb through about a third of the way down the maggot's body and exposing the barb.Nick another maggot onto the hook through the ' sharp end ' and you're set !

Strangely enough although most fish species relish a feast of maggots some shy away from burst maggots oozing their internal body fluids into the water.

Some shop bought maggots can be greasy or oily for want of a better description, these baits tend to be floaters – right out of the swim if used for groundbait ! 
A dusting of Tumeric Spice will degrease the maggots,leave in the fridge overnight to get the full benefit of this process.
The results are baits with a yellow tinge or yellow dependant on the quantities of Tumeric used ..fish love 'em.

Perch are not only ' Ambushers ' they are hunters too..
Their methods as shoal fish are not dis - similar to pack animals that hunt in groups.

' HAVING A BALL '

As a shoal perch herd minnows and fry into a tight ball,two or three fish hit the shoal whilst those on the 'outside' pick off the fleeing fry at the same time pushing stragglers back into to the ' ball ' of panic stricken fry.

Another ploy similar to that described above but in shallow water finds perch again herding fry and minnows,in this instance driving them into the bank.
Where the same scenario ensues.

Individual fish that have been segregated from or lost the shoal learn quickly that food isn't that easy to catch without backup from the shoal.
These fish are the ' Stalkers ' the Silent killers that can take minnows time and time again by stealthily using the available cover,their camouflage and patience.
Most of these 'Loners 'grow to specimen size without competition from other shoal members.
Weed beds are prime hunting ground as perch well know !
As a shoal they scour weed beds flushing fry,minnows and insects from their only refuge...only to be snapped up by outlying perch on the edge of the main shoal.

Solitary perch in chase with a minnow often continually nip away at their victim's tail fin until the minnow cannot retain balance,speed or stability.
The point of no return the perch moves in for the kill...

During the summer months perch instincts are mainly that of the predator feasting on livebait such as minnows and fry which are in abundance at this time.
The onslaught of winter's icy chill finds diet now more variable as perch seek out deeper water.
Insects,invertebrates,worms,maggots are all taken,fishing worm at this time of year accounts for many quality fish....
Perfect fishing times are the last hour of daylight and on dank sultry winter days that never seen to get properly light.



 PERCH ON THE FEEDER


Feeder fishing for perch is an ideal and very effective method for capturing ' Stripey's ' off the bottom.Lay down a bed of chopped worm and maggots catapulted out over the water or mixed with a loose ground bait Not only will small silver fish / fry / minnows be drawn to the ground bait but perch that prey upon them will not be far behind.

In order to reduce resistance on the take select a feeder that is heavy enough to hold bottom according to water flow and general condition.Fished paternoster style with the feeder attached to the main line via a run ring 6 to 8 inches from the hook length.Feed the swim with your ground bait mix or chopped worm/maggot mix little but often.Worms are laced with amino acids which trigger feeding frenzies and bring otherwise dour fish on the take.

Ground bait mixes could include Shrimp Shellfish and Krill bases Krill is another bait in all it forms that is saturated with amino acids.Again Shellfish/worm extract which is just as effective incorporated into the ground bait is highly attractive.Chopped prawn and worm can be added too bulking up the mix but don't overdo the ' freebies ' the idea is to attract and hold fish in the swim not to overfeedAs a hook bait worm can rarely be beaten for perch and very often out fishes maggot best of all in it's day live minnow fished paternoster style.Prawns are an excellent hook bait bought pre-frozen from local supermarkets as with most shellfish thawing tends to render the flesh soft To toughen them up for the hook simply blast those selected for bait through the microwave on full power for 20 seconds.The remaing pack can be chopped loose fed or added to a mix.

If available use ' Squatts ' as opposed to standard maggots for want of a better description Maggots as such quickly bury into the silt or soft sand on their escape from the feeder whereas ' Squatts 'do notNow and then shop bought maggots tend to sweat and their skins become greasy resulting in maggots that float and reluctant to sink.In order to get round this problem a light dusting with Tumeric [cooking spice ] will remove the grease add colour and flavour to the maggots.They will sink after this spiced up treatment.

Either way it is always advisable when fishing the feeder for any species to lay an initial blanket of ground bait down prior to fishing.Presenting the hook bait over the layer of feed.


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