As the leaves begin to fall and the weed in the river starts to die back my thoughts turn to river perching.
I love this time of year on the rivers because it rewards the angler who thinks about their fishing and is prepared to not only spend some time searching out great swims off the beaten track, but also gets their timing spot-on.
Perch will feed throughout the day but often feed best as the light begins to fade so make sure you can stay until dark if possible.
This is particularly true once temperatures drop, and a fish or two caught as the sun goes down has rescued many a perch trip.
While lure fishing is hugely popular for perch, I like to use a swimfeeder to keep a stream of bait going in.
The rig I use for this approach is simple and reliable.
Here are a few pointers for success this weekend...
Dai's Top Tips For Catching River Perch:
MY favoured hookbait is undoubtedly lobworms and I start with one on a 2ft hooklength and the feeder full of a mixture of red maggots and chopped dendrobaenas.
The smell of chopped worms will draw perch from well downstream and the red maggots will keep them searching for food close to your hookbait.
To maximise the attraction of a lobworm hookbait I like to break the lobworm into a long tail section and shorter head section and hook them on side by side.
This helps draw the perch to the end of the worm with the hook in it.
MY favourite perch swims are ones where the current is slightly less than the main flow of the river – this can be on bends, under trees, and even behind weedbeds.
Having chosen a spot to fish I introduce some bait using a baitdropper.
Typically, I put in three droppers of chopped dendrobaena worms and three of red maggots at the top of the swim.
When using a baitdropper allow it to fall through the water on a slack line and once it hits the bottom leave it to empty for a few seconds.
If you wind it straight in a lot of the bait will still be in it and come out well away from the riverbed and as a result it will be spread further downstream than you want it.
FEED BROKEN LOBS
As well as introducing bait via the feeder every few minutes I like to break a lobworm into two or three pieces and feed them into the swim either by hand or with a catapult, depending on the distance. If using a catapult I fire one piece at a time as I find this is much more accurate. If you put three pieces in at once one will land in the area you want it to and the other two invariably shoot off elsewhere!
Perch bites are often very angler- friendly in that there is often an initial knock on the quiver tip to alert you before the tip pulls round. Strike as early as possible and be prepared for a fight much harder than from similar-size fish of other species. When you catch a perch do not return it directly into the swim you are fishing, as that is likely to spook the shoal. I never carry a keepnet so I generally release them a few yards up or downstream from the landing net.
I like to recast every five minutes for the first few casts to get some more bait into the swim. After an hour I will recast every 15 minutes. Being able to change hooklengths makes it easy to try di erent options if bites are not forthcoming or are tentative. For example a longer hooklength may produce more confident bites. On occasions a change to a dendrobaena or even double red maggot on a smaller hook can produce bites so it pays to experiment.