|COARSE FISHING WITH THE ESSEX ANGLER|
An aggressive predatory fish which hunt in large shoals.
The colouring of its striped body makes for perfect camouflage while waiting in ambush.
Apart from the distinctive striped body markings it also has a spiked dorsal fin and sharp edge to the gill plate along with a very large mouth and large eyes.It is said to have the best eyesight of all coarse fish allowing it to prey mainly by sight.
It is also one of only a few freshwater species that has two dorsal fins.
They do not grow large and in fact a 2½lb fish is considered a specimen. A fish of 4lb is considered by many to be the fish of a lifetime.
Perch like both still and running water and can be found mostly around weed beds, overhanging trees and marginal plants where their stripes blend in with the surroundings offering protection not only from other predators but also providing camouflage enabling them to pounce upon small shoal fish that pass by.
This aggressive shoal hunter prey on shoals of other smaller fish, biting at their tails until they are too tired to flee. They will often hold their victim penned up whilst two or three other fish smash through the terrified shoal to feed, before downing the spiky dorsal fin and returning to the cover of near-side reeds, rushes or the shade of overhanging vegetation.
British record - 5lb 9oz (1985)
Max length - 20in (50cm)
Life span - 13 years
|NATURAL FOOD SOURCE|
Small fish including their own young, Insects, insect larvae, worms, crayfish and crustaceans.
Spawning usually during April. Tiny males will often chase much larger females in a bid to fertilise the eggs that are expelled in long ribbon like strands in the weed stems. The strings of sticky white eggs are also laid through reed stems, over sunken branches and tree-roots in the shallow margins.
The female can lay up to 300,000 eggs with the fry hatching in 8-9 days.
Autumn is normally the time of year when most anglers start to target the Perch.Locating the shoals can often prove to be a difficult.
In rivers, a paternoster is a great way to search the areas they like to hide, overhanging trees and along the weed-fringed margins.
A shoal of Perch will usually consist of fish of a similar size and quite often the first fish caught will be one of the largest so if itís small move on.
Its not uncommon for shoals of small perch to contain up to about 40-50 fish during the autumn months.
A shoal with speciman size Perch can be as small as 5 or 6 fish,due to the smaller ones being eaten by the faster growing ones or having died. At 4lb they are usually solitary and like most large fish, very wise in their ways of avoiding capture.
A great bait for Perch fishing is a big lively worm hooked just below the head on a 10 to 6 size hook making sure the worm is free to wriggle.This is sure to entice any Perch with appetites bigger than themselves.
Drop the bait in for a few minutes then move it bit by bit until an area has been covered and then move to another spot.
More often than not if you have found a shoal a bite will come as soon as you start to move the bait.
The first indication will be a couple of quick tugs but do not strike straight away.Lower the rod tip a little to give a little slack line and when a distinct drawing pull is felt lift firmly into the fish.
In the colder months the Perch becomes very inactive, however this is not to say they cannot be caught but it can be very slow and sometimes boring.
Due to them lying low in deep holes the best approach would probably be a static ledger with a bunch of worms or a dead or livebait on a running rig. Allow a long tail between the weight and the hook as the slightest hint of resistance will have it ejected immediately. The long tail allows the perch to get the bait well into its mouth before realisation that something is wrong.