While the perch is widely distributed throughout the whole of the British Isles—although less widespread in Scotland—its presence in the North and West is in large part due to its being introduced there for purposes of angling or food, or out of sheer curiosity.
The perch is perhaps one of the most popular freshwater species in the British Isles, especially with the young angler. The reason for this is that perch are voracious eaters and will willingly take bait, especially worms, placed quietly under their noses. For the young angler the capture of two or three perch, even if they are only 6in long, can enliven an otherwise Ashless day. Though perch of this size are rarely of interest to the experienced angler, to the novice they offer good sport and the opportunity to develop a wide range of angling skills.
Big perch tackle is fairly straightforward. A general purpose 1011ft rod, teamed with a fixedspool reel, is suitable for most Stillwater perching; a glassfibre blank with a test curve in the ll|lb range is ideal. The action should be on the stiffish side if really long casting is essential, but if you are going to fish gravel pits at reasonably short range, up to 40 yards say, and the water is relatively snagfree, a softer Avontype rod is more fun to use. On the other hand, if you are going to fish large lakes at long range in the depths of winter, a rod of 1112ft is best.
Choice of line
Perch are pretty bold fish, rarely tackle shy, so if there are snags, merely play safe and use a line of 4—5 lb b.s. Go up to 8 lb if, for example, you hope to catch a 3 lb perch from the inside of a merged obstruction. A threepounder is capable of making short but powerful spurts. In snagfree waters, 3 lb b.s. Line is a good general choice.
Keep your terminal tackle as basic as possible. If you do not have to use a lead, simply freeline. A fat lobworm can be swung out 15 yards without difficulty, adding a swan shot will give you another five, and with two swan shots you should attain 2530 yards. Using two worms will also increase your cast a bit. Hook sizes will usually range from No 4 to 12, depending on the size and type of bait; use eyed hooks which have medium shanks.
Keep the bait on the move
It is important to keep the bait on the move to get the most enjoyment from big perch fishing. Search every inch of the water with your roving bait, be it a lobworm, livebait or deadbait. Cast to the desired spot and watch and feel your line as the bait sinks for any sudden movements: sometimes perch bite in midwater. But the time to be really at the ready is when the bait is about to reach the bottom and for a few seconds afterwards. About 40 per cent of big perch have.come at this time.
Even when the bait has touched bottom do not place the rod in the rests, but hold on for a minute or two, then give the worm a couple of tweaks. If nothing happens, rest the rod, then tweak the bait every four or five minutes, retrieving a foot or so of line each time. In this way you keep the bait active and cover a large area, searching about 15ft of water with each cast.
When the rod is on the rests, leave the balearm of the reel open and allow the perch to trundle off a couple of yards before you strike. If it is calm, just watch for movements on the line. In rougher conditions, use an online bait indicator.
Waters is to fish a worm unencumbered by weights of any kind. The worm simply rolls downstream, the angler feeding off line as required. Bites are registered by a swift movement of the line, sometimes also seen at the rod tip. A swift answering strike should secure one fish out of every three.
Forget small hooks and ultrafine lines, for most likely you will be presenting your baits beneath undercut banks, in or around snags, and down richly weeded runs—everywhere the current takes them.
Fly fishing methods
Fly fishing for dace is a most enjoyable method, especially when working small streams where few other anglers.are about. If possible, it is preferable to wade because this gives better line control as the fly runs swiftly down the stream. Often, almost any small fly will suffice, but if the angler is able to identify the insects on the water and present a good imitation of them, he will be even more certain of takes.
The fly can be fished upstream or down, according to conditions or to the angler’s skill and preference. Both methods are productive, but require swift reflexes from the angler. The fly can be fished wet or dry, and some anglers like to attach a single maggot to the fly for dace. Sometimes this not only improves the number of takes but also provokes the fish to take firmly.