Thursday, 18 October 2012

Chasing Ghosts.

There is a stretch of river I fish for perch. I’ve had them to upper 2s in the past and had a few in the lower 2 range also. On this particular stretch there are a series of weirs and sluices that effectively trap the resident species. There are, to my knowledge no, or at least very few, pike present. I’ve fished the stretch for five years and never seen a single jack. So by my reckoning that makes the stripy top of the food chain on one particular stretch.

1.15 Sept 2011

Now I understand a little about predator prey relationships and that the pred numbers can and will fluctuate over the years and herein lies the main difficulty, knowing or even guessing how many fish I am aiming at in a stretch of river and estimating what size they can grow to?

On stillwaters approximate numbers and optimum size of most species can be ascertained, either from knowledge of stocking, netting or captures. This could be also true, albeit to a lesser extent, on some rivers where barbel, chub and pike may well be the main quarry. However fishing for river perch on less popular venues is an entirely different prospect I have found.

As a river species there are a relatively small number of anglers pursuing perch in comparison to the trendier barbel, chub and pike. In fact I’d go as far to say on many stretches of river, and certainly on the rivers I fish, there are often no anglers pursuing them whatsoever. For the perch fisher this is great as there is little in the way of competition however there is also little in the way of hard evidence to go on. Nice in that one can consider themselves a bit of a pioneer but not that great when the blanks start to pile up and the doubts begin to set in

More fruitful days. A birthday perch October 2009.
In my case, and on this particular stretch I do have a little bit to go on, largely my own captures, going back over 5 years. However when one considers these last few years, whereby numerous sessions have given me precious little, one then starts to have the odd self-doubt. Are the fish still there? Have the bigger fish died off? Is it one of those periods in any predator/prey relationship whereby the predator numbers are at a trough? Certainly the prey fish are there in numbers, I don’t call one area ‘Gudgeon Alley’ just for effect. So the food chain immediately below our intended quarry seems to be fine, but where are the bigger perch?

My methods typically involve very short sessions, up to 3 hours usually, using one rod with live bait under a sunken float rig whilst the second rod will normally be a float-fished worm presented in the margins over chopped worm and maggots. Using the worm is not as selective as it might be as ruffe, chub and crayfish will at some point come foraging. Many a time I’ve missed a bite to find a section of the lobworm missing, the bait then being whittled down in successive casts to a half-inch section with the guilty party, usually being a ruffe, eventually getting hooked using the last remaining segment.

So, I’m crying one in. With nothing even approaching 2lb from the local river this season so far  and with a few sessions planned over the next week or so, I’m bound to tempt fate by moaning how hard the fishing is. I’m gathering my thoughts getting inspiration thinking back to previous captures, as few as they were, and considering that those fish maybe even bigger now. Or perhaps they have  died off through old age and maybe this is just the wrong year for a big’un and it’ll be a few years before those fish of a pound or so get even bigger? 

One for a few years time.
One thing for certain, it'll be time for chub again soon so I need to get my act together.

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