There’s no better time than right now to catch your biggest ever perch! Unlike many species, perch begin to spawn in the next few weeks and because of this, they are hungry, looking to pack on weight before they begin to breed. So whatever the weather is doing, they’ll be feeding at some point during the day. So where should you head to target a specimen stripey? Well, you can find them in almost any water but over the last decade or so, the commercial carp fishery has proved to be a happy hunting ground for the angler in search of a big perch. The fish aren’t as pressured as perch in rivers and canals, and carp lakes are home to a plentiful supply of small silverfish to hunt.However, finding the biggest fish isn’t as easy as simply turning up and casting out a rod with a couple of maggots on the hook. In fact, perch fishing on commercials has seen unique tactics evolve alongside baits that you wouldn’t normally use anywhere else.In the first of our new ‘six steps to…’ series, Angling Times pinpoints six ‘musts’ for the angler looking to bag a big perch on the carp lakes. You don’t need to alter tackle radically, and sourcing the bait and feed takes little more than a trip down to the supermarket or into the garden.
STEP 1. FIND YOUR QUARRY
Find the small fish and you’ll find the perch – it’s that simple on a commercial. Any match angler will tell you that around 5m out on the pole is a great area for catching roach, so it makes sense to put much of your effort into fishing here around two rodlengths out, especially if there is a natural drop-off in depth – a classic perch ambush point. However, as on rivers, any sort of cover will also be used by perch. That means rushes, overhanging trees or bushes, islands and even the pallet on an empty peg next door – essentially, anywhere that a perch can lurk in wait to ambush prey fish.
STEP 2. GET YOUR TIMING RIGHT
Early and late are great times for catching perch on natural waters, when low light levels make it easy for a fish to stalk its prey. On commercial fisheries it is no different, so to stack the odds in your favour, set the alarm early and try to be the first on to the lake in the morning, or hold on until the very end of the day when the sun begins to set. The difference in sport can be astounding. Set your alarm early and try to be the first one on the lake in the morning.
STEP 3. GO FOR A FLOAT
Float or leger will catch plenty of perch but the float does offer more sensitivity, as well as letting you cover more of the swim. A standard waggler works well but because you are often fishing at short range, a pole float may well serve you better. Many top specimen hunters slide a delicate float of around 0.5g on to the line as there’s no real casting involved, and the pay-off is that there’s minimal effort needed on the part of the perch to produce a positive bite. A float offers more sensitivity, as well as letting you cover more of the swim
STEP 4. HAIR-RIG YOUR WORMS
Perch, whether they live in a canal or commercial fishery, love worms, and lobworms are a good starting point, especially the soft tail end – which perch seem to take without a trace of caution. Don’t ignore smaller dendrobaenas as they make a super change bait. Try a couple impaled on a bait spike or even hair-rigged if you have the patience. Dendras are very lively and keep on wriggling, drawing in curious perch. Hair-rigging will create minimal resistance when a fish takes the bait.
STEP 5. DYE YOUR PRAWNS
Specific to commercial fisheries has been the use of prawns on the hook – although carp love them just as much as perch! However, a soft raw king prawn impaled on a size 12 hook is just the job if little fish are proving troublesome with maggots and worms. A great trick is to pep up a prawn in clear water by changing its colour, and that’s easily done by leaving a handful of prawns in a little water to which a bright red bait dye has been added. The resulting vivid hookbait will soon be sniffed out by a perch. Leave prawns in water to which bright red bait dye has been added.
STEP 6. GET THE SCISSORS OUT
AS well as making great hookbaits, prawns can be used as loosefeed when broken in half and either catapulted out or thrown in by hand. To fully maximise the fishy scent of prawns, though, set about them with a pair of scissors, chopping them into fine pieces, almost the consistency of a mush. These can then be fed using a bait dropper alongside maggots or chopped worms, or added to some soil out of the garden when you are fishing deeper water.
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Perch — the national fish of Finland
Photo: Risto Jussila Perch (Perca fluviatilis). Before heading out to the waters, Finnish anglers have wished, ‘Let St. Andrew provide me perch’ – and their wish has almost always been granted. It’s almost impossible to think of not catching any perch on a fishing trip in Finland – as long as your lure has a hook! Perch is the most common game species in Finland. Perch are found throughout the country, with the exception of the northernmost part. Regardless of whether you’re going fishing out on the sea, on small ponds or on wide open mid-lake areas, you stand a good chance of catching a nice whopper of a perch on the end of your line. The warm summers of the 21st century have strengthened Finland’s perch stocks substantially and perch weighing from half a kilo to one kilo are commonly swimming around in Finnish waters. Perch spawn in May. They start to snatch lures in June as the waters warm up and the fishing season continues through to late autumn. Photo: Veli-Pekka Räty In summer, perch move around the surface waters in mid-lake areas, where good catches are made by trolling. How and where can you find perch? During the open-water season, the best time coincides with the peak holiday season in July and August. That’s when you’ll also find perch in shore waters. In summer, a good spot can often be found right at the end of the jetty on the shore of your cottage. Tree trunks that have fallen into the water and self-made spawning tufts made of conifer twigs provide catches for anglers using a hook and line. Jigs and bottom fishing rigs can be used to catch perch in shallows and sounds, often at 1 to 5 metres. Shallow bay waters yield super catches from time to time. On good vendace lakes, big perch also thrive in mid-lake surface waters, where they can be caught by trolling with plugs. Photo: Risto Jussila Fluorescent jigs work well in dark waters. Perch from the bottom with jigs and bottom fishing rigs The perch season continues throughout the autumn. Hot spots include shallows close to deeps and fast-flowing sounds. In September and October, shoaling perch strike jigs, spinners and bottom fishing rigs and, on a good day, you can catch big ones. When the first perch hits the jig, you can see the school of fish rising from the bottom close to the surface. When perch are biting, the jig barely has time to sink below the surface when it’s already devoured by a voracious individual. Depending on the lake, you can catch perch in autumn at 5 to 10 metres, sometimes even just below the surface. Hot spots are often found where gulls are striking at the surface; that’s where the whoppers are preying on smelt. Perch anglers do not look down on small lakes either. Many small waters give catches of real humpbacks; on a good day, a forest lake may even reward the angler with a record whopper weighing over a kilo. Photo: Jari Tuiskunen The period of the bright first ice is the high season on small ponds. The most common ice-fishing catch In winter, the best fishing seasons are the first-ice season and around March and April. On limpid lakes, anglers ice-fish for perch in deep waters, at 7 to 15 metres during the peak fishing season. The catch depth varies considerably depending on the water area and a school of big whoppers can be found in just one-to-two-metre deep waters in spring. In midwinter, perch are more passive and catches are pursued at 2 to 6 metres. Good perch lures include vertical jigging lures, balanced sinking lures and mormyshka jigs. Big perch often strike balanced sinking lures a metre or two from the bottom. There is an untold wealth of great ice-fishing sites. You can find fish at the edges of shallows, in sounds and shore banks. All ice-fishers have their own secret spot for big perch. In order to keep it secret, they try to bluff other anglers. One of the largest perch (2.48 kg) caught in Finland in the 21st century was snatched with ice-fishing tackle from Lake Kukkianjärvi in Luopioinen. Photo: Ismo Kolari Lake Rautavesi, Sastamala. Perch fishing can be extremely fun and when you find a pack of them, you are usually in for a very action-filled session. However, this predator is not the easiest of fish to find or catch and on some days, it just seems impossible to locate them or get them to bite. On those days, it can be a good idea to try out a few tricks and hacks that can save you from blanking. Of course, there isn’t a guarantee for success, but many times, the tips contained in this article have landed me perch when the going was tough and I was close to giving up and heading home empty-handed. So if you want to read up on some really helpful and effective perch fishing tips, all you have to do is keep reading.
Target First and Last Light
While perch feed during the entire day, they are most active in the morning and evening, during the hours of first and last light. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had perch fishing trips that were absolutely killing it during the first hours in the morning and then completely died out as the morning progressed towards noon. It’s like someone puts a lock on the perch, slowing them down and minimizing their appetite. Then toward evening, when the sun is slowly disappearing, they can suddenly become extremely active and hungry again. That’s the daytimes you should focus when it comes to perch!
Avoid High Pressure Systems
This is definitely my best tip for perch; avoid high-pressure weather at all costs! Perch aren’t all that fond of the weather conditions that are usually associated with high-pressure systems. They include:
- Clear skies and bright sunlight
- Northern or eastern winds
- Larger temperature changes between night and day
Perch like mild and stable temperatures, clouds, light drizzles, and southern or western winds. So make sure you head out during low-pressure systems when targeting perch. You can also read this article if you want to learn more about the best weather for perch fishing.
Fish Under Overhanging Trees
Overhanging trees – always a hot spot for perch Perch are small predators, which means that they are also prey fish for bigger predators in their habitat. That’s why they like to keep a stealthy profile and prefer features they can hide in, under, or behind. One classic such feature is an overhanging tree or bush. Not only does it provide superb stealth, but it also offers plenty of food for the perch, in the form of smaller prey fish and insects, as well as some much-needed shade and hence cooler water during high summer. That’s why I always start my trips by casting under or close to overhanging trees and bushes. They are perch magnets and you can usually find a whole bunch of them under such features.
RELATED ARTICLE: Check out this article on the best perch fishing reels for fishing with lures and live baits
Target Weeds and Reeds
Weeds and reeds are two other perchy features that you should never disregard. Much like trees, they also offer the perch great protection and a place to hide in. And it goes without saying that both weeds and reeds are loaded with food. Use a shallow-diving crankbait that you can fish just over a patch of weed and you’ll be sure to get some perch hits. For reeds, I like to fish either a drop shot rig or a float rig with live bait. Both setups can be placed just off the reed belt and usually manage to lure the perch out of their hiding place.
Look for Prey Fish on the Surface
If you don’t manage to locate any perch, try scanning the water surface for splashing prey fish. If you see smaller clouds of exploding smaller fish, chances are very good that they are getting rounded up by hunting perch. Perch hunt in packs and one of their most effective hunting tactics involves attacking their prey from below, pushing them toward the surface, where their escape path is suddenly cut off. If you see such exploding bait clouds on the water surface, cast your lure or bait close to that area. The bites will most certainly start shortly thereafter.
Use Spinners and Crankbaits in Warm Water
In the summer, when the water is warm and the fish are active, using faster lures is definitely the ay to go. Perch like to hunt fast now and a fast-retrieved lure, such as an inline spinner or crankbait will certainly get their attention in no time. Nothing beats a summer perch’s violent take on a fast-retrieved crankbait. They might not be the biggest of fish, but they sure have strength in them! You can check out my favourite crankbait for perch on Amazon here.
Use Slow-Retrievable Softbaits in Cold Water
During the colder months of the year, slow retrievable baits fished on or just off the bottom will be your ticket to perch heaven. Don’t let the cold water temperatures prevent you from going fishing! Things aren’t as easy now as they are in summer, but with the right baits and fishing technique, you can have really awesome perch sessions nonetheless. Go for softbaits, such as shads, creature baits, or good old curly tails; anything that you can fish slowly over the bottom. Use light jig heads, as they’ll make your softbaits sink slower toward the bottom. Check out some really awesome softbaits for perch on Amazon here. Even better, fish the following rigs that are perfect for cold water perch:
- Texas rig
- Carolina rig
- Drop shot rig
They will enable you to fish your softbaits extremely slowly, or even statically, which will convince even the most sluggish of perch.
Fish with Live Baits
A big perch caught on a small live bait on the bottom When lures fail, fishing with live baits for perch can really turn things around for you! No matter if you are fishing on the bottom or on the float, tricky perch simply cannot resist a delicious small live bait. I prefer the following bait types:
Make sure your baits aren’t too big, as the perch might not get them into their mouths. Bait sizes of 2 to 5 inches are perfect for perch!
RELATED ARTICLE: Read this article to learn about the most effective live bait rigs for perch fishing
Fish with Maggots
If you don’t have any live baits, using white and red maggots is another really effective way of catching difficult perch. While being a really tiny bait, maggots are a real secret weapon that can actually land you a lot of big perch. Present them on a light float rig or, and this is my personal favourite method, fish them on a classic maggot feeder rig right on the bottom. If you want to read up on the topic of ledgering for perch, make sure to also read this article.
Pro Tip: Avoid fishing with maggots in venues that hold a lot of small fish, as they’ll usually find the maggots first and ruin your swim.
Bonus Tip: Try Night Fishing for Perch
Fishing for perch in the dark is a really underrated method that not many anglers are practicing. I discovered this really fun way of fishing for perch a few years a go and let me tell you, it’s really effective at times! Especially the bigger fish seem to hunt more actively and confidently in the dark, which is why you should definitely try it out for yourself! No matter if you decide to fish with lures or baits, always use bright colours when fishing for perch at night. White maggots or peeled shrimps/prawns are really great baits for night perch. And so are white, green, yellow or chartreuse softbaits! Find out more about nighttime perch fishing by also reading this article. This entry was posted on
by Anna Cooper With Autumn just around the corner, switching to perch fishing is ideal for the cooler months. If you are eager to try perch fishing, this guide can give you some tips to making the most out of the sessions out in the windy weather!
About Perch in the UK:
With the Latin scientific name is Perca fluviatilis, the European Perch species is a close relative to the freshwater predator and can be identified by its greeny-brown back with a series of dark vertical bars across the upper sides. The perch is handsome and bold often with its tiger-like stripes. The boldness of colour, as with many species of fish depends on the turbidity of the water. You can also identify a perch by:
- Vivid Orangey-red pelvic and anal fins
- Spiky dorsal fin on its back
- Flattened spikes on each gill
- Small spikes on the scales
- Large eyes (for feeding in low light/murky conditions)
- Size is usually around 25cm in length and 1-2lbs in weight.
Where can you catch Perch?
Found in freshwaters and wetlands, perch are easy to find throughout autumn and winter months. As a predatory fish, they can be found in almost any water. Smaller perch are very common and tend to stay close to the nearside bank but if you want to target the big ones, then you probably want to take a look in the centre of canals, reservoirs or at your local commercial fishery. Most local commercials are stuffed with carp and silverfish and it’s these silverfish that provide easy pickings for the perch. The impressively sized perch do not pile on the pounds by big eating worms and maggots, but by eating little roach and rudd. It is not just about identifying what waters the perch are living in, it is finding the exact areas perch are drawn to. Firstly, check for places a perch might lie in ambush for its prey, such as;
- Any snaggy looking spot
- Over a hanging tree,
- Lilies or reeds
As long as there’s a fair depth of water there it’s likely a perch will be there too. Sometimes, especially on commercials which can be quite ‘featureless’, you aren’t always blessed with such an area. If this is the case then look for the deepest spots on the lake, as these will often be the areas, especially when it’s cold, which the baitfish will shoal up in. Hopefully, the perch won’t be far behind.
What are the right conditions to fish for Perch?
It’s no secret that nearly all coarse fish are more willing to feed at dusk and dawn, especially on bright sunny days, and with perch, it is no exception. Try to base your sessions around early or late times in the day, otherwise, you will find yourself fishing all day for nothing. Most of the time perch will be coming out from their hiding spots just as you are usually packing up, as the sun slowly starts to disappear behind the horizon and the light levels drop.
What fishing tackle do I need?
Once you have figured out the location and conditions of the perch, you need to get kitted out with all the necessary tackle. As mentioned earlier, perch don’t grow too big and a 3lb+ fish would be considered a specimen. With the fish’s size in mind, you do not need to tackle-up too heavily for them. Fishing Rod: A soft-ish Avon rod with a test curve ranging 0.75-1.25lb Fishing Reel: Match the Avon rod with a 3000 — 4000 sized reel Line: Load the reel with around 4-6lb monofilament line Terminal Tackle: A standard waggler, a wide gape hook sized 4-10, a hook disgorger, small spinner or lure.
Best fishing rig to catch perch
Unless you are float fishing, it is the rig that allows the fish to pick up your bait and run with it. Perch dislike resistance, so make sure to choose free running rigs. You can make your free running rigs as simple or as complicated as you want. AD’s Phil Spinks suggests keeping your perch rigs simple, use a quality run rig kit and combine them with a 1-2oz lead, a 4-6lb fluorocarbon hook length and a size 4-8 hook.
Choosing the right Bite Detection
If you are float fishing then a standard waggler will be fine for perch, but if you are ledgering for them then you’ll need some form of indication. Get yourself a quality bite alarm and a drop-off indicator. The drop off indicator allows you to fish for them ‘open bail arm’ style, which means the resistance the fish feel when they pick up the bait is minimal. Alternatively, instead of a drop off indicator, then a standard bobbin would also work for bite detection as its lightweight. You do not want anything too heavy as this increases the risk of the fish dropping the bait. If you use a standard bobbin, set those rod rests nice and high, allowing a good drop for the indicator, bringing the resistance down to a minimum.
What is the Best Bait for Perch?
Perch will fall to all manner of baits, however, the preferred choice would be maggots, lobworms, prawns and live baits (if and when allowed). A good tactic is to feed plenty of worms and then use worm or maggot hookbait over the top of where the loose feed was introduced. Maggots and worms are a great starting point, however, if you want to target the bigger fish, then set it out with a whole prawn. The smaller fish will often leave the prawn alone and it also tends to deter the ‘nuisance’ carp and other fish that most commercials are full of. Both lobworms and prawns are fairly large baits so it’s essential to use a decent-sized hook to match. Perch, for their size, have massive mouths so don’t be too shy about picking larger fresh bait. Do not forget, perch are a predator and if worms and prawns are not attainable, get yourself a quality spinner lure.
Feeding habits of Perch
As mentioned above, the simplest way to feed for perch is to simply spray maggots over the top of the area you are fishing with a catapult. Feeding the bait over your hookbait will bring in the small baitfish and hopefully the perch will follow. Another way you can bring perch into your swim would be to fish over a few free offerings, for example, a few broken lobworms or prawns – however, avoid going over the top with these, a whole lobworm/prawn is a good meal for a perch and they probably wouldn’t need too many to fill themselves up. Alternatively, you could combine both of the methods above. Use a dark coloured groundbait, or even just some molehill soil, add it to some maggots and a few chopped worms and prawns and introduce it to your swim either in balls or through a feeder. This baiting method does two things; it attracts the small fish with clouds in the water and it also offers some food items for any perch that visit the area. For more tips and tricks for perch fishing, watch the video below or head on over to ADTV for more video tutorials.
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