Sam Edmonds on how to catch a dream perch from big stillwaters
Sam Edmonds’ reservoir perch tricks
BIG waters may seem daunting, but they’re well worth the effort, reckons Sam Edmonds...
“Setting out from the boat dock for a day’s lure fishing on a reservoir is an exciting prospect for any angler, especially for those targeting perch.
With huge numbers of baitfish, structures above and below the water’s surface and large expanses of water which are often untapped for months on end, reservoirs provide the ultimate environment for perch to thrive.
I caught my first 2lb-plus perch from one of my favourite reservoirs, Grafham, in 2005, and I’ve enjoyed some of my best catches and biggest perch from this type of water.
They can be quite daunting to the newcomer, but if you can find the fish and use the right tactics, you have every chance.
WHERE TO FISH
Visible structures, such as towers, boils and boat moorings, all attract perch, but although these can produce big fish, they also get the most attention from anglers. This can make fishing around them very tough after the first few weeks of the lure fishing season. A fishfinder allows you to search for the fish themselves (by detecting air in their swimbladder) and reveals underwater structures, such as pipelines and sunken riverbeds, that provide refuge for baitfish.
First, I use the structure scan to search for fish either side of the boat, then cast to them from a distance of between 30ft and 50ft, so as not to spook them.
In deeper water of 20ft-plus, I like to vertical-fish. If you get your electronics set up right, you can see the lure on the fishfinder. Sometimes you can even watch the fish on the screen swim up to your lure and then take it, which is an exciting spectacle.
THE RIGHT GEAR
Most of the time I use a spinning rod of 6ft 6ins to 7ft 6ins, capable of handling weights of between 7g and 21g (¼oz-¾oz), with a fairly fast action and a good backbone. They are ideal for a wide variety of lure fishing tactics, and set the hook well when casting at range or fishing at depth.
I normally take up to three rods with me to cover the different tactics I have in mind for the day, as well as a drop shot rod, which has a slighter softer tip to help detect finicky bites.
I couple these with a 2000-sized front drag reel such as the Abu Garcia Revo STX 20, spooled with non-stretch mainline such as Berkley Nanofil or Spiderwire Stealth Smooth braid of around 15lb breaking strain.
For big reservoir perch, I normally use lures between 2ins and 4½ins long. These may seem quite big for a perch, but a big stripey has a big mouth and it will eat just about anything that will fit inside.
I’ve even had perch cough up baby zander! Unless I’m drop shotting, I always use a light wire trace of around 17lb, as you never know when you may hook a pike.
Baitifish are often plentiful in reservoirs, so shads can make great softbaits to start with, but curltails, tubes, split tails and even creature baits can also work really well, especially if the fish have seen a few shads.
Any baitfish colours are worth a try and bright, flashy lures as well as the dull ones all have their day. If the reservoir is clear, I’ll usually start with a natural colour such as Green Pumpkin or Smelt.
Nose-rigged split tails and twitchtails, such as the Berkley Twitchtail Minnow, and plastic worms, which can also be rigged ‘wacky’ style, are my favourite
softbaits for drop shotting.
You might think that heavier jigheads and drop weights would be needed to fish these big waters, but in calm conditions, with the right set-up, I can fish as light as 5g (3/16oz) weights, even in 40ft of water. Most of the time a weight of between 10-14g (3/8oz-½oz) is ideal, but on really windy days I may need to go that bit heavier.
HARDBAITS WORK TOO
Although I’ve talked mainly about softbaits, I always carry a good selection of hardbaits too. Deep diving crankbaits, chatterbaits, spinnerbaits and even spinners still catch fish.
Suspended crankbaits make great baitfish imitations, especially when they are twitched and paused for a moment to mimic an injured prey fish.
Another favourite of mine is a chatterbait. These can be fished on a straight retrieve, or hopped along the bottom, which looks very much like a crayfish, especially when rigged with a dull creature bait trailer, such as the Berkley Havoc Pit Boss.
With water temperatures cooling rapidly, if you haven’t tried lure fishing for perch on reservoirs, now is a great time to take to the boats and target them!”
Another fine reservoir perch for Sam Edmonds. Find the features and you’ll find the perch too.
Fishing early and late gets results.