Sam Ed­monds on how to catch a dream perch from big still­wa­ters

Sam Ed­monds’ reser­voir perch tricks

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

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.


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.


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.


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.

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