Dave Har­rell’s guide to river perch

Now is the time to net your­self a bag of big river stripeys!

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

IT’S never been bet­ter, or in­deed eas­ier, to catch a bag of big river perch!

All around the coun­try, on a host of dif­fer­ent rivers, peo­ple are re­port­ing per­sonal-best sin­gle fish and, in the case of match an­glers, best-ever match weights.

A few weeks ago I fished the first round of the ABC Baits Wye Win­ter League, and af­ter weigh­ing in 26-10-0 of mainly small chub plus a few dace and perch I felt con­fi­dent of get­ting good points for my team. How wrong I was!

I fol­lowed the scales all the way down to the end peg and was amazed to wit­ness mainly perch weights of 44lb and 43lb, plus a cou­ple of 30lb catches and a big­ger 26lb than mine. My weight was only good enough for sixth in sec­tion, quite phe­nom­e­nal when you con­sider the river was low, clear and hardly mov­ing.

I also wit­nessed some very big perch at Shrews­bury dur­ing the three-day fes­ti­val there, and over the past few years there have been some real mon­sters landed from the Thames, War­wick­shire Avon and Trent.


Big perch can show up al­most any­where on any river but if you re­ally want to tar­get them prop­erly, my ad­vice would be to choose a swim with a fair bit of depth (more than 6ft) and then search out the bot­tom of the nearside ledge, if there is one.

In the same way that roach like to hold up on the ‘crease line’ that I told you about re­cently, perch love it there too – maybe be­cause they have easy rich pick­ings if the silverfish are liv­ing there.

Other ob­vi­ous places to find perch are swims where there’s a lot of over­hang­ing tree or weed cover. I can re­call back in my child­hood days be­ing told by my dad to fish ‘just over the weed’ and the ad­vice still holds good.


While a bait pre­sented on pole gear can of­ten be the best way to tar­get big perch, I think many an­glers miss out on bet­ter catches by ig­nor­ing a run­ning line ap­proach as well.

A pole will put you in the same place every time, which is fine as long as the perch are play­ing ball and stay­ing in the same place.

Be pre­pared to put sec­tions on and work your way down the swim as the ses­sion pro­gresses and fish are be­ing caught.

On the matches I fish, many an­glers have now switched on to the fact that you can some­times catch more perch by pre­sent­ing a lob­worm or a bunch of mag­gots un­der a Bolo rig.

If there is flow, you can search the swim bet­ter and run the rig all the way through it. Once you’ve caught the early mug fish, this is a ploy well worth try­ing.


I’ve ex­per­i­mented with all sorts of elas­tics for perch fish­ing and now I use mainly white or black Daiwa Hy­dro­las­tic. If the black sounds a bit harsh, bear in mind that when I’m us­ing it I’m of­ten fish­ing with a 6g float and a big hook, so ev­ery­thing is in bal­ance. It’s a great feel­ing when you lift into a 2lb-plus perch on black Hy­dro too as the elas­tic is very for­giv­ing. This is some­thing you need, even when you’re us­ing a big hook, as it’s so easy to pull out of the fish if it’s not hooked prop­erly.


While mag­gots and cast­ers will catch all sizes of perch, when

I’m tar­get­ing big ones there is no finer bait than chopped worm and caster for feed, and lob­worms, whole or in chunks, on the hook.

I fish venues where there is a big head of stripeys on many of the pegs, so for that rea­son I al­ways take a kilo of den­drobae­nas and at least 100 lob­worms with me on every match or plea­sure ses­sion.

I won’t nec­es­sar­ily use them all every time, of course, but if I don’t they will al­ways keep for the next ses­sion.

I’d hate to ar­rive at a good perch swim and not do it jus­tice, sim­ply be­cause I hadn’t both­ered to bring enough bait with me.

Two or three pints of cast­ers are added to the worms that are chopped. I rarely chop worms finely, as I think big perch pre­fer large pieces of worm, and even small ones can scoff a load.


There are a few dif­fer­ent ways to feed chopped worm and cast­ers. Prob­a­bly the most com­mon is via a bait drop­per, which you can buy in var­i­ous sizes. Think about where the drop­per hits bot­tom, as you need to be able to present your rig over the top – al­ways lower the drop­per in down­stream.

An­other way to in­tro­duce the feed is with ground­bait and soil. I use a 50/50 mix of Bait-Tech Pro Nat­u­ral and soil, and cup or throw this in – again, al­ways down­stream to en­sure I can fish over the feed when it’s on the riverbed.

On rivers like the Thames there is lit­tle flow, and I’ve had suc­cess there by just cup­ping the chopped worm and caster in.

A fourth way is to just feed small chunks of lob­worm by hand and

fish over these with run­ning line.

This can ac­tu­ally re­sult in some very big catches of perch when the river is run­ning clear but not too fast.

Use chopped worm and caster for feed.

Perch have been win­ning lots of river con­tests.

Dave with a fine catch of big perch.

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