I have been having some very good success during the last month whilst predator fishing on the River Thames in my boat. I love the autumn on the Thames for perch fishing and my favoured style to target the species is to trot with sliding float tackle and a small live bait on the hook. My preferred live baits are small roach, dace and gudgeon. I will occasionally use bleak, but they are not as hardy and lively as the other silver fish. This style of fishing is exciting and usually instant action can be expected if any perch, zander or pike are present in each chosen spot. It is for this reason that I will only stay in a chosen spot for twenty minutes and will move if I have not had any action. Some hotspots hold shoals of perch and the action can be hectic for several hours. I had a red letter day three years ago when I caught sixteen perch in three hours up to 4lb with eight more weighing over the magic 3lb mark! It was crazy fishing that day, the fish were ravenous as they fattened up for winter.
All my recent sessions have been productive with good numbers of fish being caught on each trip. My best perch session recently was a catch of thirteen fish over 2lb 7oz with the best weighing 3lb 1oz caught on small roach and dace in a two hour period.
I would like to stress to people with this style of fishing as soon as the float disappears it is essential to strike immediately. Perch often swallow the bait in one swift gulp and acting instantly will prevent a lot of deep hooking, which ultimately could lead to fatalities.
My general tackle for this fishing consists of a 12ft 1.25lb test curve Specialist Avon Rod with 6lb Gardner Hydro Flo mainline. A two foot hook length is made from 5lb Target Fluorocarbon and a size 6 Wide Gape Talon Tip hook is tied onto the business end. The float is a small 6 or 8 gram sliding pike float with an olivette as the only weight above a mini Target Buffer Bead and size 12 Target swivel. A small Target Rig Stop or sliding stop knot tied with light pole elastic above the float completes the setup.
I had another recent hectic session involving pike and zander from a weirpool on the lower Thames with my dad. During the first few hours after dawn the pike were ravenous and we landed twelve up to 12lb on live roach, dace and chublets. During this session I had a real bonus for the Thames in the shape of a zander weighing 7lb. I don’t know who was more surprised as it came at 2 o’clock in the afternoon! Zander are meant to feed at dawn and dusk according to the textbooks, which just goes to prove that not everything you read is set in stone. Interestingly the zander was caught in the same spot that my friend had caught one from the week previously at around the same time of day, but his fish was slightly smaller at around 6lb.
If there are a lot of pike present, which usually happens in the weirpools, I will swap over to a 10ft 3lb TC pike rod and 10lb Gardner GT80+ mainline with a heavier sliding pike float and a 28lb wire trace. I only use one double hook on the end of the trace with the smaller barbed hook holding the live bait, thisleaves the barbless larger hook free to hook the pike.
It’s very simple fishing but truly exciting and when that float goes under the heart is pumping as you don’t know what has picked up the live bait.