After what seemed like an eternity of catching nothing of note this summer, I finally managed to slip the net under something a bit special. I had been trying to break my old perch PB of 4lb 1oz for many years and although I’d managed to land a few big 3’s last year, I could never quite manage to get any bigger. However, whilst catching consistently last year, with the highlight being a lovely chunky perch of 3lb 10oz, I unfortunately lost a couple of much bigger perch the same day.

Although I was gutted, at least I had found where they were lurking. I had a few sessions back in the same swim over the following weeks, but alas couldn’t seem to find anything bigger than a couple of pounds.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks back and I found myself back down at the same stretch of river to see if I could find the big ones again. This time I was planning to try live baits for them, seeing as I had struggled so badly on the worms and lures after that initial day. The Saturday saw me trying my hardest to catch some silvers, but they seemed most elusive and I was plagued by hordes of hungry minnows. Eventually I caught a nice bait sized roach and soon had him bobbing around.

Probably less than ten minutes went by when the float absolutely shot away, but on striking I was met with nothing and whatever it was it had nicked the bait and disappeared. After that I couldn’t even catch a minnow, so after another fruitless hour I headed home with my tail between my legs.

The following morning saw me return and rather than set up in my intended swim, I started off a little way downstream in an area where there always seemed to be silvers and soon had myself a nice collection of 3 inch roach and gudgeon. On returning to my original swim, it wasnt long before I had my rods set up and a couple of gudgeon bobbing around tantalisingly.

Nothing really happened during the day apart from a couple of small jack pike, but just as the light started to fade the float cast to the far bank in a nice deep hole behind a snag tree started to really bob about and suddenly shot under. As soon as I struck the fish came straight to the surface and I could see it was a huge perch.

It tried a few times to dive into the submerged brambles under my feet, but having lost the big perch there the previous year I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again and managed to turn it away, although not before it gave me a couple of worrying moments around a snag. Thankfully it went straight into the net at the first attempt and only then as I lifted it, did I really appreciate just how big it was.

It was only just hooked in the edge of the scissors, but the super sharp size 4 Covert Wide Gape Talon Tip hook had stayed put as they always do. The Mirage fluorocarbon hook link had also held firm despite rubbing up against a couple of nasty looking submerged branches.

Lifting it onto the scales, I was expecting it to go over 4lb, so was totally blown away when the needle swung round way past that. It was hovering between 4lb 9oz and 4lb 10oz, so I settled on the lower figure, being more than happy to have beaten my pb by 8oz. I rested the fish in the edge as I sorted the camera equipment and set about taking a few snaps. I was very fortunate to get some good shots off straight away as after only four photographs the batteries died on my camera, but thankfully they came out ok though.

I carefully slipped the fish back into the edge and watched it swim away strongly. By then it was pretty much dark, so I decided to pack up and head home.

To catch such a big pristine perch from the river was fantastic, but for it to be so early in the season was even better. It hadn’t even started filling out for winter yet, so I reckon come the back end of the season it could be pushing the magical 5lb mark. Considering on that original day last year, I lost two of that size, I can’t wait to get back in February and March to see if I can find them again.