The only thing I did not know, was that this day would be the day where reality exceeds my dreams of catching, not just a big perch, but monster perch.
The air outside is fresh and cold, so I jump into the car and turn the air conditioner on max. Fortunately, I packed the car yesterday, which saves me of a lot of stress in the morning. The latest weather forecast shows sun and light winds, which is everything an eager perch angler is wishing for. Halfway through the trip, I am enjoying a hot cup of coffee while listening to the radio and dreaming of big perch. Slowly but surely, the adrenaline kicks in and my heart starts beating faster. In a few more moments, I was standing next to the water and there is no time to waste. My thoughts from the morning trip is driving to get my stuff ready, so I can pursue my dream of catching a big perch. The only thing I did not know, was that this day would be the day where reality exceeds my dreams of catching, not just a big perch, but monster perch.
The candy shop; A well assorted box is the key to success.
The traditional spoons and spinners are still effective, but the finezze trend is getting its grip on me. Fishing with light tackle is extremely effective and it’s much easier to fool the older stripies. The bigger the fish, the smarter they are, and it was not until I started fishing this style that my catches started to be more consistent. In the past I have been fishing a lot from a belly boat, but in recent times I have been focusing more on shore based angling. Shore based angling is much more stealth and I do not have to worry about being in the right position. In the beginning the 18gr heads was considered small for me, but by time I started to adopt this ultra-light finezze method, my most used weight is around 10 gr. But occasionally I fish with heads that weighs just 5gr! One of my favourite lures is the Savage Gear Fat T-tail minnow, and there is a very good reason for this. Most shads have a strong tail. This limits the movement from the lure and make it stiff. The Fat T-tail has a light and soft tail structure and the t-shape of the tail makes the water flow wiggle the tail harder. The fat body of the lures does two things. First of all, it makes it easier to rig the lure without disturbing the shape of the softbait and secondly, it has a wide profile which will make it look attractive from underneath. I fish it as an ordinary jig, but the fat body also allows me to fish it linear, which has proved to be very effective in the shallows. To make a perfect match I use the Savage Gear Black Savage Rod in 7.5 feet with a casting weight from 5 to 20gr. I feel every single nibble on end of the line, which is super important when targeting the biggest perch of the lake.
Due to heavy rain over the last couple of weeks, we could not fish our usual hot spots. Rick and I have long been talking about a new location in an old quarry. We have been told stories from there, but as we all know, anglers have a tendency to exaggerate their fishing adventures. The night before our trip, we searched for good spots using satellite images from online map service and found a perfect drop off. With our waders on we got in position and hoped that the spot would hold some decent fish. A few casts into our fishing session, I felt a light pull on my Fat T-tail. A split-second after I felt this deep shaking that surely indicates that this is a serious perch fighting for its life. I try to stay calm and not pressure the fish too hard. A fish like this can make me feel sick for weeks if I miss the chance to hold it. The fight is short, but the adrenaline is pumping like an engine in a formula one car. When finally she surrenders, my smile reached my ears from happiness. It was massive and the measuring tape stretched to 51.5 cm and she weighed 2,5 kg. It was a new personnel for me. After some snapshots, the fat lady gets released and swim back into the clear water. Before I start realising what actually happened, Rick’s rod is bending all the way down to the handle. Another 50 cm perch well over 2,5 kg slipped into the landing net. After a few smaller specimens the wind started to pick up and we decided to change locations to a less windy spot. In our new area I searched the water with my 9cm Fat T-tail and BAM! Yet another huge perch has been lured, from the clear water. I quickly realise that this fish is around the same size and soon after it is safely lying in the net. It is even bigger than my personal best of the day and weighed in at 2,59 kg! Two personal bests in one day of fishing! This is a fishing session I always will remember, and I shared the whole thing with my fishing buddy.
Fat. Some pictures are in no need of words. Just wow!
Gangsters run in packs. When you bagged the first one, then get your lure out there again.
Most used. Nick Landman loves the 9 cm Fat T-tail merged with a 10g head. Perfect all-round setup.
Strategy is everything
Fishing for big perch involves a lot of searching. The most obvious waters are small lakes and old quarries that is not connected to rivers or bigger lakes. The smaller waters can provide the best ecosystem for big perch to thrive. Most often the optimal conditions are not there, but the chance of catching one of the biggest ones, are better in small closed environments. As said before, it involves a lot of searching. Satellite images of lakes are a good tool to help rule out some water, which does not have the optimal conditions. Look for deep lakes, lakes with variation of depth and vegetation on the bottom. If the lake looks dead, it probably is. My tactics is to move around all the time and find the fish. The perch are often in small schools and when you find one, there are always more. Focus on the shallows, most of the fish I have been catching during winter have been patrolling the water no deeper than 2m. In some lakes, they will of course go for the deeper part, but I always focus on the shallow part first.
A week after our unforgettable session, we headed back to the lake. This time our expectations was through the roof and we could not wait to cast lures again. We started fishing from the same spots we had that great fishing session. The adrenaline was building up even before the first cast was made. We did a lot of casting that day, but nothing seemed to be happening and we trying every single corner of the lake in hope of finding fish. When all the obvious had been tried, we started sneaking in between trees to get to those hard to reach spots. I felt like a monkey in a tree searching for a banana, but trying new water in search of big perch is the cornerstone of this fishing. I could barely cast my Fat T-tail from amongst the foliage, but my first cast landed in the spot I was aiming for. On the drop, I got a huge bite and it felt really heavy. Actually so heavy that I am sure it was a medium pike that took the bait. Dammit! I put all the pressure I could on the fish, in order to get it in fast and release the pike. A few seconds later, my frustration was replaced by a welcomed surprise. I huge perch revealed itself in the clear water. I totally panicked! The following seconds are once again hectic, but with the help from my friend we netted the beast! It measured in at 52,5 cm and I could not believe that I exceeded my personal best 3 times in one week. It is just amazing that this can happen if you search these opportunities.
Preparation is everything. Using Google Maps and finding hidden lakes in closed environments are the way to get the bigger underwater tigers.
Love at first sight
As a young kid, my eyes were opened to this wonderful fish. When I caught my first perch, I was not even fishing for it. I was fishing for minnows as everyone else in my area were, when we started our fishing career. This fish was fighting much harder than the minnows I had caught that day. When it broke the surface, my hands started shaking and my eyes was as big as tea cups. I was almost paralyzed when the fish was in my shaky hands. This was the most beautiful fish I have ever seen. The stripes down its back made it look like an underwater tiger. The spiked back gave it almost an aggressive look, and then it has these red and orange fins, which just overwhelmed me with respect for this fish. I was in love with this fish. After that episode I quickly scraped enough money together to buy my first telescopic fishing rod.
In the beginning I was fishing with light metal lures, such as spoons and spinners. This was very effective, but as my interest grew, so did my arsenal of lures. The first softbaits I bought, were often long worm imitations with a heavy head on. At that time, the softbaits in the shops was completely new and my first attempts with them were not very productive. I quickly abandoned this technique and years would pass by before I started seeing the potential in softbaits.
As an angler, I always strive to be better and specialise in this exciting form of fishing. I cannot deny that finezze techniques are growing on me. I find it ultra-interesting and my catch rate has been going up. The reason for this is that I often stick to what I know a fish wobblers, but changing the technique is seriously increasing my chances of success. I am not sure I will ever catch a perch bigger than 52,5 cm, but I will certainly be out there and try my best to find new lakes with this potential.