By Dr. Paul Garner
Nothing beats the electrifying feeling of a fish hitting a lure. In that instant you are connected with a predator that has been fooled into attacking your artificial bait. I know I am not alone in discovering the fascinating world of lure fishing as it is arguably the fastest growing part of our sport right now. A trend that has flourished thanks to the humble perch. None of our other predators are as obliging or numerous as these banded warriors, and whether you fish canals, pools, or rivers there are sure to be opportunities to catch perch using artificials.
Big perch are formidable predators and great fun to catch on light lure gear.
Drop-shotting was certainly at the forefront of modern lure techniques that captured anglers imaginations, but I find this is a more effective tactic when the water is cold and the fish hugging the bottom.
Right now, perch can be caught anywhere from just under the surface down, and lures that be worked faster normally get more of a response.
That doesn’t mean you have to leave your drop-shotting gear at home. Why not hook on a 8cm paddle-tail shad and fish a fast stop-start retrieve instead?
The faster retrieve really gets the tail of the lure working hard and you can add as much weight as you need to keep the lure down without affecting its action.
Another drop-shot bait that I was shown recently, and that I think has a lot of mileage is the ‘medusa’.
This consists of several small worm baits, each measuring only 6-8cm in length, rigged together to give a swirling mass of tails as the bait is twitched back.
If maximum movement is what you are after then give this bait a try as it is constantly pulsating in the water and never at rest.
Snags and weedbeds are the Bain of the lure anglers life, specially in the late summer and autumn. It can be really annoying if you are picking up weed or constantly snagging up. Fortunately, there is a simple way of avoiding this problem that works great with perch lures, especially worm-shaped baits.
The only specialist gear that you need are some wide gape worm hooks. These have a much bigger gape than normal, and I choose the hook size based on the gape needing to be a minimum of one and a half times the depth of the bait. When the lure is rigged it does look strange having the hook point level with the back of the bait and the bend exposed below it, but as soon as a perch bites down on the lure the hook springs upwards and the hook point is exposed giving a very high hooking-rate.
Rather than use a weighted jig hook, I like to attach a separate weight to the hook ‘Jika-style’ so that I can change the loading quickly. A small arleseley bomb, attached using a small clip, is all that you need to complete the set-up. You can use all sorts of different soft plastic baits on this type of rig, but I tend to use a simple worm bait, such as the Westin CurlTeez. The slim profile makes this bait very easy to hook and it works well through weed.
One of the latest trends that I am seeing in lure fishing is the resurgence of small crankbaits for perch. These hard lures work best in the autumn when the perch are feeding hard on coarse fish fry and are willing to chase down baits. On my local rivers it is common to see perch chasing small fish across the surface at dusk, and it is no surprise that this is the time to break out the crankbaits.
With their plastic front lips, crankbaits will dive as soon as the retrieve begins. Choose your lure carefully as the bait has to be matched to the water depth, otherwise you will be fishing either too shallow or too deep. Lures with a medium-sized lip that dive to one to two metres are generally the most useful. The fast action of these lures puts out a lot of vibration into the water. Many also contain internal rattles, all of which will attract perch from quite some distance and often fish will appear out of nowhere to nail a crankbait at the last second. Try winding the lure down hard at the start of the cast, then ease off, pausing every few turns of the reel handle to allow the lure to hang for a few seconds before beginning the retrieve once again.
Lure fishing really is so much fun in the autumn as the perch are really aggressive and you can get some fantastic action. Don’t be surprised if you witness gangs of perch chasing after your lure, before the boldest accelerates forward and grabs it. Exciting times await!
QUICK TIP - Wire traces
Small jack pike can be a real problem when perch fishing in the autumn, especially as we are going to be working lure fast, which tends to trigger them into striking. For this reason, I always use a light wire trace to avoid being bitten off in the autumn.
This simple rig enables you to change the weight of your lure very quickly and without needing to retackle.
You can buy specialist rigs designed for this style of fishing, but I tend to make my own out of a few widely available components. Fished with a worm-shaped bait, this is the ideal set-up for fishing weedy or snaggy venues.
Lightly nose-hook a worm bait on a wide-gape hook. I use a size 1 hook for a 4-inch bait to give enough hook gape for correct rigging.
Turn the hook through 180-degrees and push the point through the body of the worm. When rigged correctly the hook point should lie flat against the body of the bait.
Attach a small link clip to the eye of the hook.
Fix a 5-15gram bomb to the clip. Use heavier weights for fishing in deeper water or faster flowing water so that you can feel when the bait hits the bottom.
Attach the hook eye to your trace.