Yesterday my good friend Bob Church and I decided to take advantage of the mild and calm conditions, and pay a visit to Grafham Water. Having blanked on the nine previous consecutive occasions I must say I had reservations about going there, but we all know locally that Grafham is capable of throwing up a monster, so we decided to go anyway. It would not surprise me in the least if a record zander were caught from Grafham and it was with thoughts of such a fish that we set off -– expecting a blank, but hoping for a big zed.
Sadly our morning ran true to form, with just one tiny perch being boated – and even that one was foul-hooked!
“If we don’t get a decent fish today I’m never coming to this pox-ridden place again.” I said to Bob who, unlike me, is ever optimistic, and remained confident.
We tried many different areas, but very little showed up on the depth-finder screen, and prospects were not looking good. Eventually we came across a spot where a few fish were evident and, sure enough, half a dozen perch, up to about a pound, soon succumbed to my 3″ rubber lure. These put my run of blanks firmly to bed and cheered me up quite a bit. Indeed the drop-shot method was proving successful once more (I am finding it somewhat addictive, having done well with it on a variety of different waters during the summer).
Then came the moment. Suddenly my little St Croix drop-shot rod hooped over in a satisfying curve, and I found myself attached to a quality fish.
“This is a good one,” I said to Bob. “I will definitely need the net this time… if it stays on!”
I could tell by the spirited ‘bang-bang’ battle that it was certainly not a pike, and assumed that it must be a half-decent zander. Pleasing as that would have been, my mouth dropped open when the fish finally reached the surface and proved to be an enormous perch!
When I caught my first 30lb pike on fly I just knew it was a thirty (although admittedly it only just made it at 30lbs 4oz). This time, as I excitedly looked down into the landing net, I was certain that I had at last achieved a lifetime ambition – a four pound perch!
On careful weighing it was well over the magic number, a true monster perch of 4lbs 8oz exactly. I was floating on air. What a fish! In my life I am sure I have caught literally thousands of perch, including some beauties up to 3lbs 6oz, but somehow I didn’t believe that I would ever get a “four”. As an aside, I well remember fishing Chew Valley Lake for trout with my father in the 80s/90s, and being quite amused hearing Dad say: “Oh it’s a damned perch!”, as yet another two to three-pound perch came to the net! There were scores of them there at that time – occasionally we had two at once on the same cast – and I loved catching and releasing them, but to Dad they were just a nuisance!
Meanwhile, back at Grafham, Bob took several piccies of my fish, which was then released safely back to the depths. My confidence was now sky-high, and I couldn’t seem to go wrong with more perch, a 7lb and 12lb pike, and two baby zander of 6 to 8 inches, all falling to the same lure and making a final tally of nineteen fish.
“Come back Grafham – all is forgiven!”
Bob finished what the afternoon off with a nice perch of his own and we packed up with satisfaction, feeling like we’d done ourselves justice. It all goes to show, yet again, that while your fly’s in the water, you’re in with a chance, and I must try to be a bit more positive in the future.
Watch this space!!