The picture of the perch shown above was taken directly from the website of a fishery I, and a number of my angling friends fish regularly. Just a few miles from my home, it's a convenient spot for the short after-work evening sessions that I and my pals are always looking to squeeze into the gaps in our busy lives. Add to that the fact that John and Anne, the owners of Spring Grange have over the years created a beautiful environment in which to fish, and it's easy to see why we find ourselves pulled, as if by a hidden magnet, to its verdant, tree-lined banks.
Most anglers at the fishery target its carp (which are plentiful and catchable), but my attention has been turning to its perch, not only because species perca fluvitalis is, by some considerable margin, my favourite of all British freshwater fish, but because the fish from the website photo demands respect, and invites the question is that fish, or perhaps an even bigger monster, still to be found hiding in the snags and waiting to pounce on an unwary fingerling roach or rudd, or- better still- my bait?
The largest perch I've ever seen caught from the venue weighed in at 1 pound and 14 ounces, caught by an angler pole fishing in the swim next door to me, one evening when carp were my quarry. So far this year I've made just two visits to the lake, and on each occasion have landed perch of better than average, but not eye-poppingly enormous, size, as illustrated here:
Also, getting in on the act in recent weeks was my angling partner Roger and others, such as Paul and Pete have landed perch of quality, although not specimen, proportions.
All of which starts to build a composite picture that is planting more than the seed of a thought in my mind. Might not the time be ripe for a proper perch campaign on the lake? If, without trying too hard, a number of decent perch have found their way onto our hooks what would be the fruit of a concerted effort? What if the pint of maggots and tub of worms was augmented with prawns, Predator Plus laced groundbait and more serious intent?
It's beginning to look a lot like I know what I'll be doing this Autumn, and, until then, every time I close my eyes I'll find myself picturing the fish from the website photograph- that spectacular humped shoulder and cavernous mouth, the fish dwarfing the angler's hand. Of such things dreams are made, and even if I only end up tangling with little rascals, such as the fish caught and displayed by my son in the final photo of this article it will have been a dream worth pursuing, and time happily and well spent. This is one hunch that simply demands to be followed ....