There is a fish, perhaps more widespread than any freshwater species in the country. A fish that is often the first a young angler encounters and one that is thereafter commonly overlooked and under-appreciated. In they’re smaller sizes they are a species that can be found in almost any body of freshwater and can be so numerous that they are frequently viewed as a nuisance by those seeking a more esteemed quarry.

big perch

However, for those fortunate enough to have confronted a slightly larger specimen, it becomes blatantly clear how magnificent these predatory fish are. As the saying goes, “There is no bigger fish than a big Perch.” They are simply a striking looking fish.

Perch average around 8 – 12 ounces and fish over of 1lb are fairly common. However, it’s when these spiky brutes approach the 2lb mark that they truly become hugely impressive. A fish of 3 – 4lbs would be a Perch angler’s dream and a fish of 5lbs would be shaking the Scottish record.

Unlike their smaller brethren, which are usually found in large shoals, queuing up to take an angler’s bait, a large Perch is a much more solitary beast. They are far fewer in numbers and can be difficult to locate and even trickier to fool. It is this elusiveness of big Perch that proposes a true challenge to any specimen angler and for me they have become a slight obsession.

Perch on deadbait

Accidental perch capture on a deadbait.

This obsession was ignited by a chance encounter as much a fifteen years ago while fishing for Pike. The Pike were refusing to cooperate but nevertheless, this session developed into one that I doubt I will ever forget. Within the short space of an hour, I had several Perch show considerable interest in my ledgered Trout baits, resulting in three fish to the net, weighing in at 2lb 8oz, 2lb 12oz and 3lb 4oz. I had never seen Perch anywhere near this size and despite a significant and continued effort, have yet to see another.

I am by no means a specialist angler. I try to vary my fishing as much as possible, targeting as many species as I can. However, I do make time for specifically targeting Perch and the hunt for another 3 pounder continues to this day.

Over the last month or so a fair amount of my time on the bank has been in search of these stunners and although that huge fish has continued to elude me, I have managed plenty fish, with some substantial lumps included. As mentioned earlier, Perch can be found in the vast majority of waters but my far preferred arenas for these exciting quests are some of the many big, deep, glacial lochs that are strewn across Scotland, in particular, Loch Lubnaig, Loch Ard, Loch Ken, and my favorite; ‘the big loch’ itself, Loch Lomond.

Ledgering for perch

Ledgering for perch

Perch can be targeted using numerous methods. Floats, fly, feeders, metals, plastics and running ledgers can all be used successfully to tempt this ravenous little predator. Personally, I generally take one of two approaches and being predominantly a bank angler, this usually depends on where I feel the fish are located. If fishing to features within 20 meters of the bank, whether these be a drop-off, river mouth or marina, my preferred tactic would be to search around with some soft plastics, either fished on a Jig Head or Drop-shotted. However, often the fish may be located out of lure range and this is when ledgering or feeder tactics come into their own.

In my recent experience, I have found it difficult to single out the bigger fish as even a small Perch will happily take a substantial lure or a Lob Worm one and a half times it’s own length. However, if I were to suggest a ‘big fish’ tactic, this would most likely be a 4” Shad style plastic fished on a Jig head and bounced along the bottom. This was an approach that paid off only last week when fishing a steep drop off on Loch Lubnaig, where several stunning fish of up to 2lbs made a very welcome appearance.

When using this exploratory method it pays to travel light and cover the shoreline in search of features. There is no nicer feeling than leisurely wandering around with a light Drop Shot style rod and a small bag on your back and the freedom to go where you please.

maggots

The maggot feeder is a great way to get big numbers of fish

On other occasions finding the larger fish can simply be a numbers game. The aim here is to catch as many fish as possible and hopefully, one or two lumps will be keen to get in on the action. When adopting this approach, there is only one method on my mind. The maggot feeder is a great way to get big numbers of fish feeding right in front of you and can often result in a big net of fish.

This is largely my ‘go-to’ tactic on big waters such as Loch Lomond where huge numbers of fish can be found. Yes, lure tactics can also be very successful here but the feeder allows me to fish at distances of up to 70 meters, where often the fish are shoaled up. Perch have quite an appetite and once a number of fish move in they can easily obliterate an anglers bait supply. This isn’t a method where a wee tub of maggots will get you through the day. In order to keep the fish where you want them, there has to be a constant supply of bait. I will often use up to 3 pints of maggots in a single session.

roach bag

A mixed bag caught whilst perch fishing

Besides the vast amount of bait that is required, this method has a slight drawback for the diehard Perch hunter. It isn’t only Perch that love maggots and on Loch Lomond in particular, huge shoals of Roach and Hybrids can occasionally crowd out the Perch. I personally have little issue with this, as I will happily turn a Perch session into a Roach session and have done so on many an occasion. However, there is a solution if you are set on catching ‘Stripies’.

It is possible to fish with lobworms and still retain the benefits of using a feeder to generate a feeding frenzy. In this situation I would switch the maggot feeder for a cage feeder and rather than use a ground bait, which may still have the tendency to pull in the Roach, I would simply use soil packed with chopped Lob worms and a big Lob on the hook. Roach aren’t overly keen on worms, therefore, this simple switch should give you the best possible chance of that big Perch.

big perch

However these fish are targeted, they are an absolute joy to catch. The big fish may be elusive but they are attainable and with a little time and effort there is every chance of that monster Perch sliding over the net. A big Perch is a very special fish and any time I am lucky enough to come across one, bristling with tenacity and glinting in the sunlight, I am always reminded of this and with a little more time and effort I’m sure I’ll once again get the chance to meet that 3 pounder.

Alex Allan, Angling Active Ambassador