My main focus with the Ultralight fishing has always been in Saltwater. I live on an Island surrounded by the stuff, which happens to provide some very good sport of all varieties, but for the LRF Angler it can be exceptional.
Having said that I have always wanted to explore the freshwater lure fishing potential on the Island. Unfortunately opportunities are few and far between and pretty much a non starter for various reasons. The local club waters I belong to that contain any head of Perch and Pike are, for much of the year coloured up due to the large head of all species of fish that are resident. This makes targeting them with lures a non starter, I have tried it several times in the past few years without success. However, just lately they have started to become less murky, which could be down to predation by Cormorants so there is a lesser head of fish in the lakes, or the biology of the lakes has changed facilitating the better clarity and now we are into the winter months, although not crystal clear, there is at least enough visibility for lures to be a viable option.
So it was with some slight trepidation. and not really knowing what to expect, that I set out last weekend to explore the lakes, three of them on the complex, and their potential with regards to Ultralight lure fishing. The first lake I tried had me wondering if I was on a hiding to nothing. I have caught Perch from all the lakes on bait before but I hadn’t fished them for two or three years and I am aware that many of the larger Perch that used to be in the waters have since died out and I wasn’t sure what head of younger generation may still be in them. No bites were forthcoming on the first lake, and after about 45 minutes, I decided to try another lake.
I had rigged up with a dropshot set up as I expected any fish to be lying in the margins which contain a variety of obstacles such as lilies, roots and sunken branches. The dropshot would enable me to search these danger fraught areas without too much fear of getting snagged up. I also felt that a small lure presented twelve inches off the deck would be more effective than a jig head bounced along hard on the bottom.
I think it was my second cast in my first choice swim that I had a few taps on the lure. My hopes were raised instantly but after a few more flicks of the lure no more interest was forthcoming. I moved to another spot containing a large dead lily bed and proceeded to explore the area with the dropshot. Almost straight away I had a few taps and found myself winding in a small Perch. Success! To say I was delighted is an understatement, It may only have been a small example, but the two inch Nano Minnow lure was firmly taken into it’s mouth, no messing about. This was my first ever Perch on lures from these lakes and it spurred me on.
I continued working the area of bank, thankfully, there were only a couple of other anglers on the lake and they were on the opposite side to me and screened by tree covered Islands so I had relative peace and freedom to get on with my experiment undisturbed. This bank is also the darker bank as it doesn’t get a lot of sunlight at this time of year and I was certain it would be were any Predators would prefer to be given the lower light levels. Not that there was much sunshine as it was quite overcast, but still the lower light here was ideal for the task in hand.
I managed another couple of small Perch, still moving from swim to swim and working them with the dropshotted Nano minnow. I chose a clear version with lots of different coloured flake as I felt it would be a good representation of the small silver fish that are the staple food of the Perch in these lakes. It seemed to be a good choice as I flicked the lure out towards the back of some dead lily pads and worked it back towards me, keeping the line close to the edge of the lilies. A couple of yards from the bank I had a few taps and the tip of the rod bent slightly so I struck. Instantly I could tell I was attached to a much bigger fish. My first thought was it might be a small pike but as the fish ploughed around in front of me I realised the fight was that of a Perch…
Several times I had to give line and having seen the fish deep down I now knew for certain it was a Perch, and a good one! My legs had turned to jelly as I scrambled to get the net ready and just as I managed to bring the Perch to the surface a large Pike rolled over next to it as it tried to grab my hard earned prize! All I could do was shout Nooooooo!
Luckily the Pike missed and I quickly scooped what was obviously a very good Perch into the net! I had omitted to bring my scales with me, but I have caught enough big Perch over the years to know when I am looking a three pound fish and I didn’t need scales to tell me I was looking at a very solid three pounder.
The Perch was very thick across it’s back and, for the time of year, reasonably plump. It was in immaculate condition and clearly a rarely caught fish. I was completely over the moon with the result! I did my customary whoop of delight! A few quick pictures and I returned it to the water advising it to watch out for Esox that had tried to eat it a few minutes ago!
By now I was really buoyed by the success I had found so far. The next cast in another spot produced a small Pike. Of course I immediately thought I had hooked another good Perch but after a moment or two the different fight told me it was a Pike. Classically hooked in the scissors as is normally the case with Pike on the dropshot, I estimated the weight at about five pounds, slipped the hook out, took a couple of quick pictures and returned it back to the water.
I worked the water a bit more and had another couple of small Perch and then it seemed to go quiet. Figuring I’d probably had the best from the area for now and as it was approaching mid afternoon I made the move to the last lake on the complex. When I had arrived this one had been fairly busy with pleasure anglers, but I guessed most of them would start making a move by mid afternoon and so it proved to be the case as the area that I fancied which had previously been occupied by several anglers was now empty. This lake is normally the most coloured but looking down into the water with my polarised glasses I could see the visibility was on a par with the other two lakes. Game on!
In years gone by I had taken many two and three pound Perch from this lake on bait in the winter, but back then the clarity wasn’t as good as it is now. Unfortunately it seems that many of those specimens have now passed on and most of the Perch that are left are of a younger generation from a few ounces to around a pound and a half or so. Hopefully they will grow on like their predecessors and a new generation of giants will provide thrilling sport in the next few years. There are also no Pike in this Lake. As before I began to work an area and after a few minutes started getting some interest. I missed a few bites before landing the smallest Perch of the day of around four or five ounces. Still using the two inch Nano minnow, it barely fit into his mouth. A few more of a similar size came to hand and eventually time began to run out as I had to leave shortly but before I did I managed a couple of fish around the twelve ounces to a pound mark.
I left feeling very chuffed with myself having achieved what had at first seemed like a fairly daunting challenge on these lakes, however thanks to the clarity that they seem to be experiencing presently the result is certainly unprecedented and I will definitely be pursuing more lure fishing on these lakes as long as I am able whilst visibility remains good.
Tackle wise I used my old faithful Graphite leader Calzante, 0.6-8gram Ultralight rod, 8lb Mainline and 6lb (stiff ) Fluorocarbon dropshot leader with a 3.5 gram weight. Hook was the VMC 7119 Dropshot hook in size 2. Lure was a 2.2 inch Crazy fish Nano Minnow in clear with a blue/black/gold fleck.