With summer rapidly approaching, myself and angling buddy Glenn Drennan planned our last perch adventure for the time being. Don’t misunderstand me, I will continue chasing that elusive three-pound perch throughout the year, or years if needs be. However, we are now into the month of May and with the consequent rise in water temperature, there will be too many other species queuing up to be caught. For the time being at least, hunting my old stripey adversary will soon have to go on the back-burner for a while.
Ryan, an angling mate of ours heard of our perch plight and suggested an area on Lough Erne that had some possibility of turning up a sizeable fish. To back this up, I heard of a group of UK anglers that were bream fishing in this area same time last year and amongst the large shoals of bream, they also caught perch to four pounds! Ryan fishes this mark quite regularly, and had been over the area a few days previous, whilst pike angling from his kayak. His fish finder showed dense bait-fish shoals marking in key hot-spots. It was definitely worth a try, and for me, always interesting to fish a new venue.
The forecast gave squally showers with north-west gusts of twenty mph, and for once, they were correct. It was never going to be a pleasant day, especially on a lough of this size, but it was our last determined perch effort for the foreseeable future and worth a shot. Well wrapped up against the rain and bitter-cold north-westerly’s, we ventured out in Glenn’s nineteen foot McAlinden lough boat, and searched the deeper troughs for signs of bait fish. Ryan’s directions were excellent and we soon found areas with plenty of markings on the screen.
The plan was to throw an H-block marker float over the main density of markings, then carry out a series of drifts with drop shot tactics and our trusty Berkley Lures. Soft baits such as hollow bait split tails, ripple grubs and shads, killer patterns that have caught many perch for me during recent sessions. At over a knot, the drift was running far too fast for perfect presentation, but using the drogue brought us down to a respectable 0.2 of a knot, where the lures could be bounced and jigged off the lake bed and made to dance with ease.
Perch simply lined up to be caught, and our old friend Esox was rarely far away. Despite the inclement weather, we caught and released well in excess of one hundred and fifty perch, and at least a dozen pike. The largest perch touched the one pound mark and the pike averaged five or six pounds. Fair enough, my specimen perch evaded capture yet again, but never have I seen so many fish show up to lure tactics, it really was truly remarkable how well these lures react to our local predator species. Glenn even caught a roach on one!
By late afternoon the weather worsened and it was time to run for home. A river section on the way back to the slipway offered sheltered angling for an hour and we tempted numerous half pound perch and jacks from around the stanchions and floating pontoons of small private jetties. To be honest, my arm was aching by this stage, and I’d had enough perch hunting for one month!
Summer is approaching at long last. For me, it is now time to look ahead to the relaxing peace of a misty morning, waiting for a seven pound wild Irish tench to gently pull the peacock quill under, or the bite alarm to register in my bivvy as a specimen hybrid picks up a hair rigged grain of corn. If the weather and tide allows, I will be at sea with every given opportunity to tackle the leviathans cruising in the deep off-shore waters of the Antrim Coast. Such is the demand of the specimen hunter in Ireland, I can’t wait.