Perch Soup

What is the old saying….”When life gives you lemons, make lemonade“. In angling parlance, or at least in my case last night, the equivalent would be “When fishing gives you Perch, make Perch Soup“.

I was desperate to get out though, to be frank, the old aching bones aren’t exactly filling me with the “joy of movement” to quote a well know TV ad. But it was a lovely evening and I have not fished Coulter much this year so had a wee drive around the back of the village and up the hills. I was a little surprised to see only one car there, and that belonged to an angler who was leaving. He had had a couple of hours and told me he had not seen a fish move or touched a trout, though he had, caught a few Perch. He told me he had fished hard on the bottom over quite an area and not so much as a pull had he managed. I had gone up with the intent of bank fishing, but seeing the wind was blowing right into the boathouse shore I decided, though I had no outboard with me, to take a boat and oars and just fish the bay behind the main dam wall. It is quite weedy up the far side and yeah likely I would encounter Perch but you know? So what, it’s fishing and if that’s all that’s taking it still beats being sat at home watching the TV.

A Cast for all Species

North Coulter

North Coulter last night

With this mindset I put on a three fly cast, a small black zonker base lure with a heavy bead on point to get to the bottom ( assuming I could avoid getting weeded up), a butcher on the middle dropper ( not a conventional dropper fly but I saw it and thought why not, and a bushy Bibio Snatcher on the top dropper). Yes, I know a small lure probably wasn’t going to put the Perch off, but by the same token, there was a method in the madness. A few years ago I went up one night, fished for trout with conventional patterns and caught nothing but Perch, four or five of them. When I got back to the boathouse I was talking to some other anglers who had bagged up on Trout. A black lure had been the weapon of choice. So why not? If it didn’t do anything but catch me Perch then so what, I was out fishing, and being in the area I was, would keep a weather eye out for any riseforms and as soon as I got wind of a rise would change to a single dry and just target the rising fish….. that was the plan at least.

Before I set out, I had a quick look in the catch return book. It made for grim reading. Two pages and I don’t think a single trout caught in maybe 10 days or so. Oh well, my expectations were far from high. To be fair the water though lower than normal, isn’t as low as I have seen it, and also it didn’t feel incredibly warm, and with a brisk breeze surely that would take off some heat. I have fished in warmer conditions and seen quite a lot of activity in the past.

A small Perch

First of many

One, two….,three…

Out in the bay right at the top with the boat turned square on to the wind my first few casts had nothing then suddenly a pull, though it was far from heart-stopping and yes, a small Perch. A few more casts, another, then another, and then a fourth though, to be honest, I have never actually seen such a small Perch before. It was teensie!

I had by now drifted down past the boom on the dam wall so turned the boat and rowed back to start nearer the weedy far side this time.

A bigger Perch

A pretty big Perch by my standards. No specimen but big in these waters

A few more casts and I had a good pull, I thought, “hello, is that Mr Trout?” and cannot tell a lie but was surprised to see quite easily the biggest Perch I have ever caught on the end of my line. It wasn’t HUGE, it wasn’t a specimen, but in my personal experience, it’s the biggest I have seen close up, around half a pound or so. What made things more amusing was that I had a triple hook up. A fish on each fly with the biggest on the point. I decided to net the big (ish) boy and then with it in the net unhook the smaller fish. As I did this, and my butcher fell in the water, it drew up another fish and I realised I was looking down into a collosal shoal of Perch, and a few big ones there too! It was like a hungry pack of Pirhana’s surrounding the boat, there were hundreds! By the time I dealt with the three hooked fish then the one I caught by dropping the hook in the water, I had four in the net. I decided just to leave it and “build a weight” to use the Coarse fishing analogy.

Finally on the dry fly

When I saw my first fish rise as the sun disappeared behind the Ochils and the wind dropped I was on fifteen. I let them all go back and changed over to a dry. There were quite a few sedges coming off by now. Not millions but visible and obvious. It was the only fly life I could see so pretty much had to be what the three or four rising fish I saw further down the bay, were on.

Nice sunset at Coulter

It was still a nice night to be out

All set up I slowly paddled into the rough area I saw the rising fish. There were a couple of plops as fish rose right in the weeds, and I slowly got closer, then there was a rise right in front, not two rod-lengths away. I flicked the fly out but nothing came. Then another behind the boat but a good distance. It was a long way and my cast fell maybe two feet short of where I would have liked it but doubt I could have reached. I waited then there was a “plop” and my fly vanished.

“Fish on!”………… Perch! whit!?

I don’t think I have ever caught a Perch on a dry and it really made me think all the fish rising are likely Perch too. With 16 on the scoreboard time to call it a night.