Coarse Fishing


Our brief, plain speaking guide to perch. Handle with care.

Anthony Bradley

Perch are coarse fishing’s own little special forces unit, with their military-style olive green striped camouflage to blend into weeds and reeds, short and stocky bodies, rugged scales, and short snouty faces with a widely-opening mouthful of nibbly teeth to grasp other small fish. If that doesn’t give them away, dual dorsal fins in line, and pairs each of pelvic and pectoral fins  – all yellow-orange – should help. Careful when handling them: the first dorsal and anal fins have sharp spines, and the opercula can be knife sharp too.
Finding them
Perch can be found in ponds, lakes, streams, and slow-flowing rivers, stalking water foliage and roots for an easy meal – which could quite easily be another unsuspecting smaller perch – or anything within easy range. They are not bullet fast like a pure ambush predator, but they are tough, have stamina, and will work together to crowd smaller fish into packs to be picked off, often gathering in shadowed water under trees and bridges. As years go by, they can become more of a lone wolf and more solitary.
Food and bait
Young perch will tuck into aquatic insects before moving on to smaller fish such as minnows, gudgeon, and roach – often just the things a coarse fisher would be chasing too. Their appetite means they are easily tempted with many baits, with deadbait proving very effective when fresh in even muddy waters. Big lobworms work a treat, and shiny lures or fish too. Watch out for them swallowing hooks whole, so have a disgorger or forceps to hand.
Perch spawn April to May in shallows, with a single female laying long strands of eggs for numerous males to try and fertilise.
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