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How To Catch Perch

Perch is the name given to the Percidae family of freshwater fish. Perca fluviatilis is the type found in Europe, but other varieties occur in different parts of the world. This breed of fish is easy to identify. It has two dorsal fins, one spiny, the other soft; the body has between six and nine dark green vertical bars on each side, which lets the fish camouflage itself when in proximity to aquatic vegetation. The fish's nickname among anglers is 'stripey'.


The size that these fish grow to very much depends on the habitat in which they live. The fish can grow to be more than 5 lb (2.3 kg) in weight but most anglers are content with specimens that are 1 lb (0.45 kg) or greater. The UK record is 6 lb 2 oz (2.8 kg) for a fish caught in 2008.

How And Where To Catch Perch

These fish are found in both still and running water. They can be found in many different waters throughout the UK, in small ponds, streams, rivers, canals, reservoirs and lakes. Many fish show a preference for living close to sunken tree stumps or wooden pilings. They are also partial to deep narrow channels and areas under bridges. Their eyes can see light in the near infra red spectrum which gives them an added advantage when they are searching for prey in low light conditions. These fish are often found amongst reeds, where their dark vertical striped bodies make them difficult to spot, particularly at dawn or dusk.

Some anglers contend that these fish are easier to catch in winter than in summer. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that they range more widely during the summer months, hunt more actively and tend to frequent deeper, faster flowing waters. In winter, they move around less, in order to conserve energy when food is less plentiful. It has been suggested that this combination of less movement and less food being available in winter makes the fish more likely to take maggots and worms when offered as bait.

Breeding Habits

The fish spawn in the early spring and shoals swimming towards their breeding areas can often be seen at that time of year. A female in good condition can lay up to 300,000 eggs in the spawning season. The strings of sticky white eggs become attached to gravel, aquatic weeds, reeds and submerged trees. The fry hatch after 8 to 9 days; many are rapidly eaten by predators including birds, eels and other fish. Initially, the fry eat insect larvae and plankton, but as they grow in size they will increasingly eat small fish of many species, including their own. Even relatively small specimens of this fish can be aggressive predators. If food is plentiful, the fish can grow to be up to 4 lb (1.8 kg) in weight by the time they reach seven years of age. However, if food is in short supply, a seven year old fish could be as small as 9 oz (250 g) in weight.


These fish are marauders and often hunt in shoals. They chase small fish into shallow water where they become trapped and will then be consumed by the shoal. They are capable of swallowing fish up to half their own body length. Because of this forceful behaviour whilst hunting, these fish are prepared to take a varied selection of different baits including minnows, worms, maggots, bread, sweet corn and even cubes of processed meat or cheese. Spinning is an alternative method of catching these fish.


The most appropriate type of rod for this kind of fishing is either a standard coarse fishing rod or a small spinning rod. A fixed-spool reel is recommended containing a relatively high breaking strain (4 lb, 1.8 kg) line. Strictly speaking, a line of this weight should not be necessary, but the extra strength is useful if the line gets snagged on underwater obstacles when trying to tease fish out from their hiding places.

In open waters such as lakes and flooded gravel pits, spinning is often an effective fishing method. A small Mepps spinner or a twinkling fly spoon spinner is recommended by many fishermen. The speed at which the spinner is reeled in should be varied because, apparently, the spinning lure moving at varying speeds through the water resembles a fish in distress and this will encourage the hunting instincts of the fish that the angler is targetting.

These fish tend to feed during the late evening or early morning, so these are the best times to try to make your catches.

Paternoster Rig

Many anglers recommend the paternoster rig for this type of fishing. This rig consists of a lead 'bomb' attached to a short line that is attached to the main line about 2 feet (60 cm) from the hook. This allows the baited hook to be positioned optimally in order to increase its attractiveness to the fish being pursued.


Perca fluviatilis is well known for swallowing hooks, so a disgorger is an essential tool for the angler undertaking this type of fishing. This tool allows the fish to be unhooked relatively simply.

Books And Websites On How To Catch Perch

This definitive book (ISBN 1855092115) about the subject, edited by Peter Rogers and Steve Burke and illustrated by Luke Bedson, was published in 1990. It consists of a series of essays by top angling writers about this type of fishing. Topics covered include analysis of baits and the number of large fish caught, on a month by month basis, during the period from 1900 to 1988. The book is out of print, so try to borrow a copy from your local library. Second hand copies are available (at a price) and you should currently expect to pay at least £120 for a copy from an online second hand bookseller.




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