Paul Bailey 5lb 4oz Perch

The one that didn’t get away!
Paul Bailey had been fishing his local Aire & Calder Canal and was guiding a lovely 2lb perch to the net when he noticed a much larger perch following it in. After seeing the substantially bigger fish, he couldn’t get the fish out of his head so returned to the same swim several times in hope of landing the big specimen. His persistence paid off when this lovely 5lb 4oz predator took a liking to his jumbo prawn hookbait!He told us “I’ve been fishing a stretch of the canal controlled by the Boothferry Joint Committee, and have, slightly unusually, been stret-pegging. This old float fishing tactic isn’t used much these days, and although it’s more suited to rivers, it can still work well on canals, especially where the canal narrows or above or below a bridge – anywhere where you get an increase in pace.

I use a small balsa float fixed to the line with two float rubbers, which I set roughly 3ft over depth, and pinch a single No6 shot eight inches from the bait. A size 6 wide gape hook finishes the set-up, on which I mount my hookbait – a jumbo prawn. These have to be my all-time favourite big perch bait. There’s no perch that swims that can resist a juicy prawn, so the bigger the bait, the better! But anyone hoping to use these must realise that they’re not going to get as many takes as you would on say worms, livebaits, lures, or even smaller king prawns. The jumbo baits are selective, and it’s usually a case of ‘big or bust’. I’ll generally introduce smaller prawns sparingly as loosefeed.

Stet-pegging is a fairly simple tactic, and the way I fish it is by casting out and allowing the slack line to tighten to the bait. I’ll then leave it for maybe 10 minutes, and if nothing happens, I lift the rod and let the float move a few yards down the canal, and then repeat the process. If there are any reluctant perch in the swim, this movement of the bait will more often than not entice a bite, and that’s exactly what happened when I landed this five-pounder.

I was fishing an early morning session, as I usually do, and had been on the bank for about an hour, when on my fourth ‘stret’, just as the bait settled, the prawn was grabbed! I hooked a fish that put up a terrific fight. For 10 minutes my heart was going ten to the dozen, as I’d seen the perch surface soon after hooking it and had an idea it was the giant I’d seen a couple of weeks previously.

Thankfully, it was soundly netted, weighed and released, all done with trembling hands!
Although I’ll have odd perch sessions throughout the year, my main perch campaign runs from the close of the river season to around late April. The perch are generally in a greedy mood and are in peak condition, making the following weeks the perfect time to have a go for them on a venue near you, and, if you can find a spot on a canal where there’s a touch of extra pace, stret-pegging is well worth trying!

Well done Paul!