I love fishing from my boat but equally I hate all the towing, launching and palaver that goes with it. However once I’m loaded and afloat and the engine is ticking over I’m as happy as Larry. That’s what I done today, for the first time since March I was fishing from my boat, trolling a Fenland river for Pike and Perch to be precise. The weather was mainly cloudy with the sun poking through every now and again and a fresh wind from the west. The river varied from stretch to stretch but was mainly clear and weedy. I had three rods set up; a heavy Jerkbait rod for large Pike lures, a medium lure rod for Pike & Perch and you’ve guessed it a light rod for Perch.
Trolling really is great fun, I love it! Some people seem to think it’s purely a case of dragging lures behind a boat and the fish will throw themselves on the hook. Sadly this isn’t true and trolling needs as much thought and attention as any other style of fishing. Here in East Anglia we don’t have to battle with the technicalities of trolling the vast depths and open waters of a glacial lake, no nothing as easy as that. Trolling the shallow fen rivers is a battle against the weed. The stuff growing up from the river bed or flat on the surface can be overcome quite easily after a bit of trial and error but the stuff that is loose and drifting is a bloody nightmare.
Today there was loads of the drifting crap coming down stream to piss me off and on days like this there’s nothing else to do but wind in, strip the lure and get it back out there again. Try doing that whilst trolling two rods and steering at the same time and then say it’s an easy, lazy method. Those guys up north have it easy, all that deep, clear, weed free water – they couldn’t hack it on a proper eastern river! Usually this river is prolific and the sport can be hectic but today started slowly, partly due to chopping and changing a few lures to find a couple that would run in the zone between the weed and the surface.
I spent a couple of hours going over a stretch between two drains that had been very productive in previous seasons. I began by fishing the heavier gear and larger lures, catching a couple of Jacks for my trouble then scaled down and caught my first Perch of the season on a trolled spinner. When I was a kid, Perch were not exactly rare in this part of the world but nowhere near as prolific as they are today. All the time I spent lure fishing as a youngster – using plugs and spinners that would be considered small by today’s standards yet I can only remember catching one or two Perch on lures. Last season I jammed an absolute monster whilst Pike fishing and since then I’ve caught many more Perch on lures by design yet I still get a buzz from doing so, it may sound daft but every Perch I catch on a lure is still a surprise to me.
After trolling the stretch a few times I cut the engine and drifted down on the current, switching rods and lures as I went. This produced another Jack and another small Perch on the spinner before I noticed a good sized Perch which seemed to be using the boat as cover. I flicked the spinner just ahead of it and wound it back towards the Perch which swam forward and engulfed it, easy as you like! This fish gave a good scrap on the lighter gear before I got it to the boat. I weighed it at 1lb 9ozs and to be honest I thought it was bigger. It was a tatty old fish with missing fins and scars; it looked like it had been in a close encounter with a decent Pike in its past. Or maybe it got in this state because it’s so daft and easy to catch!
Soon after I was back on the engine and went for a long troll downstream. I noticed that a lot of so called bankside “improvements” had taken place since my last visit about six months previously. Lots of bankside bushes had been removed and I can’t think why? They overhung the water and provided cover for fish but nowhere near enough to impede navigation, I can only guess that an over zealous angling club want to make access easier for their members. Twats! Anyway I caught a couple more Pike in areas that I had caught from in the past but noticed that some places that had been consistently good previously were unproductive. Was this because the bloody bushes had been cut down by some no brain Nazis? Only time will tell.
I started to make my way back to base, concentrating on the Perch and picked them up at intervals. The spinner generally caught me smaller fish of 6 – 8ozs whilst I picked up fish of 12ozs + on an alphabet lure called a “Cobra” which is odd as it has a flashing red light inside it. I’m not sure if this improves catches but it doesn’t seem to put them off. I wasn’t far from the launch site when the spinner was taken again and I wasn’t sure what I’d hooked. It turned out to be a Chub of about a pound which was a welcome surprise. I finished fishing around 1:30 pm with six small Pike and eight Perch, (as well as the Chub) which was nice but nothing special for this river. Disappointing? No, a day afloat on the Fen Rivers is always time well spent.