Thames Perch on the Pole

I always look forward to a couple of hours fishing on the mighty river Thames before heading off to the office whether it be a spot of feeder fishing for bream, running a stick float through for roach or like today, pole fishing for perch.

Perfect venue

The free fishing stretch near Walton Bridge in Surrey is a brilliant venue as it has a free car park right on the river bank, so no long walks, just arrive, unload, set up and start fishing. This stretch is deep, around 10ft at 10m and the reason for targeting perch, and hopefully a few roach, is there’s hardly any flow due to the dry, hot summer. 

Rise and fall

I’ve dropped into a swim opposite the café, literally just twenty steps from where I’ve parked. It’s a typical swim with cabbages close in and deep water on the other side. There are a few fish dimpling which is encouraging, probably roach and dace plus the odd predator chasing these. First job is to plumb up and as expected it’s not far of ten feet at just nine metres. As I will be edging the float through the swim slowly, I’ve decided to fish a couple of inches over depth. This will allow me to hold the float back on occasions allowing the bait to rise and fall in the water, a good tactic, especially for perch. 

perch bait
worm pole rig
worm pole rig 2

Hazardous feeding

Although my main hookbait choice is worm, I’ve also brought along some casters which can be deadly on their day plus some red maggots just in case it proves really tough, yet usually the bleak mean these don’t get a look in! Although there is very little flow, loose feeding can be a bit hazardous in such deep water as it’s difficult to gauge just where they end up, it also attracts the bleak so I’m going to introduce three balls of Champions Feeder Black Roach groundbait, which I mixed up on arrival, laced with chopped worm and casters. This is introduced accurately, straight out using a big pole cup and will hit the bottom around a foot further down, an area that I can fish over the top and hopefully concentrate some fish to feed on. If the flow is faster I tend to use a bait dropper which might be ‘old school’ but it tells me exactly where the feed has been deposited! During the session I’m also to ping a few casters over the float which will hopefully attract some silver fish in feeding as well as dragging a few better perch from downstream and if the fishing is really productive the odd ball of groundbait will be fed. 

Straight forward

As for the rig its really straight forward, a 1g pear shaped Tangi pole float which is cocked with a single olivette positioned around eighteen inches above the hook plus two small dropper shot equally spread on the hook length. The pole I’m using is the Sphere Zero-G PT+, 1.9mm Microbore pink elastic which has a 7-9 rating, mainline is 0.16mm Cenex Hybrid Power Mono, hook length is the same but in a 0.10mm diameter and at the business end is a size 18 Sphere Match micro barbed hook which might be switched to a size 16 if the bigger perch turn up. 

Early start

The fishing always seems to be best in the mornings here, probably due to this stretch being extremely popular with kayaks and canoes, so if you’re planning a trip make sure you arrive early! First drop in with a red maggot and as expected a bleak hits the bait so its straight over to a single caster and it’s not long before the elastic stretches out as a half decent perch hits the net. A few more follow but the bleak are still problematic so it’s time to try double caster which produces a bite but soon after hooking a small perch a pike grabs it. As expected the swim slows up after the first hour so it’s time to try a worm and that seems to bring the swim back to life but its noticeable that as the clock ticks the fish get smaller, probably due to the water being gin clear, the light levels rising, that pike being in my swim as well as the boat traffic increasing. 

Angling fix

Having just a couple of hours at my disposal in the morning its might seem a lot of effort for such a small window of opportunity but it’s a great way to start the day as I miss the motorway traffic, get my angling fix and it keeps me in touch with the river as come the autumn when the roach move in or the bream turn up I will be ready and waiting.  

Justin Watkins

perch catch
perch catch 2

Justin’s Tackle

Sphere Zero-G Pt+ Pole

Microbore Pink Elastic

Cenex 0.16mm & 0.10mm Hybrid Power Mono

Sphere 18 Match Hook

1g Tangi Pole Float

0.9g Olivette plus two No8 dropper shot

Justin’s Bait

Red worm


Red Maggot

Champion’s Feeder Black Roach Groundbait

cenex line
sphere match hooks

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