Super Sergeants - James Armstrong

Since catching my target carp back in October, I’ve turned my attentions to specimen perch. This belligerent, irritable species interests me massively. Their prominent, sergeant stripes, rough flanks, spiny fins and angry looks say one thing… attitude!

It was this that attracted me to them in the first place. Added to this was the fact that they’re renowned to feed on the coldest of days when carp quite often don’t. I had two rivers in mind – the Ouse and the Ivel. Both are complete opposites. The Ouse is a large, snaggy river compared to the Ivel, which you can literally jump across in places. Consequently, I’d have to target them very differently.

I was pinpointing the perch in the Ouse on a long stretch located in Milton Keynes. I walked the stretch a couple of times and felt confident that a few sergeants would be located in some of the snaggy, tree-lined areas. My plan was to do it properly, and by that I mean traditionally. I wanted to trot a stick float down the edge and use lobworms as the hook bait. This requires finesse and skill.

It took a couple of sessions to learn their whereabouts and on one particular session I just knew that conditions were spot on – the river was low and clear, ideal for sight feeders. I fed a few swims in the morning with chopped worms, casters and prawns. On only the second trot through the float buried and I hooked into an angry stripy. Amazingly, it was the biggest of my winter so far weighing 2lb 14oz. I caught a few more that day to over 1lb, so it was a great start.
Just for a change I’ve also started on the Ivel; a deep, secluded river that just screams specimen coarse fish. It’s far more barren than the Ouse, with only the odd fallen tree. However, beneath the surface is another world – cabbages, lilies, weed; you name it. I haven’t done too much on the river as yet, just two or three sessions, but so far I’ve managed two big perch up to 2lb 8oz, which is a great start. I can see myself enjoying my time here.

Tactics wise, everything has fallen to the stick float. I’ve been using a mixture of Guru Drag Line in 4lb and N-Gauge. I’ve been tying on size-8 or 10 Mixa hooks using a grinner knot, with a simple lobworm as the hook bait. Nothing complicated. What I have learnt is that perch are very finicky feeders, especially big sergeants, so the less resistance the better. And… of course… location is key!
I’m absolutely loving it at the moment and I really hope that I can latch into some of the big, old warriors that lurk in our rivers in the not to distant future.