Specimen fishing for perch has to be one, if not my favourite style of fishing. I like to fish for them in rivers and lakes and some recent sessions have just been insane! I am lucky to be able to fish them in not too pressured waters and also spend sufficient time on the water to be able to follow them so, sessions with a couple of fish of over 50cm are quite common!
Shoals of bait fish are the first thing to look for as big perch will never be far from their food! It’s a start, but once you have found them, you need to find the right lure and animation that will get them into a feeding frenzy!
One of my favourite lures for that is the Gunki Kaiju Blade; the trick is to cast it further than the spot you aim to fish and let it sink to the bottom, retrieve at high speed for a few seconds, stop and let it sink back to the bottom, repeat this action all the way to the boat. Sometimes the fish will follow right up to the boat and as the lure is about to come out of the water, intercept your lure with violence. Seeing a perch of over 50cm do this is just one of those things that you will never forget!
Another thing to look for is underwater structures as that is where big perch like to hide and to hunt. When there are active I’ll use “active” techniques to try and “call” them away from their hiding place. Like that I’ll be able to catch more fish from the same spot than if I had fished directly on it. To do so, I like to use soft baits that produce lots of vibrations like the Gunki G’Bump or a Chatterbait. If the fish do not respond to that, then it is time to fish closer to the structure using minimalistic animations and for than the new Gunki “Think Finesse” range is just perfect (Kiddy, Tipsy...).
Fishing for specimen perch is a totally different ball game to fishing a shoal of a 1000 small ones, if you lose one or release one where you caught it from, 9 times out of 10, you won’t get another bite. If these perch have grown to such a size, it’s because they have managed to outwit everything Mother Nature and anglers have thrown at them so far, which means you’ve got to be smarter!
Even though I fish overseas or regularly catch much bigger fish, fishing for specimen perch always gives me such a kick. Every single moment of hunting for specimen perch is magical but, seeing these olive green, stripy black, red finned, creamy bellied beauties swim back to where they belong has to be the best part about it!
Vincent de Bruyne
Fishing Guide at The Moulin de Sauvage, France