Catch Lots of Perch for under £4

Chopped worm for perch

We are now heading into week 15 of lock-down during the COVID19 pandemic and the government had lifted restrictions on angling a few of weeks ago and had just lifted restrictions on meeting with friends. My daughter who hadn’t seen her University friends since lock down began, asked me if I could drop her off at her friends in Leighton Buzzard for a “socially distant” sleepover. Well why not have a little session down the canal so I set myself a challenge. To catch a load of perch for under £4.

As I only had worms with me as bait, so my main target would be Perch and that meant Slapton would be a good bet. I have fished nearly every section of the Grand Union over the last 35 years and have always done well in matches around this neck of the woods with perch.My swim was not necessarily the one I would have chosen if the temperature wasn’t going to hit 29 degrees and to be honest I found my swim on Google Earth.

I needed an east facing swim with some large trees at my back so I wouldn’t have to endure the soaring temperatures that the day was going to bring. Slapton Bridge was 30 meters to my left and the canal run straight on my right. There was a large turning bay to my left which looked fishy but decided that could wait for another day.

The right perch swim

Grand Union Canal, Slapton, Bridge No120  LU7 9DB

Grand Union Canal Slapton

My chosen swim looked an absolute belter. Depth all the way across the canal and a pile of feature over the far side. On plumbing I found plenty of depth. I had 3 feet 10 inches at three joints,  3 feet 6 inches eighteen inches from the bank and an identical depth over at 13 meters against the trees. This was ideal and with boat traffic virtually none existent due to COVID19 I could hopefully build my spots without too much disturbance. I opted to feed and rotate three spots. The first at three joints. The second, three joints hard left close to the bank where there was a lot of fry. And at 13 m to see if there were any big Perch hunting around the trees.

Bait for perch

Fishing for perch on worms

Like I said, the only bait I had in my bag were around 80 juicy dedrobaena worms that I had fed up on tea bags, carrot peelings and bread along with a quarter bag of groundbait. I decided that if I took any other bait with me it would just be too much of a distraction.
Chopped worm was going to be the method of the day and I was confident that I could get a few bites if I stuck to the method.


Fishing float and hooks
A tiny micro barb helps stop worms falling off

Due to this being a “pleasure session” and with the depth only varying by 6” or so I opted to fish just the one rig. A bit lazy I hear you shouting and yes you are right. I had a Future 0.5g (4×16) Michigan Wire stem (for stability and durability) float with Maxima 4lb mainline and a 3.3lb 0.12 Silstar Match bottom. A bunch of No 8 shot 14” from the hook and a No 8  six inches below that. It may seem a little heavy but I was on my own with no pressure and there were some big perch around.

On a match days I would have scaled down my line size. When worm fishing you really need a barb and my go to hooks are the Image Ghost Barb Hooks. The nice little micro barb (pictured)  helps keep your bait on and aids unhooking. I blackened most of my tip and set my float with only the orange part visible. This helps me detect even the slightest little bite. I love  the long tip of these floats as I can lift the whole tip out of the water and work the bait up and down.

Feeding Tips For Perch

There are a couple of simple ways to feed chopped worm, and would recommend to try these methods if you are new to this type of method. You can introduce them neat (literally just the chopped up worms) or mixed with a carrier or attractor.


Method 1 – The first is to simply chop your worms and deliver them into your swim as they are, neat with the juices. For this method you will need to use a pole cup to deliver them accurately.

Method 2 – The second is to use a carrier. I have been using molehill soil for over 30 years. What’s great about it, is it’s free and can be found in virtually any field. Alternatively you can deliver it in a groundbait of you choice. For this session I used molehill with some groundbait as I wanted to entice some small fish in the areas I was feeding and hopefully draw in the bigger perch.

My recipe for this session was 25% SSP groundbait and 75% molehill.  I only added chopped worms to the mix when I was going to feed so they didn’t dry out.

Hookbait Presentation Tips for perch

There are numerous ways to present you hookbait so here are three ideas of what I believe to be the most effective options.

  1. Heads or tails: Cut the worm in half and lightly hook it at the cut end.
  2. Whole worm: Hooked though the middle but make sure plenty of hook point is showing
  3. A piece of chopped: Simply lightly hook a piece of you chopped worm you are feeding.
Perch love worms

Power Tip – Work your hookbait 

Working your hookbait is exactly what it says on the tin. Moving your bait to the left and right, lifting you bait off the bottom by as much as 6 inches and moving in closer or farther out from the feeding area. Perch are sight feeders and will hunt in shoals. They are looking for small fry, small fish, tadpoles and small frogs so movement is very important .

The start

I added seven chopped worms (cut into 5mm) pieces to my carrier mix into each of my three swims. All delivered accurately by way of a pole cup. I had a walk a few swims to my left and right so my selected spots could warm up and finally got a bait in the water around ten minutes after introducing my chopped worm.

Starting three joints out, I presented half a worm (the head) lightly hooked in the chopped off end of the worm.  The float hadn’t even settled and I hooked my first Perch of the day. A typical two ounce plump little fella. The same piece of worm was used again and another fish immediately followed by two more.

So, there were a few fish about I topped the swim up with another 4 chopped worms, this time cupped in neat on there own with no carrier.  It is so important not the hammer spot to death so I turned my focus to the inside line. After shallowing up to allow for the shallower water I hooked a medium whole worm and lowered it in.

After working the worm for a minute or so the float finally sailed away and a lovely 5oz Perch graced my landing net. I topped the spot up straight with a couple of neat chopped worms and went over to 13 meters.  First cast and a 6oz skimmer bream was in the net. That was followed by a small Perch. I continued to work and rotated each spot throughout the day picking up fish regularly and mixing my feeding between neat and with my molehill mix.

“Bumping fish”

I “bumped” a few fish throughout the day. This is where the fish has taken the worm but not the hook so when you strike you feel a bump. It definitely wasn’t the hook pulling out. Towards the end of the session I hooked a small perch and just as I was lifting it out of the water a perch around 12oz attacked it. That hasn’t happened to me in thirty five years of fishing.  Pike yes but never a Perch.

I unhooked the fish and hooked the biggest worm I could find through the middle. Then proceeded to move my hookbait around the area at about 18 inches deep, hoping he was still looking for a meal. All of a sudden I saw the line start to move to right and struck into the biggest fish of the day. A lovely fat stripy of three quarters of a pound and a welcome bonus to my day.
I finished the day with 45 Perch and two skimmer bream for around 7lb. A really pleasant day considering the heat.

Lessons learned

As with every session I always try and analyse the day and see what I could have done better. This is the key to becoming a better and more consistent angler.

1. I should have had a second rig made up with a larger hook. When the spot went quite I believe bigger predators moved in.  It may have been a big Perch or a Pike. I could have stuck a lobworm on a 12 hook and had the occasional look.

2. A few smaller redworms may have caught some more silver fish over at 13 meters but it wasn’t a match.

3. I could have fed a fourth spot to my right inside the edge. This would have given each spot just that bit of extra rest.

You may also find my blog on pike on small rivers interesting