Catch Fish with
For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over four years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff so if you are new to fly fishing or spinning these are the ones for you).
07 February 2009.
Plastic eels and perch.
I have one or two angling epals in the southern hemisphere and of course when it's snowing and freezing here they send me tales of sunshine and balmy breezes. Mark Hoffman in New Zealand posted me the following fishing anecdote and pictures this week:-
It's been a while since I last wrote - and not much fishing in between either! But I thought I'd drop a line to say I had a go on my 5 wt fly rod from a wharf recently with one of the plastic eels you sent me a year or so ago. I did hook a small kahawai which dropped off while I was dithering about how to land it with me on the wharf nearly 3m above it. I did hook two more fish in that session: mullet - very small indeed as the photo will testify.
A week or so earlier I took my 14 yo son James and his cousin out in a small tin dinghy at a local lake that has been overrun by perch that were illegally introduced. We caught 17 perch between us trolling plugs or spinners - with myself doing the rowing as no motors are allowed on the lake. As the fish are considered a pest we took all we caught and they provided some fine dinner fare after they were hot smoked. My wife actually prefers perch to trout as their flesh is more mild in flavour, so there's an excuse for a return visit. The green/yellow plug in the pictures was one I got over ten years ago somewhere - and it had never tempted a fish until this trip and it caught the four biggest perch - so it redeemed itself for the long dry spell.
I'm working on a small hybrid kayak-surf ski (polystyrene with fibreglass) which will enable to get onto the water and portable enough to be carried solo to and from the car. The motivation to make one came after the dinghy used for the perching trip was too heavy for me and the two boys to get back up the lake bank. It was an old sailing design that was heavily riveted - so we ran a rope down to it and I dragged it with the car up the grass bank! I hope to have my vessel/craft finished soon and my first target should be the summer snapper in the estuary. I'll keep you posted.
I checked with Mark if it was OK to use his stuff on the website and made a few comments about perch as follows.
Thanks for the pictures and the email. Good to hear from you. It is a small mullet isn't it? It looks like a perfect bait for something.
The perch are obviously keen where you were fishing - how big do they grow? During the war an attempt was made to can and sell perch (perchines) from the English lakes but no one wanted them. Everyone who has tried eating perch says that they are very good - something like plaice or other mild flavoured flatfish, so your local lake is obviously well worth a few visits.
I haven't been out since we got back from the tropics. The weather is awful - snow, ice and cold winds. I'm due to go fishing with my pal Dave Baker for pike & perch on a reservoir on Saturday so I hope it warms up a bit (I'm not really hopeful).
All the best,
Mark responded as follows:-
No problem about using the pictures. Yes it is a very small yellow-eyed mullet - the kahawai were harassing them around the wharf - but it was a huge problem getting the fly into the attack zone quickly enough as the kahawai did 'hit & run' tactics. As for eating perch I've read on a US website about how their yellow perch (almost identical to the european perch) are an important commercial species in the Great Lakes area. I have seen one from the lake that was a good three pounds from a set net that the fisheries people had put in to sample the population. The trout growth rate in the lake halved once the perch numbers took off. The interesting aspect was that some people objected to the trout being in a conservation reserve lake with native smelt and bullies. The trout were strictly controlled by annual stocking (only 500-1000)and had minimal impact on the native species. The perch on the other hand that were dumped in by anonymous enviro-vandals have almost wiped out the native fish and the freshwater crayfish as well. Better the devil you know (and control!) it turns out.
Interesting stuff. I know that perch have always been one of the more popular freshwater food fish but I don't suppose we'll see them on the slabs over here too often. Mark's comments are an excellent example of why it's never a good idea to shift fish about willy nilly whether it's between local ponds or different continents. Even the fisheries experts find it impossible to predict the outcomes of fish transfers with confidence. Often these introductions are unmitigated disasters (Nile perch in rift valley lakes, carp in Canada, trout almost everywhere). In my view, even where introductions apparently succeed (rainbow trout in New Zealand, seatrout in Argentina) the impact on native fish is not worth it. What am I saying? It's too late now in most cases and I guess that, given time and modern transport, introductions are inevitable. No good crying over spilt milk. One thing's for sure it's almost impossible to get introduced fish back out again.