Bristol Water fishery ranger, Jake Belgium talks us through the in’s and out’s of fly fishing for perch at Chew Valley Reservoir. Jake has caught many perch over the magical 4lb mark on the fly, a brilliant achievement indeed!
As the fly fishing season on Chew Valley progresses into its final few months the one species that I love catching the most start to show up in huge numbers. That is the perch. These wonderful fish are targeted by many a fly angler as they home in on the thousands of roach fry that are key to the healthy ecosystem of Chew.
The location is key when targeting these perch, although you don’t usually need to look too far! Using basic watercraft will certainly help any anglers visiting Chew put more fish in the net. Keep your eyes peeled for any bit of ‘shaky water’, birds feeding or fry leaping out of the water. The main areas for perch on Chew are from Woodford bank all the way down to the rocks of the sailing club but they can also be found a little bit further out in the open water past the trout cages.
The method I use for catching these fish is simple – so many anglers visiting Chew will over complicate things when fly fishing for perch. I use a 10ft 7 weight trout rod matched with a heavy sinking line. I prefer the Airflo Sixth Sense Di 7 as these lines have the hang markers 10 and 20 feet hang markers. This allows you to work out which depth the fish are feeding at, in turn getting you more takes if executed correctly.
I use a strong tippet such as the 15lb Fulling Mill World Class Fluorocarbon, it may sound hefty I know, but there are some surprises in the form of some very large brown trout and pike that can be just as willing as the perch. I tend to use a fluorocarbon rather than a wire trace when fishing for perch as I find a trace can put them off, they are seemingly more confident when using fluorocarbon.
The final component to my setup is the fry pattern. My favoured fly is the Fulling Mill Minkie Suspender. The foam on the head allows you to fish them in a ‘sink and draw’ style on the Di 7 which I honestly thinks make a huge difference in catch rates.
Over the last couple of years I have been fly fishing for perch more exclusively at Chew Valley, spending more time on the water in search of these perfect predators. When fishing in the correct areas where there is an abundance of food, it’s not only perch that hone in on the fry… Quite often you will come across browns, rainbows and pike, especially the larger, more resident fish which switch into the fry to pile on the weight before the winter sets in. I’ve been lucky enough to land some specimen brown trout as well and large perch whilst fishing this exact method.
Hopefully this insight as to how I catch these perch will help anyone visiting the water over the coming weeks to bring a few more big perch to the boat, and who knows, maybe even one of the specimens that Chew Valley is renowned for!
For more information on fishing Chew Valley or any other Bristol Water Fisheries, visit their website HERE.