Besides Bass, one of my favorite fish are definitely our European Perch.
I love fishing softbaits on rigs, scratching over the rocks and all types of cover, waiting for that bite gets me excited!
Here in Switzerland, perch are a common fish in a lot of our lakes so I can fish for it without traveling.
The lakes which are accessible to me here are deep alpine lakes so the perch grow very slowly.
Plus the big fish seem to mostly hang out somewhere in the middle waters, cruising around and feeding on baitfish schools.
This makes targeting the big ones very difficult if not impossible especially if you don't want to reel them in from deep water which they usually wouldn't survive.
There's a period at my home lake when they are said to come close to shore in shallower waters for spawing.
The only time when you kinda can fish for bigger perch here while avoiding the smaller ones which are still a bit deeper until the water gets warmer. But even this got hard in the last years as it appeared that I mostly missed the fish, their bite windows or they might have been absent altogether... Just to give you a perspective, last year I went out about 50-60 times (within 2.5 months) and all I caught was one perch over 40cm which is already a pretty good size for Swiss standards.
So yeah, I wouldn't claim that I'm the best perchfisher there is around here but fishing with such results kinda suck...
The magic mark, the holy grail if you want, for European Perch is the 50cm mark which is a pretty impressive fish and has no problem eating certain softbaits designed for Largemouth Bass, especially craws and shads. To catch one like this in Switzerland is definitely something very special and still on my wish list. But there's lakes in other European countries that seem to hold lots of those fish and there a Perch this size is still considered an awesome fish but way more common than at my home lake.
Over the last years of me scrolling through fishing stuff in the internet, one lake came up again and again regarding big perch.
Located in Spain, this lake isn't even that far away from Switzerland at least if you compare it to the travel I have to go through in order to fish Peacock Bass. So while the Corona virus was still in its beginnings, I decided to finally give that spot a try. None of my fishing friends wanted to join so I was like fck it, I can do it myself. On this lake, besides some fancy sailboats, only kayaks are allowed and there's one outfitter that rents these, so I didn't really need a partner to share a boat/guide with anyways.
I booked the recommended 4 day trip for November 2020 but thanks to Covid we were not allowed to travel even within Europe and in car so my trip got postponed to November 2021. Covid was still around but with a vaccine certificate I was allowed to drive to Spain so I packed my car and drove in about 14 hours to the North of Spain which is a piece of work by itself when you don't have anybody to talk to nor to share the driving with. The sacrifices we make just to catch a fish, I guess...
I was so looking forward to fish bigger lures than the micro stuff back home and hopefully catch some perch way bigger than my biggest swiss perch so far! I arrived in the afternoon before my first official day of fishing there and the operators told me I could fish the lake just behind my accommodation which would hold some good perch too. 10 minutes later I was already at the lake, walking the bank, looking for my first spanish perch. I fished a good stretch without a bite, sometimes I wasn't so sure if I was fishing the right depths which can be tricky to figuere out from shore, especially without any knowledge about the lake. The sun was getting lower and I made my way back to where I started, knowing that I should start the walk uphill through the forest before it got dark as I already didn't know exactly from where I got down to the lake... As I got closer, I spotted a stretch which looked promising to me with a steep looking drop and rocky ground which I assumed would continue underwater so I decided to give part a couple of casts too. On the first cast I already got bit several times and finally hooked a perch. Nothing really big but compared to the ones I'm used to this one was really fat and fought way better than ours. It seemed like I found a good spot as I caught a couple more in this size. Not the monsters I drove here but still a way better start than I expected and an extra motivation booster for the coming days.
Let the big perch hunt begin! I was sooo ready to finally catch one of those big perch I was dreaming for years!
As it was my first day on this lake, first day ever for me fishing from a kayak and also my first try on using an fishfinder on my own I booked one of the locals to join me in hopes of getting an idea for the coming days as well as catching perch of course!
The weather was decent, sunny and not too much wind which made for an easy start. The guide lead me to the first spots while always telling me about the fish he spotted on his fishfinder while I tried to find these on mine too. There seemed to be a lot of fish around but they weren't hungry.. By lunchtime we hadn't caught a single fish yet and the guide told me that it's very unusual for him to not have caught at least one by this time. I already expected the worst for the coming days as I had experienced having not ideal conditions on most of my other fishing trips before... Nonetheless we kept fishing and the guide was then the first to hook up on a nice perch of around 45cm. I was amazed as I'd never seen a perch this big and fat in real life before while the guide just told me that this wasn't even a mentionable size for this lake. The wind picked up over the afternoon so we drove to a spot which was kinda protected and full of trees under water. There finally I got a bite which I've never before experienced while perchfishing and after a entertaining fight I finally netted my first big perch, the reason I came here! I was all hype and even forget to measure the fish but my guide estimated it to be around 47-48cm which was my new personal best by far but still nothing special at this lake - crazy!
After that I missed another bite before we fought our way back to the port and called it a day!
Noike Wobble Shad 4'' for the win!
My first day on my own! Honestly, I felt kinda lost while heading out in the morning. I was shown some spots on a map before I got the kayak and also had a pdf of the lake map with some spots marked which I got from a friend who fished there before but I had no clue where to start nor how to approach the shown spots as some of them consist of a rock or some trees somewhere on a plateau out in the lake. Well I didn't have anything to lose so I started looking for the spots that were closest. I was already struggling to even find those exact spots with my limited fishfinder skills and when I found one, to fish it properly turned out even more difficult. In addition the wind came up quick and blew me away before I could even make one cast at the found spot...
This whole trip turned out to get way more difficult than I imagined and frustration grew within me as I was swearing at the damn wind. The rain didn't help neither and soon I couldn't really feel my hands anymore which didn't really help the situation as you can imagine. While doubting my whole existence once again I paddled across to lake where it seemed a bit less windy and to warm up a bit as I could barely move my hands anymore. Finally on the spot there was still wind but definitely less than on the other side which allowed me to make like 2 casts before I had to readjust my position again. Warmed up from paddling through the waves I made a couple of casts when I got a big hit on the drop of my Noike Smokin Swimmer Swimbait rigged on a jighead. I felt weight and all the excitement was back! Next to me on the surface appeared once again the biggest perch I've seen in real live and I managed to get it in the net! I couldn't really belive the measuring tape when the end of the fish's fin landed on the 50cm mark! - I did it, second day and I caught the fish I came here for - my first +50cm perch! I knew it was a lot of luck involved and I wouldn't say I figured it all out but step by step I started to learn the first things and this fish was of course a huge motivational booster!
I couldn't wait for lunch time to arrive as I was told to meet up at a certain spot on the shore with the other guest and the operator to hand us food, I had to tell somebody of my success! :)
my first +50 perch ever - caught on NOIKE Wobble Shad
After eating, our delivery guy suggest me to fish a spot all the way down which took me about a half hour of paddling. Finally I found the spot but at the same time the wind picked up big time and I found myself trying to not get rolled over by the growing waves while still thinking I should keep casting. A couple of minutes later I realized that this was hope- and senseless so all I could do was paddling back to the wind protected spot which took my over an hour fighting the waves. Since the weather got that rough, the other guest, which was on its own too, and I decided to keep close just in case, to have a chat once in a while plus I thought it would be nice to if I had some help taking pictures in case I would catch another one. :)
After finally reaching some less stormy waters not much happened and we both couldn't find any fish. As it got later in the afternoon, the wind died down a bit and we decided to head towards the port while looking for spots along the way. There was that one spot where I wanted to try since I saw some locals there, spending time in the morning. I didn't see them catch a fish but I assumed it should have potential as they spent quite a while on it. Minutes before we had to definitely head back to the port I got another bite and there it was, perch number two for me of the day! I couldn't believe that I once again had hooked, what seemed to me, a monster perch with 49cm - that's almost a meter of perch in two fish on the same day, my best perch fishing day ever!
49cm on the NOIKE Smokin Dad
It was already raining when I got up the morning and through the day we had a wild weather mix of rain, wind and even sun but the fish didn't seem to like it that much as I didn't get a single bite besides maybe a small pike which got my hopes up only for a second or so. Due to the heavy winds a lot of the spots were basically impossible to fish and I was mostly busy with keeping the kayak from capsizing while getting as much casts out as possible. Definitely got humbled back to reality after my success on the day before!
In the evening I was just happy to feel my feet again after I sunk in the mud during lunch-break and filled up my shoes with water...
It's all about having fun, right?!
Last day of my trip here and the goal was clear - to catch one big perch again!
The wind wasn't too heavy in the morning hours, some rain from time to time but it was ok to fish where I caught a fish on the second day. I figured out how to more or less hold my position against the winds and started fishing some dead wood under water that I found. I could feel my Rig hoping over the structure and out of a sudden there was a different bump, hookset and fish on! It felt pretty strong so I was already celebrating another nice perch but excitement quickly turned into disappointment when a smaller pike appeared on the other end of the line instead a big perch. I gave the woods another shot and a couple of casts later got another bite! This time it was a a perch, with 42cm nothing special for there but still a nice fish by my standards!
Rain changed with the sun fighting to the clouds just to make space for more showers again, the wind kept blowing but I gained some confidence in that spot and kept paddling against waves in order to stay on the spot and what followed was the craziest, most amazing hour of perch fishing I've ever experienced. Again it was wood, wood, wood BAMM - fish on! This time the perch already had 48cm and I was so happy that I drifted a good part down the lake before I started fishing again!
that 42cm felt small after this 48cm one hit the boat!
I paddled back into position and couldn't believe when I got another bite which I missed but it seemed like my new favourite constellation of woods held some fish. Another cast in its direction and another bite followed by a good fight. Finally managed the fish into the net and almost felt a bit bad that I had to ask the other guest already again for a picture but after a quick measuring I just had to get a pic - New PB with 51cm!
more than I dared to dream of - 51cm!
After taking the pics I tried to explain the guy what I was doing as we were fishing very close from each other but he didn't get a bite while I already had several... I made a cast to show him how I was moving my lure and right there got another bite - WTF?! The excitement just grew when measuring the fish as this time the tape showed 52cm - I couldn't believe it! New PB again which was already too good to be true but 51cm and 52cm with two casts?!
52cm PB perch BOOM!
I kept fishing for a bit and got some more bites from which I missed several as my hands were so cold that when I set the hook my rods felt out of my hand because I lost all most of the feeling and power in my hands and just couldn't grab it correctly anymore a couple of times. I don't even want to imagine what else I could have caught there but at least another 47cm perch made it into the net! This all happened within maybe two hours and then I started to get less and less bites so I moved spots and fished until afternoon without any action. At least I managed to heat up my hands a bit and I already caught more fish in the morning than I dreamed of.
47cm perch on NOIKE Donkey Boo - last fish before the bite stopped!
Afternoon came and I decided that I would spend the last hour of the fishing day on the spot in the morning in hopes that the fish returned or/and started eating again. This turned out to be true as I caught another 47 and 48cm perch before heading back to the port and call it day and what a day it was! Definitely a day to remember and the best day of perch fishing for me ever!
rain isn't too bad if you catch fish, especially if its a 47cm perch!
48cm perch to end a fantastic day!
The raw stats, in case you lost the oversight like I did but luckily I noted down the fish during the day: 42/48/51/52/47/47/48
The weather was definitely not comfortable and I was really surprised that I didn't get a huge cold afterwards but thanks to that last day I was all hyped up and eager to learn more about that lake so I hope to be able to return to this place in the following year again!
Stay tuned for more! :)
Thanks for reading!
PEACE & LOVE