Despite working next to the River Thames in central London, I have only fished the river once before. Some years ago, hungover on the day after Henley Regatta, I fished with borrowed tackle on a friend’s punt. Trolling and casting in the July sunshine, the fat perch took any spinner offered to them. It was time to try the Thames again…

Hoping for more perch and a first Thames pike, I filled a backpack with a range of lures and made for a stretch of the river in the county of Surrey, a few miles upstream from London. This part of the river is very residential; houses line the banks restricting access to much of the waterfront. I found a less-populated spot on a navigation channel which had been dug to cut out a large meander in the main river.

I tied on a Savage Gear titanium wire trace, and a silver-coloured Mepps Aglia Long Size 3 lure, and made a few casts under a road bridge.

Barges, cruisers and rowing sculls passed by every couple of minutes. The heavy boat traffic on this waterway seriously restricted casting, so after trying a few more places on this channel, I relocated to the main body of the river.

Not all the heavy boat traffic was as photogenic as this.

A chap out walking his dogs enquired how my fishing was going. The river hadn’t fished well lately he said. Romanians were eating all the perch and pike he claimed. Nevertheless, he pointed out a spot for me to try, which I would have otherwise overlooked.

Almost on every cast, something would get stuck on the lure’s treble hooks. Sticks, water plants, tree leaves – even freshwater mussels – were seriously interfering with my spinning. On one cast, I felt a slightly different kind of resistance and was surprised to see a tiny perch dragged along with the lure. This ambitious perch had attacked a lure more than one-third of its own body-length. It was hooked on all three barbs of the treble.

Perch, Perca fluviatilis

A couple more perch were similarly captured; both a little larger than the first.

A slightly larger Perch

To try and avoid the snags, I tried a Rapala jointed shad rap, but this proved to dive too deep and caught even more weed.

I fished the river back the way I had come. One angler came up to ask how I’d got on today. He’d been hoping for pike, but had scaled down his tackle to catch perch, yet still caught nothing. A few other fisherman were also out enjoying this fine autumn day, but I didn’t see anyone else catch anything at all, so I have to be happy with my meagre, but welcome, catch.

I was pleased to have caught one of my target species. I’ve not captured this iconic stripy fish for a few years. A first pike still eludes me.

Total Catch:

  • 3 Perch