It always seems to be the Chestnuts that go first, their leaves turning those beautiful ochre hues, and even some of the Oaks are starting to turn, yes Autumn has certainly arrived.
But it's a lovely time of year, and like a lot of anglers I'm starting to target the perch, which as a species seem to be synonymous with this part of the season.
Over the last couple of weeks I've been enjoying a couple of sessions at day ticket water Rib Valley Fishery in Hertfordshire. Fishing on Rib lake, which has carp to nearly 30lbs, pike to over 20lbs, 2lb plus roach, and perch that are rumoured to go to over 4lb?
I wasn't busting a gut to get out at the crack of dawn, not that I really had that option, as I had to many errands to run, in fact both of the outings so far have been down to a few hours each.
On my first trip I decided to make my way round to an obvious feature, the jetty, which runs out about fifty feet into the lake. As perch love any type of structure to hide in this should be a good place to try.
My tactics for the day are simple, I'm going to fish maggot feeders to get the perch sniffing around, and hopefully feeding, then use a lobworm on the hook to attract a bite.
I'm using my 1.25TC barbel rods which will be firm enough to cast out the feeders and with plenty of play in the tips I shouldn't have any hook pulls on the retrieve.
There's nothing complicated on the business end either, I'm using a simple inline feeder set-up. I've tied a couple of fluorocarbon hooklinks with a size 10 Gardner Target Specimen hook on one end and a swivel on the other. Then I thread my mainline through a Korum Grub Feeder and tie it to the other end of the swivel. Sorted.
Accuracy is important as always, as this builds up the bait in a nice tight area, so with a few trial casts towards the jetty I've got my distances worked out, marked my lines so I can clip up before each cast and drop the feeder back on the same spot.
So off we go, and in that first half hour I make half a dozen casts to get some bait out there, then after that I put the rods in the rests and switch on the alarms.
With the idea behind this session being to get the rods out then I could get on and write a few words on the iPad it was with mixed feelings that after 15-20mins I start getting a beep or two on the alarms. And keeping an eye on the bobbins which are now jerking up and down I wonder whether I've got some cray activity as this water does suffer from the little blighters.
So I try to strike a couple of the pulls but feel nothing, and on checking the baits they seem untouched, the other thought is whether the perch are just sucking on the ends of the worms without properly swallowing them?
Only one way to find out and now I'm leaving the lone beeps and waiting for something more positive, and a few minutes later there's a much better bite with the bobbin pulling up tight and the rod tip arcing round.
As I tighten up there's the jag, jag, tug of my quarry on the other end of the line and sure enough it's a perch of about a half to three-quarters of a pound. Looks like I've found who was twitching my bait then!
In the next hour I have a couple more perch of around the same size. After a while it goes quiet and now I'm not even getting the occasional beep, but I keep the maggots going in and have time to get a cup of coffee down my neck.
Time slips by and I've now noticed the dark clouds slowly covering the sky, looks like it's time to get the brolly up, just in case.
With the light levels dropping I suddenly get a cracking run, and with a nice fight I bring in my biggest so far, a perch of around one and half pounds, maybe a little more, as I'm not bothering to weigh them at this size.
It seems the darker skies have started another feeding spell and I get the feeling it's some of the larger fish who are now nosing around, and just to prove this point one of the rods bends round again and I soon have another perch of about the same size sitting all spikey and indignant in my net.
Casting back out again I suddenly realise my time on this session is nearly up, which is really annoying as I'm sure with dusk approaching there would be a good chance of some bigger stripeys. But that's the way it goes, duty calls and all that, but at least I know I'll be back soon.
It's the following week and I'm back at Rib Valley.
I've decided to try a different spot this time, with the margins of one of the islands as my target, both Gary and myself have had 3lb+ perch from these areas in past seasons.
This week the set-ups slightly more conventional as I'm using a small Drennan Blockend feeder above my fluoro hooklink, with the addition of a small rubber bead to protect the knot, the mainline is then tied direct to the swivel on the hooklink.
Most times the hooklink would be relatively short so that your bait would lie amongst the loose maggots coming out of your feeder, but as I'm finding there's a reasonable head of small perch in the lake I'm trying a longer length in the hope that the bigger perch could be hanging back and so might notice my hookbait? It might not work, but I can shorten the link in seconds if needed.
I'm putting one bait in the islands margin and the other off to one side, tight to the overhanging branches of the Willow that's growing on there. Distance again is paramount, and I spend a bit of time getting both rods inch perfect.
A few quick casts get some maggots out there then the rods are in their rests and I'm ready to grab the flask for a coffee.
Well I did get to pour it out, but not to drink it, as one of my alarms is screaming so I grab the rod and I'm now playing a nice fish. It doesn't feel particularly perchy though and when I get it to the reeds in front of me I see a flash of silver as this catch turns out to be a good roach.
It hits 1lb 8ozs on the scales so what a great way to start off the session, the only down side is I cock up the self take and don't realise until after I've returned the fish to its home. So no photo... note to self, must try harder!
The baits popped back out there and over the next couple of hours I have half a dozen more roach but they're mostly in the 10-12oz size. I do have one perch that's around the pound mark so they are there.
Now remember how I talk about casting accuracy on distance, well that obviously doesn't help with direction, as when I recast the Willow rod I chuck a wild one that drops 3 or 4 foot from the tree branches. But the feeder was full and the maggots will have spread out now so I leave it.
And you're going to guess what happens next, as after a quiet half hour the Willow rod is suddenly off and running. That's more like it, feeling those sharp tugs as an angry perch makes it's bid for freedom, not that it does and it's soon in the net, well after leading me a merry dance in the reeds, but it looks a reasonably good size.
This one does go on the scales and makes it over the two pound mark, at 2lb 1oz. I bottle it on the self take and end up with a perch 'selfie' which is ok especially with such a good looking fish, just love those colours!
I think I had one more perch of just over the pound before my time was up, but it does show you what can be achieved in a short session with a little bit of thought.