Saturday, 19 December 2015

Blenheim Palace – The Monster Perch Search

Friend, Coventrian, Shanghai AC competitor, and fellow automotive jobber Dave Roberts is a specimen angler who has caught many a big fish in the UK and worldwide, the one that immediately springs to mind was the 81lb 5oz Ken Dodd Mirror Carp from Rainbow Lakes in France. The fish’s girth reminded me of the girls that used to frequent Fatty Arbuckles in Stoney Stanton Road back in the day, the cleavage on display provided a short term visual distraction as the weight and size was deceptive and their true weight was well disguised. However from certain angles, if their standards slipped due to K cider and bladderation….

....utterly gargantuan!!!!!!

It was not a place to don the beer goggles…

I’m married and have standards these days so big lake mud sifters I’m not interested in but then out of the blue Dave asked if I would like to join him on a visit to Blenheim where I could share his boat in the quest for one of their reputed monster Perch.

What a stupid question….

Now Blenheim looked a tough old water if Google was to go by and over recent years it has seemed to have got tougher. “Nice Setting though” was used plenty of times in the articles I read as those Tench, Pike and Perch fisherman who often left with the tail between their legs having blanked big style without even a suck maggot vowed never to return.

It was stupidly mild for this time of year too, not ideal Perch weather to be honest, maybe we would pick up one of the Tench that also call the lake their home, we would see by the end of the session. This was a return trip for Dave, the last, many years ago.

The 2000 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped park land has been home for the Dukes of Marlborough (Now the 12th), it was also the birthplace and ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill, the setting really is something else, the pictures don’t do it justice at all. It is only non-royal non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace, and is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As I understand it, one of the biggest houses in England.

The boat house
I hadn’t even considered trying for one of the big Pike that reside there as I prefer fishing for them on rivers but as a big Perch is such an impressive fish and visually hard to beat as a coarse species, they were my target for this trip.

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire Photo: Blenheim Palace

So prior to the trip I conjured up a method of attack….

A red maggot peppered float fished lobworm which would be fished well off the bottom to avoid the crayfish and at a depth the Perch would probably be happy with and as something a little different, a light lure setup with a jig head fitted soft wiggly worm or crayfish. I’ve not tried drop-shotting yet, so jigging would have to do.

So only one other boat on the whole lake

Hmm I wonder if other people know something we don't....

The first swim looked ideal for Perch so whilst Dave set up his rods I baited with some chopped worm and maggots and fish a big lobworm over the top, a lure went in and around the swim.

Now Dave had everything but the kitchen sink as he planned to fish a big bait for Pike and also go for the Perch, if bites were hard to come by he would also fish a float to just try and get a sucked maggot.

Id seen the pictures of the Comorants on Jeff Hatt's blog and they really are something else here, there are literally hundreds of the things, Grebes too.

They haven't a care in the world either so after positioning the boat near a reed bed I'd have expected them to move, but no, they were happy to sit there bold and brass.

A couple of Kingfishers kept us entertained as the fish were not having it, there wasn't any fish topping either.

One of the hot spots seemed to be near the bridge so we dropped the weights near a fallen tree what was submerged for an hour or so and this time we both had dead baits out. It was much shallower here, again for an hour or so not a touch.

We then moved and positioned the boat more or less in the middle of the arch and again, two dead baits our and 2 lure rods.

Again an hour without a touch we moved a little further up the lake in a sheltered bay using the big poles to anchor in the silt.

I swopped to a lobworm over chopped worm and maggot and also used the jig rod. Dave just wanted a fish at this stage so fed maggots and fish a waggler 20 or so yards from the boat whilst positioning a dead bait a similar distance out.

A slug of port and brandy kept us entertained.... again for an hour the fish didn't

We upticks and then went up past the boat house, the  cold head wind and my rowing skills hindering our process. It was slow.

We went past the other boat and same old story, bugger all.

We then decided to drift down in the wind and use bigger lure on both rods, Dave alternated between a spoon a soft bait and a large diving Plug. I went for a spikey shad.

We both fished in the middle and then towards the margin where there were some dying lily pads.

Again biteless and no fish topping, all very weird. The light was now fading and Dave rowed us back and I kept on throwing the lure behind the boat. 

BANG, wow eventually a fish was on !!! 

It felt like a Perch because of the way it fought, but sadly only a tiddler of a 1lb or so.

Another 1/2 hour around the boathouse with deadbaits out, not even a touch. The other boat had returned now and they had lost a double figure Pike but also remained fishless.

The boat house keeper reckoned it had been fishing ok with some nice Pike coming out, "almost everywhere on the lake" but he hadn't heard of any decent Perch being caught despite saying there is a British record in here. Oh and they had been trapping crayfish, literally tons of them apparently.

If we do come again, I think we will wait till it is properly cold and maybe use some smelly sea baits for the Pike.

Blenheim Palace, what a load of Cormorants....!!!


  1. I made my second trip last Autumn. Lovely place but we both blanked. A very tough venue from what I've seen and the huge number of cormorants must play a big part in that. Whatever fish are in there are not easy to find - more so for infrequent visitors.

    1. It's a big water that's for sure so knowledge is king. If I go again I'd give the middle of the lake a go. Maybe even a fish finder

  2. I think the only way to fish the place for perch effectively is on the drift.

    Drift broadside to the wind ( there's little choice in that unless a drogue is towed astern) A rod set on outriggers each end trawl worms at about a foot or so off bottom via a modified drop shot rig with a six inch tail to the hook. Half worms. No longer. Otherwise you'll get plucks but no hooks ups...

    I have it on expert authority that this is what works at Hanningfield Reservoir. A water a good deal larger than Blenheim.

    1. That does seem a method that would likely work. I'll borrow the father in laws electric outboard motor if I go again.

      The lack of fish topping was weird. Even when the light was going only tiny fish started to move around

  3. Never had an urge to fish there Mick and on the back of your trip there along with many other anglers I don't have the urge still, hard luck mate!

    1. I've no desperate urge to go back. Might try different tactics if I do go again though.

  4. I think I recognise Dave Roberts from the Kev Ellis Rainbow vids? I think every report I've read of fishing at Blenheim is similar to yours. But what a stunning place.

    1. Probably, he has been going to Rainbow for years.


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