Fisher stalks cannibal

A dark shape materialized out of the gloom and morphed into the shape of a fish, fins extended and ready to pounce; much like a cat with its eyes wide open. Plop, something had landed nearby; in an instant the prey had been engulfed and soon the fish’s excitement had turned to confusion.

This scenario had played out in my head many times over before I had headed up to Hawkes Bay’s only redfin perch lake. Arrival at the new body of water came with huge anticipation for what might unfold on this beautiful late autumn day.

I cast a small perchcoloured soft-bait around the weed margins, hoping to lure out an adult perch who was keen to cannibalize one of its own. This may sound unusual, but not for perch populations. Typically, a small group of large fish rule over the juveniles, feeding ravenously after each spawning season. These poor fish hide in the shallows, hoping to scrape by until they are large enough to avoid predation by the adults.

It was a tough day but I remained optimistic. I covered the water for a few hours and eventually stumbled upon a crystal clear flat, with a steep bank running along its edge.

This was ideal sight fishing terrain. Quickly, I scaled onto the platform and realized how good the vision was.

Out of the corner of my eye; movement. As my vision adjusted under the shade of the willow trees, a familiar spiky, striped fish lazily swam into view. Not wasting any time, I threw out my small paddle tail, off into the distance.

I wanted to bring this prey in nice and naturally. As my retrieve neared the perch, perfection. The fish shot off straight at the lure and crushed it—my heart in my mouth at this stage.

I scrambled down the bonified cliff, while keeping the pressure on and the fish easily slid into the net, after a short protest. Not only did I get a stunning bite from this fish, but it was big and coloured up. Its blazing red pelvic and anal fins shot out a burst of colour as I held it up for the camera.

The confused perch was carefully returned to the water, where it quickly headed for cover. Pressure off, the rest of the day could now be enjoyed without fear of going home empty handed. The perch came out in droves throughout the afternoon, with the bite peaking just as the sun began to set. I had well and truly worked out where they were sitting at this point, most cruising the ankle deep water, shoving their heads into the reeds, hoping to find a quick snack.

Rounding the final corner before the carpark, I had an hour of bliss. Big perch after perch was landed, including an amazing double of two fish in as many casts. I was more than satisfied with my efforts—it turns out that Friday the 13th was luckier than I thought.

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