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High water, new life
  |  First Published: October 2012



It’s refreshing to see high Spring flows continue to shuffle fish numbers along the Murray and adjoining rivers.

What’s equally good is the quality of the water and the possibility that those big cod that remain have a real shot at breeding under what seems to be almost ideal conditions.

All is primed for the river and its native fish numbers to take a big step forward and all we can do is sit back and let nature take its course.

Golden perch are also active in the warm Spring flows and while their numbers are as high as we have seen for many seasons, a little bit of promiscuous behaviour from them won’t go astray, either. Unfortunately the carp also revel in the same breeding conditions.

In the high flows, catching a feed of golden perch is all about location.

Generally when we think golden perch, we tend to pick the holes and deeper eddies around rock bars, clay banks or fallen timber.

While these spots will deliver when the river is at normal height, they tend to go very quiet when the river starts to flood.

Once the water is up, the fish reposition themselves to maximise their feeding potential. Slow-moving pockets of backwater above the normal river level are prime golden perch haunts.

If these spots hold an old stump or log, even better; it will hold fish in good numbers. A pocket or shoulder of water out of the main flow provides easy access for fish to move from deeper sections to feed and scrounge in the shallows.

For me, high-water goldens are the easiest to locate and catch and while the opportunity to do so only comes around every decade or so along the Murray, it’s something not to be missed.

I recently took the young bloke up to Wemen on the Murray for an afternoon session from the bank. Our spot was under the base of two giant gums that, if not for the high water, would have had dry feet.

The main flow of the river some 6m out left a gentle pool of backwater between it and the bank and this is where the fish were.

We cast large balls worms a short distance out, next to a partially drowned stump. Within an hour we had landed five solid golden perch and dropped several more – great fishing.

Digger Smith from the Bridge Caravan Park at Robinvale also reports anglers in front of the park are landing some nice perch on worms. He also thinks that the high flows will mean some good Murray cod will return to the area by the time the season reopens in December. Until then, he says, the golden perch should be excellent.

Allan Hutchins from Got One in Mildura says that there have been notable local catches of golden perch on vibes and small hardbodies worked close to the bank.

Seems the fish are feeding high in the shallows and anglers drowning bait in these same areas are also doing well.

Jim Credlin from JC’s Bait and Tackle at Swan Hill reports good numbers of perch feeding in the shallows in several rivers including the Murray, Wakool and Edward.

In the Kerang Lakes the redfin are on the chew, especially in Lake Boga.

With big flows and a chance for our natives to move and breed, no doubt we will see a whole new system when things settle back down.

All up, the fishing is first class and the chance to strike a little gold is as simple as drowning a few worms in the shallows.

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