Spring is here and that means it’s yella time. The golden perch really start to fire this month, and that’s a great thing as we don’t have many other options to choose from, what with the trout and Murray cod seasons being closed. We really only have the three options: trout in the lakes, golden perch and redfin, which have now spawned and are a bit like the trout at this time of the year – pretty keen to pack on some weight after a laborious spawning season.
The redfin will start to disperse this month and will start creeping out of that deep water and head for the food-rich shallows when they dare. Unfortunately for the redfin, the golden perch are also heading for the shallows – and any small redfin makes a good feed for these guys. This ever-present danger means that although the redfin will venture into the shallows it will be only for a very short time or in areas that aren’t holding too many natives.
For the best results with the redfin I’d stick to the deeper water in the 20-40ft range for your best chances, and target these fish with lipless crankbaits, blades, ice jigs, Mask Vibes or similar soft vibes, or heavily weighted plastics.
Polaroiding golden perch is growing in popularity, and it’s little wonder. There’s nothing like the rush of spotting a fish in the shallows, casting to it, then watching it eat your offering in crystal clear water before going like the clappers as it tries to free itself. You will need long, accurate casts and lots of stealth for your best chances of polaroiding a fish. A slight ripple on the water will help when it comes to not spooking them before you get a cast in.
Golden perch will be best targeted in the shallows around the entire lake, and the backs of any shallow weedy bays are always worth a few chucks. The fish will be roaming looking for females and likely looking spawning areas, so even those open, apparently desolate banks can hold fish. Few anglers will be targeting fish in these areas so the fish there will be less spooky and easier to catch.
This early in the season the fish haven’t been pressured too hard and conventional lures and methods will catch you plenty of fish. However, towards the end of the month and into October and November these fish will have seen hundreds of lures, mostly your typical brands. The fish wise up to the rattle, vibration and flash put off by the lures they’ve been caught on before, and they then become very hard to catch, especially on that same style of lure.
It’s not just the extra fishing pressure that makes these fish smarter either. Additional contributing factors are the increasing number of anglers using lures and the higher prevalence of catch and release. When a fish repeatedly gets caught on a certain kind of lure, it starts to associate that style of lure (or lure colour) with an unpleasant experience and starts avoiding it. If you’re fishing towards the end of a season and on highly pressured waters, try using something the fish haven’t seen before or rarely see, as this will pay dividends in the way of extra fish at times. I will discuss this in more detail in next month’s issue.
For now though the fish won’t have seen that much pressure. They’ll be easier to catch with most conventional lures now then they will be in a couple of months’ time so go get amongst them.
If creeping around the shallows is not your thing you can target the thousands of golden perch that are fixated on spawning up around the wall and the island areas. The fish up here are thick and will completely black out your sounder screen at times, but trying to get these spawning-focussed fish to bite can be an uphill battle. Still, they do feed occasionally and are in super aggressive spawning mode so repeat casts with lures should see you come up solid at some stage. I generally find that late afternoon is the best time for these fish around the wall area, whereas the fish up in the shallows towards the back of the dam can fire all day long, especially on those overcast and/or windy days.
The trout in the lakes at this time of the year are mostly up around the surface, making them a fairly easy target for flat line trolling and fishing from the bank. The browns will have well and truly finished their spawning run by now and will be starting to get back to their normal routines. These fish will still be doing a bit of gorging but there should also be some hungry early rainbows back from their annual spawning attempts which will be super keen to pack on some conditioning again.
The rainbows and a lot of the browns will be patrolling the edges looking for any easy pickings so you won’t need to venture far to find fish if you are bank based. Bait fishing with grubs, worms or dough baits will work well this month, and remember the fish are in close so there is no need to try to cast a country mile. Around 5m off the bank is normally more then enough at this time of the year.
Lure anglers should do well on most lures as the fish aren’t too selective after a laborious spawning run. They simply want to eat anything that comes with in easy chasing range.
Fly anglers should also do well this month. Stripping most large wet flies like Woolly Buggers, Hamills Killers and Mrs Simpsons should see you get in on some action.Reads: 560