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In praise of spring
  |  First Published: September 2016



It’s early to be jumping for joy in praise of spring around these parts. Winter’s grip is tight and the uncurling of its fingers takes some time. With the sun’s warming rays, you can watch them slowly unfold – the first signs are like pointers. The more you look, the more you see – green buds on the willow down by the creek, a warbling magpie chasing another on the wing, wood duck pairs landing in trees, all signs that spring is on the way.

Waterways are changing too, larvae and crustaceans under rocks and in holes are beginning to stir. Tell-tale mud lines on underwater clay beds rise out of holes like the smoke from chimneys, weed beds sprout. Colours change from dull boring blacks to fresh and green. It’s a good time to be on the water. Just don’t leave the jacket at home because the calendar says it’s spring.

WINDAMERE

Windamere and spring fit like a glove together. People travel from far and wide to experience the fishing for golden perch at this time of year, and it’s easy to see why. Large golden perch are caught on a regular basis by anglers from all walks of life, using a collaboration of techniques. From the humble hand line and worm off the bank, to an expensive rod reel and lure outfit fished off the deck of a $70,000 bass boat. It matters little to the fish.

Early in spring, golden perch have a definite migration pattern towards shallower water, and towards each other. Two or three large female golden perch will attract the attention of quite a few male fish. Male fish will tend to be a little smaller and will jostle for position around the females, you’ll often see the face scales rubbed off on the hard gill plate covers, used as a kind of shield in battle. I’ve watched them swim beside one another and clash quite violently at times.

With so much aggression and testosterone around, reactions to lures, flies and baits are predictable – even larger offerings can get hammered. Obviously, the aggression and conditions change from day-to-day, and hour-to-hour. Good anglers adapt quickly to these conditions and keep catching fish when others don’t.

The clever use of depth sounders has had the biggest effect on catch rates in Windamere, in recent years. The technology that exists today allows you to actually search for golden perch, or schools and groups of golden perch where aggression levels in the fish can be higher. Straight away, your odds of catching something have skyrocketed.

The fishing tournament scene has also had a huge change in techniques and tackle for golden perch in impoundments. Anglers at the top of the game are always looking for an edge, and that technique adjustment eventually filters down to everybody that chases golden perch in some form or another. New techniques or forms of technology are passed down so much quicker theses days, with the use of social media. It’s not days of old where information could take years to filter through.

For some of us, the hurly burly of technology and a change in techniques to lift catch rates are not why we go fishing. In fact, it could be quite the opposite, but that’s the attraction of fishing. It means so many different things to so many different people.

COD SEASON CLOSED

With the exception of Copeton, a place on everybody’s lips, the cod season will be closed until December. Incidental captures will take place from time to time on small lures. I have heard quite a few being caught on ZX Eco Gear blades in Windamere. Those little twin trailing hooks really put up with some punishment, but treat the cod with respect and return them quickly to the water.

Hope to see you on the water soon. Until then, tight lines.

1

The technology that exists in boats these days is astounding, particularly when it comes to depth sounders. Used right in Windermere, they can cut down on unproductive times.

2

Big smiles, big fish, Windermere in all its glory – that’s what it’s all about.

3

Incidental captures of cod will occur while chasing golden perch on smaller lures during the closed season, treat them with respect, and return them to the water quickly.

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