WITH COD season closed, the window of opportunity opens for us to target alternative species and use different techniques. None of us put the gear away for three months and forget about fishing just because the cod need their quiet time; addicted fishers change their target species and try something different.
Golden perch, silver perch, carp and trout are still available and can be targeted on appropriate tackle. Apart from weekend migrations to the salt now and then, we still hit the impoundments pretty hard to get the most out of the opportunities that arise.
Many people already know how to catch goldens on lures. You can accumulate a lot of fish and have great fun in the process. After we’ve had our fun we change our focus to the long wand and fur and feather.
It’s great to see that natives on fly are finally attracting a growing clan of thrill seekers who are sacrificing fish numbers for challenge and satisfaction. For the impoundments, a 6wt or 7wt does the job for smaller natives and also the dreaded carp. Crazy Charlies, Small Clouser Minnows, Beadhead Woolly Buggers, Shrimp imitations and the like will take natives – you just have to retrieve them slowly with the rod tip down at water level to keep in contact with the fly and secure that hook-up.
If all goes well, the next surprise you’ll get is how much harder fish pull on fly tackle. Long, thin rods give leverage advantages to the fish, as the need for casting is more important than lifting power when it comes to freshwater fly fishing.
This limpish fishing tool can be directly related to the increased fighting ability of any fish on fly. Leader and tippet arrangements need to be around 2.4-3 metres to give the most natural appearance and delve a range of depths.
I use around a metre of 4-7kg Platypus Pretest as a tippet, and the territory being fished gauges which strength is best. If timber and rocks are the main forms of structure, use 6kg or 7kg for added abrasion resistance. Weed beds and steep drop-offs don’t require the same security and the 4kg tippet can be used to great effect. For the shallow stuff I use a Rio Clouser floating line and for the deeper ledges and snags I use a 7’ sink tip. Incidentally, the Clouser also doubles as my favourite carp fishing line.
All flies should be tied on with a perfection loop to give the fly the most natural appearance possible, allowing it to waft and wiggle through the water more seductively.
Sharp hooks are imperative with any fishing but particularly with natives on fly. In a fraction of a second a wary fish can engulf and reject a fly and the last thing you want is a dull hook point that won’t find a hold on the way out. With bulky-bodied flies such as Matukas and Woolly Buggers, the rejection rate is not as bad because the soft body feels more natural in the fish’s mouth.
Lastly, minimum water clarity should be around 0.5m before fly should be focused on.
The same set-up for the silver perch is fine, but the fly arsenal should include bead-head nymphs and other insect imitations. These same flies work very well for carp, too.
Hard-bodied lures and spinnerbaits that work best at this time of the year are designed for slow presentations and should be reasonably small, with two exceptions.
Generally you’ll find more fish at this time of year in the shallower, warmer parts of impoundments, and a great technique is to cast to distinct contour changes around 2-4 metres. Weed beds warm water also, and if you can combine a sloping bank with a healthy, bright green weed bed you’re in with a chance. By next month the males should be hitting testosterone overload and hitting lures like a tonne of bricks, but when the water’s a little cool they’ll be a bit more romantic towards your offering, with gentle takes.
This is about the only time of year I use single-bladed spinnerbaits for natives, and my preferred arrangement is a Bassman 1/2oz single Colorado in brighter colours such as the Firetail and holographic greens mixed with a bit of contrast, such as black with chartreuse tips. I still use a soft plastic trailer but I downsize it a little to be less threatening. As the water warms a little, I’ll move onto double blades.
Hard-bodied divers are still a consistent fish-taking tool and again, slow and steady wins the race. Casting well past structure (something I’ve been writing now for a fair while) allows the lure to descend to an appropriate depth before the finer touches are put into a retrieve, such as twitches and taps of the rod tip. Not all lures are suitable for this approach and all I can do is recommend my favourites. The good old Halco Poltergeist and Tilsan Bass are what I usually fall back on if all else fails in the hard-bodied department.
The other sneaky little tactic I employ is a 35mm sinking Scorpion, fished on 4lb Superbraid or the new 8lb Bionic Braid with a 3-4kg leader. This tactic is a little different and the distance cast past the structure is shortened to around half a metre. Fish are much more aware of foreign objects in their comfort zone than people give them credit for. Anything that contrasts a little with their natural surrounds requires investigation, particularly if it’s small enough to be non-threatening.
As the fish sneak and slide their way up to the offending object, nature controls the next reaction, which is reflex. If a golden is eyeballing your little lure and you twitch the rod tip, reflex reaction kicks in and before the fish realises what has happened it’s got a hold of your lure.
The anglers who trial, tinker and torture themselves in the colder months are generally the ones who absolutely brain them in Summer. Covering water more slowly during the cooler months is a way to hone techniques for periods of increased fish activity.Reads: 1630