Any rain helps
  |  First Published: November 2003

EVEN THOUGH the rivers are still not in real good shape around here, the recent rain, however piddling, are helping a little.

At present the dams and impoundments are still low and cautious navigation is still necessary. Trolling will still produce the best numbers of fish and will take some beating. I find that many anglers still go too deep when targeting golden perch and choose lures which are too big.

Especially in early Spring, its much more successful to chase the goldens with smaller lures because their aggression levels aren’t quite as high as in late Spring and early Summer. It’s almost as if they don’t want to put on too much fat too quickly, but by the time Summer gets here obesity is the main target for them.

As the water warms, they become more active and need more food to survive. I still maintain that goldens are one of the most underrated sporting species of inland waterways. You make the best of what you have, and with the right lures and gear, as much fun can be had on goldens as on anything else we have.

I use a little 6’, 1kg to 3kg Strudwick SPS rod teamed up with a small Daiwa, Shimano or Penn egg-beater and 4lb Super Braid and about a 5kg leader. If I’m in harder country then I’ll go to 7kg Platypus PreTest leader. Favourite lures for this type of casting and trolling are the Halco 50mm Poltergeist and the Tilsan Bass, and for casting and jigging, the Gold Halco Trembler is a versatile option. When using the Trembler it’s not uncommon to hit a cod and this usually means some interesting moments.

A lot of people use a light baitcaster for all their lure casting but I still find the spin outfit to be the go for small, hard-bodied lures. As soon as I go to spinnerbaits for any species, I’ll use a baitcaster, still in the 1kg to 3kg range and still only about 5’6” to 6’ long. I usually choose about 5kg to 7kg braid with a bass-size Knotted Dog leader.

This upgrading in line and leader is only because of the frequent hook-ups on Murray cod when using spinnerbaits. The best two golden perch spinnerbaits I’ve found are the Bassman 3/8oz Double Colorado and the tandem, with skirts in black with chartreuse tips or purple and brown. These are great starting points but Glen and Sue Casey will make your favourite colours and mail ’em straight to you.

If you are not a fan of stinger hooks on spinnerbaits then you soon will be. Many strikes from goldens are unrewarded without one. The old soft plastic trailer helps a lot, too.


On a different note, I’ve just co-hosted a 16-day Cape York Trip with Duncan’s 4WD Tours and visited and fished some new areas to me. I can’t describe the enjoyment I get from watching someone catch their first tropical species – not just barra, but anything that jumps or pulls a bit harder than fish from their home turf. It truly is a different world up there, watching people’s expressions as they lose line from their reels.

Cape York locals told us that the fishing was a little quiet, mainly due to the lack of wet seasons over the past couple of years. But ‘quiet’ for a Cape resident is pretty bloody good by Southerners’ reckoning.

The 4WD tracks to some of the destinations are challenging for the newcomer to off-road driving but it’s all part of the whole Cape experience. And, let’s face it, to appreciate a 4WD, you’ve gotta use it as a 4WD.

Jetty fishing up there is no place for bream outfits, either, and hooking unstoppable beasties on the Seisia or Weipa jetties on 24kg gear is an unforgettable experience. I lost 350 metres of 18kg nylon under pretty serious drag off the Weipa jetty and after an hour battle I was effortlessly dragged under the jetty and busted off before we could see whatever it was. The areas we visit on these trips vary from relatively easily accessible to much more remote and relatively untouched places.

With Duncan’s trips you have your own vehicle with your own choice of tackle and accessories and even your own boat but are fully catered for meals and the tucker ain’t half-bad. If you want to experience Cape York’s fishing and scenery with the support and security of a group, have a yarn to Bob or Jenny Duncan at Duncan’s 4WD Tours and Training or visit www.duncansoffroad.com.au.

I’ve done heaps of 4WD work yet I learnt lots. With nearly 30 trips to the Cape under his belt, you’re in pretty good hands.

Big golden perch give a fair tussle on lighter gear. This one was caught casting for big bass at night.

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