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Perch puzzles - Part 1

by Jarrod Day on 27 Mar 2013
The author with a nice perch. Jarrod Day
When it comes to fishing for estuary perch in Victoria, the first word that comes to mind is Taboo. It is like fishing for these species should be left to only those in the know. If you caught one, no one should know about it. A secret amongst anglers and an avenue you just don’t want to travel down!

To this day, nothing excites me more than exploring a secluded river or back water in search of estuary perch. To some, this species is the holy grail of estuary fishing and I do agree but I still don’t understand all the secrecy that’s associated with it.

I understand that these fish are slow growing, that when found are in almost their hundreds but at the end of the day, you still have to be a good enough angler to actually find and catch them.


Perchy water
Estuary perch are somewhat a brackish water species, inhabiting coastal rivers, creeks and inlets. They are confined somewhat to the southern most corner of the country from New South Wales to South Australia.

EP’s as they are more commonly known are quite a mysterious species and while some anglers may fluke the odd fish, actually locating them in any numbers can be a difficult task.

The one main characteristic EP’s share is that they are almost always found around some sort of structure. Structure can be in many forms being a bridge pylon, undercut river bank, fallen timber even boat hulls or jetties will hold fish.

While these structures also hold baitfish and estuary perch being the predatory species that they are, they are quite smart when it comes to knowing where to hide in a river system.

They are heavily affected by barometric pressure meaning they can shut down very quickly making fishing very frustrating. You can go from catching one or ten to absolutely nothing if the barometer is dropping.


Rainfall and tidal influence is also a major player on where the fish may be. If the river is tide affected, the fish on the high tide will be tight in the snags or hard up against the bank while on the low they will disperse into the deepest holes or covered weed beds where they can still stalk prey.

Should a down poor occur in the mountains and flood the creeks and rivers, the fish will move towards the creek and river mouths where they can still be on the search for any prey that is washed along with the water current.

Structure a plenty
Although structure comes in all forms, fishing it requires quite a little understanding of where and how it is situated in the river itself. Firstly, to fish a river effectively a boat fitted with an electric motor is a great start. This will allow the angler to situate themselves within casting distance from the snag and hold in position to thoroughly work the area. This will prevent having to tie up to the snag or anchor near it which may spook fish in the area.


A log in a river may be submerged with just a few branches exposed. As the current pushes along, it is funnelled in and around the log where fish maybe holding. Approaching the log effectively should be done quietly in an almost stealth type mode. Casts should be pin pointed with accuracy so to place the lure in the most likely positions where it will sink and pass the submerged log. This technique should be implemented each time a snag is fished whether it be a pylon, tree, log, bank etc: should you foil a cast and become tangled in the timber, it is best if you wait until your fishing partner has peppered the snag thoroughly enough that your confident there are no fish before moving in to retrieve the hung up lure.


Next week we will diving further into the mysterious world of perch and learn about weather delivers, the right lures and the right gear to use, stay tuned…



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