Luring lessons hard earned

Marc Ainsworth

Communications Manager – Fisheries

Former Editor Victorian Fishing Monthly magazine

Daiwa Pro Angler

Huge cod
The rewards are worth it, but analyse what you’re doing when you find fish like this.

Casting lures for native fish such as Murray cod and golden perch continues to increase in popularity. It's not the easiest way to catch these natives, but it is very rewarding and there's always the chance of a giant goodoo over the magic metre.

For more than 20 years I've fished for natives hard and learned lots of lessons along the way. No gurus sharing secrets. Just doing the yards. With any luck, a few of those hard earned lessons shared today will save you fishless days on your favourite water and accelerate your learning curve. These are the things I wished someone had told me at 17.

Habitat

dead trees
Imagine another 15ft of water in the lake and you’d barely see this snag, or maybe just tell-tale signs of small diameter roots poking above the water.

Natives love snags. That's not news! But there's a skill to reading them well that really increases catch rates. One trick is to look at a bank that's high and dry to analyse how timber has fallen, its direction of fall, abundance and position. Banks on the windward end of long straights collect more timber than most. Find them and you'll find more snags and more fish. Similarly, small seemingly innocuous little sticks poking above the water can actually be connected to big root balls and thick trunks that provide shelter, security and shade for cod and goldens. Cast at them! Use your lure as an explorer of snags because if you're sitting on top of its saying 'wow', then you're too close and they already know you're there!

Lastly, understand that most lakes are managed waterways. Their level fluctuates over the course of an irrigation season. Snags that were perfect to fish one month, can be high and dry the next. A circuit of snags at Eildon in May can be vastly different to a circuit of snags in December at higher lake levels after spring melt.

Bite windows

Dead tree
Hotel Goodoo. If you play the numbers and target solid timber, you’ll find more cod than most people.

It's taken me longer than it should have to realise that natives are on lots of the snags I fish, but just aren't interested when I happen to be there. Returning at another time, possibly in low light, can make all the difference. So have the patience to stick it out. Keep casting. Have the confidence to know that over a two day trip there will be a bite window. And when they do turn on, make the most of it. Postpone your lunch, limit the downtime. The bite might last for an hour or it might last all afternoon. You just never know!

Slow is golden

Huge cod in the water
Big fish can come at any time. At 103cm, this is my best Eildon cod. It took a liking to fairly small offering; a single bladed ½ oz spinnerbait.

Slowing down your retrieve for golden perch is a key ingredient for more success, more often. Whether it's a lipless crankbait cast into the head of a submerged tree in 70ft or a hard-body cast past a stump in 4ft, consciously slowing down the retrieve can make all the difference.

Lure choices

Golden Perch
Slow retrieves for goldens can be the deal-breaker. Invest in a low ratio reel if you can’t slow down enough yourself.

Spinnerbaits, diving hard-bodies, lipless crankbaits or surface lures. So many options! Choice is now your enemy. It can paralyse you. My advice? Choose a section of water to fish. Choose a lure to suit (you know that stuff already) and stick with it. Avoid the trap of tying on 15 lures in a day and jumping from one strategy to the next. You'll only scratch the surface of any one of them. Some of our most successful days have come from grinding it out with a method and lure we trust, persisting to a bite window, then cashing in on several fish in an hour.

Good luck out there. Tight lines!