How to catch golden perch
Golden perch often turn up when fishing for other species, however you stand a far greater chance with techniques, locations, lures and baits suited to their preferences. Golden perch, or ‘yellas’ as they are affectionately known, are found in a variety of habitats within the Burnanga Trail, but typically school around structure. Target submerged logs, rock walls, or standing timber for the best chance of intersecting active fish. Given this variation of habitats, its often worth altering your technique to suit what is working on the day or season. For instance, springtime yellas are often found closer to the shore, but may still hold among trees at various depths. So a few hours spent fishing for them along the shallower shoreline could be complemented by trying deeper water later in the afternoon if the morning hasn’t been productive.
Golden perch tend to swim together, so the key to success is finding an active school to target. To maximise your chances, troll two or three different lures on separate lines to see what the fish are responding to. Smaller bibbed crankbaits or deep divers, lipless crankbaits, or even soft plastics and small spinnerbaits are great options. Aim for depths ranging from 3 to 10 metres around the shoreline. Anything that moves slowly between midwater and the bottom, and isn't too large, is worth trying for yellas. There’s a fine line between water with good structure and water presenting constant snags, so finding a balance may be crucial to your success and your sanity. Once an active school is located, turn around and troll the area again, or use another technique for something new to trigger a bite from those schooled up fish.
Boat-based lure casters
Goldens are great fun on cast lures, vigorously striking and putting up a fantastic fight when in the mood. From a boat, target yellas by slowly moving along the shoreline and fanning casting towards the bank with the same lures used for trolling.
Alternatively, take up a position amongst structure and drop down vertically to target active schools. Move your lure very slowly from the bottom to the surface, using a sounder or moving every twenty minutes until you locate biting fish. Small black soft plastic grub tails are a deadly lure with this technique!
For shallower sections of rivers and lakes, cast a diving lure either side of standing timber, trying new lures or locations until you find what the fish are responding to.
Bait fishing is a highly effective method for catching golden perch, with earthworms, small yabbies, peeled yabby tails, freshwater shrimp, and even bass yabbies being great bait options. When bait fishing, use rigs that keep the bait relatively still to avoid frequent snags. For best results, employ a size #1 hook and a running sinker or paternoster/dropper rig. Move often and fish the same zones as the lure casters to increase your chances of success.
Walking or wading around lakes with a spin rod is a great method of actively fishing for yellas. This method suits both lure and bait fishers, employing a prospecting style of casting to maximise your chances of finding schooled up fish. This involves firing a series of fanned out casts, moving left or right and repeating the process to cover a length of shoreline. Distance is key here, so favour longer rods and lures that can be cast further into deeper water, then bounced off the bottom when retrieved. A 7-7.5 ft medium actioned rod with a 2500-sized reel, 3kg braided line and 5-6kg leader of monofilament or fluorocarbon of about 6ft will serve you well.
Bait fishers can use this same tackle, just add in a good rod holder to anchor things down. It’s worth noting that although golden perch can be caught right through the day, they are often more active in the early morning and evening, particularly during hot spells.