|At times the best fishing sessions are the ones that require the least amount of planning. Such a session took place just a few days ago, when my brother and I decided on a quick trip to target the local Golden perch population.
Golden perch, yellowbelly or “goldens” as we like to call them, are quite a challenge at the best of times, with each fish caught during a session more than a little rewarding.
It was a balmy spring evening, when a quick phone call from my brother informed me that he was intending to have a crack at these yellowbelly later at our local lake, just a five minute drive from home. He posed the question of wether or not I was interested, and as always, I was.
I picked him up a short while later, which was around half an hour before dusk, as we have found that yellowbelly tend to be the most active from before dusk, until well into twilight, especially when the barometric pressure is in the order of 1020hpa or more.
Arriving at the lake, we surveyed the scene and discussed what the best options were and where to fish. The first thing noticed was a nice wind lane travelling in a SE to NW direction over one of our favourite spots, a nice little cove, with plenty of deep water and some nice weed beds full of yabbies.
These weed beds cover quite a nice area, encompassing a little hole inside this cove, where the yellowbelly tend to hold up on even the warmest of days. The shallower of the two beds travel in a half circle fashion in water that is little more than a metre deep.
The outer lying bed is several metres away in slightly deeper water, and with a depth of at least one and a half metres, it’s provides the fish with good cover. All in all the total area would be around ten metres, having the appearance of a oblong half eaten doughnut from above, with accurate casts needed in order not to foul lures in weed or spook the fish.
The decision was made to target this lovely area first, with all things being in our favour we were mad not to. Between the two of us, we fish this area on a rotation basis, mainly because this area is so small is size and can’t cope with too much pressure from anglers, ourselves included.
On this particular occasion it was my turn to have the first couple of casts into the area, while my brother fished another weed bed running parallel to the shore line just a few metres further along.
Unpacking my favourite six foot 1-3kg graphite spin-stick, matched to a nice smooth little Shimano reel, I proceeded to rig the rod up using 6lb mainline and a meter or so of 8lb leader.
Attached to the leader was a 1.5 gram leadhead jig, which in this case being so light allowed plenty of what we call “drop time” i.e. a slow sink rate. We have found this to be important when targeting yellowbelly, as they don’t tend to be the quickest fish when chasing their prey, and when sight-casting, they have been known to sit and watch a lure pass right by twenty or thirty times, only to take it on the thirty-first cast, when it misses their nose by only the finest of margins.
There is no bigger rush when finally getting a hook-up on these impressive natives described in the manner above and this is what we would be aiming for tonight.
A two inch Atomic grub was threaded onto the jig-head and swim tested several times before I was finally happy with it and hopefully so were the fish. I then proceeded to cast into the hole, with this first cast landing just off centre towards the back left-hand corner, not at all bad for my first “warm-up” cast. I then started counting down the lure as it made it’s way into the sparkling green depths of the lake, allowing me to know exactly what depth it was at.
At this stage it is very important to stay in contact with the lure, and keep a close eye on the line at it’s entry point into the water, looking for any “plucks” or unusual movements of the line, signifying that a fish may have registered some interest in the lure of choice. The retrieve was the slowest allowable under such conditions, employing a simple “lift, pause, drop and retrieve” technique.
This first cast received no attention what so ever, which didn’t cause too much concern, as this is what usually happens. I continued to pepper the area with casts and some 12 or 13 casts later I thought I saw a slight “pluck” on my line as it was just nearing the edge of the shallow weed bed.
I mentioned this to my brother and he just commented on the fact that it’s probably my plastic hitting the weed, again. Carefully I reminded him to the fact that he was yet to land a fish, let alone receive any interest in his offering. This just left him muttering something about you do your thing and I’ll do mine.
The next cast was laid out in such a fashion as to land in the back right-hand corner of the hole again, with it following almost the same retrieve line as the previous cast. As outlined earlier this is a very import facet of targeting yellowbelly. Plenty of casts in the same area, all close to one another are a must to encourage a strike.
Proceeding to commence my retrieve, I felt a slight tensioning of my line, and proceeded to lift the rod setting the hook into what felt like a very solid fish.
A lightly set drag started to scream in protest as the fish attempted to make it’s get-away into the depths of the nearest weed bed, in an attempt to bust me off or at the very least snag me up. After a series of solid head shakes and some short but powerful runs, the yellowbelly was slowly worked towards the surface, where it rolled onto it’s flank, exposing deep gold that glowed rich in the fading sun, exactly what these wonderful fish are famous for.
Continuing to work the fish towards the grassy bank, it decided to have one more small but fading run to freedom, and with me letting it have it’s head the fish had now tired completely, allowing me to maintain my effort on landing such a fine specimum. Comfort lifting the fish from the water, while my brother grabbed the tape measure, I couldn’t help but notice the condition of the fish in my hands. It must have had the thickest set of shoulders for a fish of its size that I had seen for quite a while.
With my brother finally measuring the fish, and although not a record breaker by any sense of the imagination, at 46cm it was still more than a respectable capture on such light gear.
Gently lowering the fish back into the water, and having one last admiring glance at those flanks, the fish looked up at me with it’s left eye, before almost half winking, then proceeding to cover me in water, splashed up as it powered off into the depths, moving the fastest it had ever had and probably ever will, causing me to lightly chuckle to myself as I wiped my face dry.
With our standard congratulant handshake between us over, followed by me exclaiming that weed can really put up a fight, if you let it (I told you it was a golden), it was back into the fish before it got too dark and the mozzies took over.
In the end we continued to fish for a further 20 odd minutes before it did get too dark, and those mozzies did take over (like air-bourn piranha I might add), with my brother landing two Redfin a shade over 25cm, completing the evening nicely.
With us both more than happy with the nights proceeding’s it was off to our respective homes to relay our tales to both our families. With it not being an “electric” session by any means, accounting for only three fish between the two of us, sometimes it's not about how many fish you catch, but how you go about it, and more importantly, whom you share it with.