Golden Perch, Callop or Yellowbelly, whatever you want to call these oversized footballs, are a freshwater trophy best targeted during spring. The spring months mark the cod season closure coinciding with this top time to target these fish. Many freshwater anglers will pack away the cod gear until December and downsize there lures to target the plump impoundment Yellowbelly. As the water temp rises, these beautiful spring days can account for some unforgettable sessions. Concentrating my past Springs chasing these fish, I’ve found a few techniques that have been more productive then others, focusing on the following main aspects:
Targeting a particular structure will see you land more fish. When scouting an impoundment, the key Yellowbelly holding structure to look for is weed, wood or rock. Each structure generally requires a different approach for a positive result.
Fishing timber is a new method adopted by many the last few seasons. The best way to fish these trees is with a soft plastic on a jig head between ¼ and ½ ounce depending on the depth. A quality sounder will help identify these suspended fish hanging from the submerged limbs, then it is as simple as tying your boat off to an above water limb, dropping your plastic to the bottom and slowly winding it straight back up. Fully submerged trees can be found on your electronics, these can be fished by hovering over the top with an electric motor and dropping your plastic down. Grub style soft plastics that have a good amount of tail action on a slow wind seem to be the most affective, though creature/craw style plastics do work well.
Rock walls are a structure that are effectively fished with lipless crankbaits. May they be soft, silent or rattling, each has their place on any given day. Slowly hopping your crankbait down the rock face, always keeping contact with the bottom, will find those holding fish. A general rule is if the fish are active then a rattle works well, while if the fish are shutdown or timid a soft or silent vibe approach will work better.
My personal favourite way of targeting these pots of gold is on points or weed beds. Slow tapered points will almost always hold fish as do weed. Finding an area that holds both these structures is a ‘gold mine’ especially in the 3-6 metre range. Blades have been a revelation lately in Yellowbelly fishing and these are dynamite in this situation. Slowly hopping a blade along the weed edge will eventually result in fish on! The key is to fish them slow, often pausing your blade on the bottom for up to 20 seconds at a time. Most of the time they will slurp the blade in will it is ‘deadsticking’ on the bottom, you will go to hop your blade and feel weight. That’s why it is important to watch your line at all times just like fishing a soft plastic, any tick in the line requires attention. In low light periods these fish will often push right up onto the bank in shallow water, often the weed is thick here so a blade can be a little tricky. A suspended minnow or jerkbait approach is a great way to target these fish, slowly twitching these minnows and letting the lure sit in their face is an effective tactic.
Light is my approach when selecting line, rod and reel. I like to use the same gear I target bream with in the salt. 2000 size reels and 1-4kg rods like the Daiwa Gen Black Drunkenmonkey or Itchy Twitchy, great options. The reason behind such a light rod for fish that can often exceed 5kg is the reduction of pulled hooks. I’ve found fishing with a heavier, stiffer rod will often pull the hooks, especially when fishing blades and lures with small, fine gauge hooks. An easy to see braid is useful, the Daiwa Jbraid chartreuse colour in 6lb is my personal selection. Leader is a tough one, if fishing weed or rock walls I find going down to 6lb will get a lot more fish interested, however when fishing timber, it pays to stay at around 10lb.
There are so many lure options these days, the ones I’ve found to be most successful targeting the areas described are;
Blade – Ecogear zx40
Lipless crankbait (soft) – Jackall mask vibe
Lipless crankbait (rattle) – Daiwa woofer type R
Soft plastic – Any grub tail plastic
Jerkbait – Daiwa tournament spike 53SP
All these lures in Black. For some reason these Golden’s love Black significantly more than any other colour.
If you get the chance to fish the freshwater in spring, Yellowbelly should be your number one target. They are an awesome fish to chase and spring provides the best weather to not only target them but to just be out on the water in general with your mates and family. Enjoy!
Short clip from a recent trip showing how beautiful the environment and fish are – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAngrWK5Qx4