Lake Eildon Golden perchLake Eildon has established itself as one of the state's number one golden perch fisheries in recent years. 

This is the result of over 15 years of ongoing stocking of fingerlings (totalling over 1.3 million fish) by Fisheries Victoria. While the fishing varies seasonally the opportunities are still there, particularly now that the lake has been near full capacity over the past few years.

In the spring of 2009 the lure fishing was certainly mind blowing and the impoundment produced first class lure fishing for golden perch up to 9kg on the edges of the lake for both boat and bank anglers.

This trip coincided with an opportunistic time to fish for golden perch, which usually occurs during mid to late spring when the water begins to warm up around the edges of the lake.  At this time the water level was rising, covering grasses and shrubs which not only created excellent habitat, but also provided plenty of food in the form of small fish and invertebrates.

Rising water levels in spring flood new areas

Rising water levels in spring flood new areas

On this trip our strategy was simple, to target the fish with artificial lures cast or trolled from the boat or cast from the bank, concentrating on the newly flooded vegetation on the warming lake margins and along the steep drop-offs and rocky banks.

I arrived on the Friday night of November Melbourne cup weekend and we were in for a hot weekend.  I arrived late and got a few mates to drop me off on the bank at Fraser (on the opposite bank to the camp ground) and the fishing was on!  I only fished the last hour before dark, but every good looking rockwall and snag produced a follow or fish and I managed to land 4 goldens between 1-3.5kg.

A nice golden perch landed from the bank

A nice golden perch landed from the bank

The next morning my good mate and well known native fish angler Marc Ainsworth arrived with his boat in tow around lunch time and we headed across the lake to cover some of the more well known usual haunts down the bottom end of the Delatite arm and we weren’t disappointed.  Fishing clackin raps and suspending x-rap shads we caught plenty of fish along the edges both from the boat and from the shore.  The majority of the fish we caught were in the 1-2kg size class, but there was enough larger fish to 5kg to keep things interesting over the course of the weekend.

A couple of awesome Lake Eildon golden perch

A couple of awesome Lake Eildon golden perch

A boat is ideal for fishing and exploring this vast waterway.  To find the best banks we used a boat to make travel between locations quick. A good technique is to pull up, fish for 20 minutes and if you don't get a fish get back in the boat and move onto another bank. This gave you the opportunity to fish the best banks and maximise your fishing time. We also fished the banks from the boat on many occasions as some of the banks were too steep and dangerous to get out and walk on. An electric motor is mandatory for this style of fishing and allows you to position your boat close to the banks and structure or over a school of fish.

A boat is useful at the lake to cover the vast amount of water and habitat

A boat is useful at the lake to cover the vast amount of water and habitat

When fishing large impoundments like Eildon there are plenty of things you can look for which will help you to find fish both above and below the water.  A sounder is ideal for picking up structure which you cannot see under the water and also congregations of schooling fish both in close on the banks in the spring and further out in the deeper water in the cooler months. Trolling deep diving lures is an ideal way to cover large expanses of water until you find the fish. Once you've found the fish then it's simply a matter of anchoring or drifting and casting lures over the fish.

Boat-casting-at-banks

Once a school was located casting into the banks from the boat was very effective

Above the water you need to look for the steep rocky banks and woody structure. You can find fish at each type of preferred habitat, but if you can find a location with a combination of these two habitats then this is ideal.  Target the rocky points from either a boat or shore then move onto the next one if you can’t find the fish. We found the banks with larger fallen tree trunks held the larger fish, particularly where they had a big fork in them. Some of these fallen trees are up to 40m long, so if the fish aren’t in close on the bank then try further out in the deeper water. The newly flooded shrubs and grasses also provided excellent habitat, mainly for the smaller school fish up to 2kg in size.

Classic golden perch habitat situated on a steep rock wall

Classic golden perch habitat situated on a steep rock wall

Tackle selection was a matter of preference, but it is important your rods have some backbone for pulling fish out of thick timber and that are also light enough to cast around all day.  I persisted with a 3000 sized Daiwa SOL threadline reel and matching 7ft spin rod, while Marc used a low profile Daiwa baitcaster outfit.

I persisted with standard threadline tackle like this Daiwa SOL 3000 spooled with 15 pound braid

Both reels were spooled with 15lb braid and were rigged with a 20lb flourocarbon leader.  I prefer braid for this style of fishing for its sensitivity and while flourocarbon may be more visible in freshwater than saltwater the benefits of its abrasion resistance far outweigh its disadvantages.  Some of the golden perch in this water now exceed 9kg and there’s also a fair few Murray cod to 20kg so don’t skimp too much on the weight of your leader.  The other benefit of heavy leader is that you will usually get most of your lures back!   Despite this don’t forget your “tackleback” as it is a really practical tool you will need to use.

Over the years I used a range of types of lures in a number of situations for natives, but after this season there are two different models I will persist with this season.  Both models come in a 6cm & 8cm size and resemble a small fish which is ideal as research has shown that small fish were found to comprise a large component of the diet of golden perch, with juvenile redfin being a major prey item up to as big as 8cm in size.

The Rapala xrap 06 in perch pattern (above) and clackin rap 06 (below)

The Rapala xrap 06 in perch pattern (above) and clackin rap 06 (below)

Rapala X-Rap Shad

The X-Rap Shad’s are very effective cast from the boat and shore.  They were an excellent lure to cast amoungst the newly flooded shrubs.  They are a deep diving lure which is neutrally buoyant.  An internal rattle is also added for extra attraction.  This model dives down when retrieved and then sits neutral in the strike zone when the retrieve is paused.  This was very effective in drawing strikes and the fish would usually hit them on the pause.  A couple of sharp rips of the rod at the start of the retrieve will make the lure dive to preferred depth.  I had my best success of the redfin perch and yellow perch patterns.

Marc Ainsworth with a nice xrap shad caught golden perch

Marc Ainsworth with a nice xrap shad caught golden perch

Rapala Clackin Rap

Clackin Rap’s are very effective fished on the steep and deeper rocky banks.  They are a bibbless lure, which has an anchor point at the top of the head.  There is also an internal rattle for added fish attraction.  These lures were dynamite on the bigger golden perch cast from the bank and boat in amongst heavy structure.  To fish the lure, we cast it out and let it swim down then gave a few sharp rips with the rod before retrieving it slowly.  This model also responds well to being fished vertically from the boat by lifting the rod sharply and then letting the lure sink back down.  While the 8cm model pulled a few fish, the 6cm model caught most of the larger fish.

A big Lake Eildon golden perch caught on a Rapala clackin rap

A big Lake Eildon golden perch caught on a Rapala clackin rap

Andrew Clark headed up on the Sunday to do some filming for Adventure Bound and we caught some cracking fish.  Check out some of the hot golden perch action on the Clackin Rap lure from the season below:

The full version is available on Adventure Bound Season 7 Episodes 7-12 DVD at www.adventurebound.com.au

Research findings

The behaviour of golden perch in LakeEildon has been the subject of research in recent years to help anglers better target the species and take advantage of the booming fishery.  About 1.3 million golden perch fingerlings have been stocked into this impoundment over the past 15 years and the benefits are now clearly visible. This interesting information provides plenty of ideas about when, where and how to target golden perch in the impoundment.  Some of the key findings of this project have been related to their movement, habitat and diet.

Research can help anglers understand more about the fishery to hopefully increase catch rates

Research can help anglers understand more about the fishery to hopefully increase catch rates

In the warmer months as the lake stratified the fish were found to move in closer to shore in around the lake edges. This usually correlated with rising water temperatures, which occur from September–December. This is the best time for bank anglers to target fish from the shore. Once summer had reached its peak and the water temperature began to drop the fish moved further offshore into deeper water. During the study nearly 60 per cent of golden perch were found within 2m of the bottom or the thermocline. Therefore shore anglers will find benefits fishing near the bottom, while further offshore fishing close to the thermocline is important (usually 12-14m depth). The importance of structure to golden perch habitat was also noted in the study as 90 per cent of golden perch were found within 40m of standing dead timber – 73 per cent were found within 20m! Small fish were found to comprise a large component of the diet of golden perch, with juvenile redfin, some up to 8cm in size, being a major prey item.

Juvenile redfin comprise a significant component of the diet of golden perch

Juvenile redfin comprise a significant component of the diet of golden perch

Local Tackle Stores

Eildon Bait & Tackle

Shop 8 Main St,

Eildon Vic. 3713

(03) 57742348

 

Totally Trout Fishing Centre

Shop 2/42 Downey St,

Alexandra, Vic. 3714.

(03) 577422662

Acommodation

Bush Camping

There is plenty of bush camping in the Lake Eildon National Park and along the shores of Lake Eildon.  All campsite bookings must now be made online through Parks Victoria at

http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au or by phoning the Parks Victoria Information Centre on 13 1963.

It’s a good idea to book ahead as the lake is busy when the fish are biting in late October and early November, particularly with the Melbourne Cup Long weekend in early November.

Boating

Boat launching facilities can be found at Eildon Harbour, Jerusalem Creek, Gough’s Bay, Bonnie Doon & Fraser National Park.  Remember this is a regulated water storage and it’s a good idea to check the lake storage level before you plan your holiday to ensure that you can still launch at your desired destination. We used Fraser as our base on the last trip and that was fine for launching boats up to 5.5m at around 33% capacity. Speed limits apply.  Take care as there is plenty of submerged timber in the lake.

Eildon Parkview Motor Inn

If camping isn’t your thing then centrally located in private natural park surrounds is Eildon Parkview Motor Inn.  The accomodation is within walking distance of the well known Eildon Pondage trout fishery and is only a short drive to Lake Eildon.  We stayed there when we visited Eildon on our last trip and were well looked after.

For more information about facilities, room rates and local activities check out their website at http://www.lakeeildon.com/Parkview

or contact John or Jenny by email  at   parkviewmotorinn@yahoo.com

5 Hillside Ave

Eildon VIC 3713

(03) 5774 2165

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