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Redfin Perch

Redfin Perch
Perca fluviatilus

A pest they may be, but the Redfin Perch is a very attractive fish.


Well, it seems with the old Redfin you either love em or hate em. There is no doubt that they are pests and they can overpopulate areas with large numbers of stunted fish eating everything in the process.

They are, however, probably the easiest freshwater fish to catch because they hit lures with gusto, are heaps of fun, they grow fast and they taste great as well. The surroundings they live in make for some very serene fishing and the Redfin is also a pretty looking fish with striking colours and a big “sailfish” looking dorsal fin.
Sometimes catching something is better than catching nothing at all. Sure, they dont fight like Barra but the big ones go all right. So we reckon they arent all that bad. To make it more fun you need only ever use a very small 5ft flickie with 2kg line. Dont worry, they wont bust you off.

Scientific Information

Possibly the reason they tend to over populate some areas is due to their ability to survive in harsh habitats. They are a hardy fish and mostly they share the same water as trout but they will survive in waters where trout wont.

In fact, Redfin can stay alive out of the water for up to 4 hours in a hessian sack. That may be because they rarely move about when they come out of the water and tend to be able to conserve their energy.

So where did all these Redfin come from? Redfin arent native to Australia and were first introduced from England in 1862-1868. Just 7 fish were delivered to the Ballarat Hatchery in Victoria and used as brood stock. They made their way to WA in 1892 by Sergeant FA Hare of York.
The initial release points were Lake Powell near Albany, the Helena River in Guildford and Lake Monger in Perth. Just a few years later they were introduced to the Capel, Preston and Blackwood rivers. By 1910, catches of fish around 3 kilos were being recorded showing just how quick they can grow.

Since then they have found their way, mostly by people relocating them, into 99% of the freshwater catchment dams and rivers in the south west of WA. They are such a pest that you arent even allowed to return any caught fish into the water!

How To Catch Them

In our experience, the fish taken out of rivers tend to be a better size on average and the usual size that you see would be about 500-600gm with fish over a kilo caught almost every trip. Maybe the dams get hammered more than the rivers and thus the smaller fish. Having said that, 2 kilo fish are caught in dams and in rivers alike.

Bait and fly work well but with lures you can cover more water and you will take more fish. In large dams Redfin seem to stunt more and also school up. This is when bait is probably the most effective method. If a school is located, a big bunch of earthworms fished under a bubble float or just drifted slowly down works well.

Worms, bardi grubs, crickets and mudeyes would top the list for baits. You cant beat the old earthworm as they are so easy to get. Another method that works well with schools of Redfin is jigging an old crappie jig or a spinning blade up and down through the school. Yellow crappie jigs seem to work the best in freshwater. This method sometimes can result in just about the whole school being caught. Crappies are hard to use in rivers jigs so you may only be able to use them in dams.

Okay, now to the lures. Redfin have been caught on almost every imaginable lure around. They hit lures hard and will, when hungry, take 99% of all small lures. However, some will work better than others and not all lures are suitable for river fishing. You are fishing in very snaggy country so other things must be considered, such as price, as you will lose a few to snags. Action, also, must be considered.

The lure on top of the list is spinning blades such as the Mepps or Celta range. These are great because you can control the depth. This is important, as the rivers they live in are just full of hidden snags. With a blade you can speed up to get over snags or let them spin in the current without much effort.

You don’t have to be right on the bottom to catch them but you do need to be in a bit of water. Any patterned blade will work but the gold coloured ones are very good. Size doesnt really matter (heard that before) as Redfin are pigs and will scoff down anything. We’ve seen pictures of Redfin that have hit lures that are half the size of themselves! Most spinning blades cost about $6 for two so you can lose a few without it hitting your hip pocket too hard.

The other advantage of Celtas or Mepps is they will catch Trout if they are around. I dont know what it is about Celtas but Reddies and Trout just love Ëem. On top of the lure list are Stump Jumpers, Knolls Native lures & Rapalas.

Stump Jumpers swim very upright with a real tail wiggle. This means once you get the hang of them they can be “walked” through the snags. The bib is down and you can feel them bump the snags and slow your retrieve a bit. Once you get them sussed out you will hardly ever hang one up on a snag. The best colour is the red belly with black striped back Stump Jumper (see pic) as this resembles a small Redfin – which they love to eat.

If the water is murky, go for bright colours like the gold and red striped Stump Jumper or a chartreuse type pattern. In the Knolls Native range they have a smaller skinny body lure (number 13 on the catalogue) that resembles a small Brown Trout but it is painted in brighter colours. This lure works very well for Redfin as it has a great action and looks the part.

Basically, think noisy action and bright colours. Anything that looks like a small marron, Redfin or baby Trout, like some of the Rapala range will work well. Rapala have some small redfin patterns. Dont forget to pack a Tackle Back with you to get back those expensive lures.

All of the main dams such as Waroona and Harvey hold good populations of Reddies. Waroona Dam and the Murray River region would be the closest to Perth. Perhaps the best of all rivers is the Warren near Pemberton and we’ve prepared some great tips for fishing this awesome stretch of water.

Firstly you need to get yourself a canoe or some other small floating device that will allow you to silently drift down the middle of a river casting to snags. We favour a canoe, and these can be hired from several places for a small weekend fee, or better still search the second-hand market for one of your own. It does not have to be brand new and shiny, as the hammering it will get as you drag it over rocks and logs will soon see it looking very used.

Next you need an adventurous mate who is prepared to follow you into the wilderness armed with a paddle and light spin rod. Avoid people who whinge about the heat, flies or sore arms from paddling a few kilometres down river.

Sure you can try and walk the banks casting as you go, but the thick scrub, nasty tiger snakes and snagged lures that just can’t be reached should convince you that being in the water is the lesser of two evils.

Numbers will vary from year to year but by searching around you will soon learn what sections of the river produce the best fishing. It brings out the adventurous spirit that drives you to see what is around the next bend in the river.
You might paddle for several hundred metres casting lures in and around every snag with little or no sight of a fish, only to have a dozen monster reddies holding up in the next pool.

It is the norm to hook one fish and have numerous other fish follow up the hooked one practically right to the rod tip. All the other person has to do is drop a lure in front of these stirred up reddies, give it a twitch or two and then hold on!

The best redfin spots in the Warren are the long stretches of deep pools that can be found pretty close to Pemberton. We usually just park the car near one of the bridges that cross the river and launch from there.
It pays to travel light as you don’t want your mates 50kg Plano tackle box in the canoe with you. Take a good supply of small minnow lures like the RMG Scorpions, Rapalas, Manns or one of the many Australian made lures like Knols, Min Min, Attack or Oar Gee. These can be easily fitted into a small tackle box to keep them from tangling up.

Fill another small tackle box with a good selection of soft plastic jigs, as these come into their own by jigging them around the deeper tree snags. On the note of snags, be prepared to lose a few lures to them and carry a Tackleback lure retriever to hopefully save 8 out of 10 snagged lures.
Leave the fly rod at home, otherwise you will spend more time trying to get your fly out of the bank side vegetation or preventing the canoe from tipping as you false cast from such an unstable vessel.

Take two spin rods around the 5-6 foot mark, one to fish with and the other as a spare just in case you canoe several kilometres downstream and break your only rod. A good two piece rod can be broken down and kept out of the way unless needed whilst yo fish with the other. Or better still you can leave a minnow lure on one and a jig on the other to save time and effort when searching for fish.

We have found that redfin can be as fussy as the smartest black bream on some days, taking a liking for a particular colour or lure style depending on the conditions. Keep on changing lure colours, styles and depths until you start to get results. Fish smarter not harder, so try to use a different lure to your mate until you work out just what the fish are interested in.

Other good rivers worth a mention are the Collie and, in particular, the Capel. Head from Perth towards Busselton. Not long after you go through Bunbury, you will cross the Capel River. Go up the road about 500m where there is a turnoff, do a U turn and head back towards the bridge, you are now heading north.

Slow down as you reach the far side thats right at the end of the bridge and pull off to the left. You will see a track going down to the river. Its a bit steep but you should get down OK. If not, just park at the top.

The area of river downstream from here is full of good sized Redfin and schools of good sized mullet. This area is fished best in autumn and spring when the water is high but not too high. Generally in summer the water level is too low and you have to walk a fair distance to get to good water. The water level will depend on where the fish are and how far you have to walk.

If it’s flowing hard and fast, walk upstream. In the bigger rivers, like the Warren, summer is the best time for them but you will catch Redfin all year round. Sunrise and sunset are the best times but they can be caught all day. you can see them feeding on dams early in the morning with their dorsal fins sticking out of the water.

A good pair of polarising sunglasses such as Maui Jim is a must, as being able to see into the water can make the difference between success and failure with this type of fishing. Seeing a big tree snag deep down in the water depths will allow you the chance to fish it instead of just drifting past without ever knowing it was there.

It is also very common to have redfin follow lures up to the canoe without hitting them, and by spotting them first you have the chance to vary the retrieve and keep the lure in the water to entice a strike. There is nothing more annoying than lifting the lure from the water to have another cast, only to have a big redfin swirl under it and miss the hooks.

A landing net is a bit of a hassle but will ultimately see more fish actually landed, as trying to grab a hooked redfin from a rocking canoe can be a real test. Many fish are lost especially if you lift them from the water by the line, causing the weight of the fish to tear the hooks free. There is even the chance of netting a free swimming redfin that is following closely to the hooked fish!

One final point; as much as we like reddies, if you do catch one do not return it to the water regardless of size. Even if you dont plan to keep them leave them on the bank for the local Nannup Tigers to clean up. When you purchase your freshwater fishing license (required to fish) it will tell you this anyway. They are pests and most trout fry dont reach legal size due to the Redfin than any other single cause. They also eat a lot of baby Marron and they breed and grow quick enough to replace stock so dont worry, they wont die out.

They cook up easily and really are a great tasting fish so, if you get some, take Ëem home and enjoy a nice meal. What are you waiting for? Get out there and have a crack at the old Redfin because you will find them heaps of fun. Dont be fooled, the big ones are still very hard work. Put in the hours and you will be rewarded.

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