Yellowbelly, Golden Perch or in some areas, Callop are a popular Aussie native species, these brutish fish hit hard and fight harder. It’s well advised to keep a tight grip on your rod when fishing for these hefty fish! So pack your baitcaster and a few spinnerbaits as we visit the ins and outs of fishing for yellowbelly from a landbased location.
As with all species of fish, the search for golden perch begins with location. Yellowbelly hold tight to snags and in shelter, I have a pet yellowbelly and I virtually never see him outside of his snag! These fish are incredibly lazy and will not often give chase, if the water is warm and the fish are hunting you’ll probably get some follows, but if you saw how many yellowbelly gave up following your lure you’d be kicking yourself! The trick with this fish is to bring the food to them, this can be in the form of drifting a scrub worm past a tree branch, or popping a spinnerbait smack bang into your favourite snag.
When looking for yellowbelly, look for heavy structure with dense foundations, this can be in the form of a fallen log, a collection of rocks or a submerged structure.
Now that we know where to look, it’s time to look at when to look. Golden perch feed year round, but they become very lethargic and lazy once the water cools right down, you can expect the frantic aggressive to begin again in spring, but you’ll have to focus on shallower, warmer water. As Summer rolls in and the overall water temperature has risen, you will have more success. Daylight ours are a great time to target this species, the warm and high visibility is reassuring to them and allows them to hunt comfortably, sunset can also be a really productive time to fish.
Lure fishing for yellowbely is an exciting prospect, there’s not too many fish that hit like you’ve snagged a log and pull like you’ve hooked a pit bull. The bite is sudden, fierce and intense, it also most often occurs right next to heavy structure, so I hope you’ve packed a reel with some serious drag!
When fishing in rivers and smaller lakes with bankside snags, the fish are likely to be holding in close to the bank. We don’t need an exceptionally long cast, but we absolutely need a high level of accuracy and some heavyweight drag to get the fish out of snags as soon as possible. All these things point to a baitcaster oufit, short to medium casting with exceptional accuracy and heavy drag. When fishing in these scenarios, especially when the fish are larger in average size, take a look at the Quantum Inshore 621BC, this 6’2 rod will handle any sized yellowbelly the river can throw at you, as well as any cod too! I recommend a Quantum Smoke S3 Baitcaster Reel to match, trust me, you’ll need the 25lb drag system, especially if there are cod around. Spool it up with 20lb braid and 20lb Black Magic Fluorocarbon leader and you’re good to go!
If, however, you’re fishing in a lake where the average fish is, say 50cm or smaller, a spinning combo may be preferred, you’ll have a great fight on a light spinning rod and you’ll be able to fish those finicky lures if the bite is slow. Just be careful though, if you’re fishing in heavy structure and you hook a big perch, you won’t have much stopping power! Try the Quantum Smoke Inshore 702SPL 2-4kg, you may need to upgrade to the 701SPLM 3-6kg if you’re fishing in heavy structure though. 8lb mainline will be more than enough to do the job, with 8-10lb leader. If there is little to no structure definitely go for the 2-4kg rod and as light as 6lb leader for a good fight!
Lure selection is important here, I personally recommend noisy, bright and annoying lures, golden perch may not be a constantly feeding fish but they certainly don’t like trespassers! Spinnerbaits are a classic lure that you can chuck right into a heavy snag with very low risk of losing the lure. In open water, especially clearer water, I recommend something a little more finesse, try a small paddle tail plastic, suspending bibbed lure, or trusty vibe/rattler. Lures with noise and flash such as spinnerbaits and rattlers are particularly deadly on these fish.
Sit and Wait with Bait!
If you’re on a family holiday, just trying to relax, or aren’t interested in the hassle of lure fishing, then good news! Yellowbelly are an easy fish to target with bait. Running sinker rigs and float rigs are both recommended, if the water is particularly deep, try a running sinker rig to get your bait right down to the snag. Float fishing can be a little more involved, especially if the water is flowing or it’s a windy day, you’ll want to float your bait around snags and may need to adjust the depth often to fish different snags or different parts of a single larger snag. You can also cast a float to the opposite bank and let the current drift it past a few snags, you’ll have to keep recasting though! Try fishing a bundle of worms on a 1/0 suicide hook, or a single big, juicy scrub worm! Bigger fish also love live yabbies. For a truly deadly combination, try a cocktail of a worm and a peeled yabby tail. Yellowbelly rigs should be tied with 10 – 20lb fluorocarbon depending on the structure, bait and average fish size.
Whether you’re fishing with bait or lure, yellowbelly can be an extremely rewarding species to target. Their sudden slamming of lures and intense strength are addictive and will leave you hanging on for the next bite!