Experienced redfin angler, Trevor Holmes delves into the world of Redfin and explains his techniques in catching them and where to look for them .

With many years of dwindling waterways and tough drought ridden conditions the toughest of all freshwater fish the Redfin Perch, scientifically known as Perca Fluviatilis has proven time and again to be a survivor. Known to frequent channels, lakes, swamps, rivers and streams this tough little fighter is very resilient. First introduced to Australia in the 1860’s as a sport fish they have become widespread in NSW, ACT, VIC,TAS, Sth eastern SA AND the Sth Western parts of WA. Know to grow in length to 60 cm and around 10 kg, more common is the 40-45 cm versions between 1-2 kg.

Cracking 2 kg Toolondo Redfin taken off the surface on a OSP bent minnow.

Cracking 2 kg Toolondo Redfin taken off the surface on a OSP bent minnow.

In the Wimmera we are no different and to date the biomass of Redfin is still rebounding post drought. After recent discussions with local fisheries officers they concede that the numbers aren’t there in local waters where many a day’s fishing for trout or natives were saved by a feed of these delicious perch. Many of the old locals in the depression times survived on Redfin alone as they became the staple diet due to their huge numbers and ease of catching. Although numbers are down the reddies are still the preferred species with the older local anglers with any reports of good numbers bringing out the old methods of bobbing and bottom baiting.

Although they are a predator of many fish they also become the prey too with the larger of the species willing to devour the juveniles. Trout and cod also prey heavily on the young Redfin if food is not prevalent or abundant in the system. Overstocking and breeding can lead to a stunted population and in extreme cases spinal deformities. Much hated by many anglers for their ability to decimate stocked natives or trout they are much sought after in the Wimmera.

Methods most used here are trolling medium to deep diving lures, casting vibes, bait fishing with minnow or gudgeon. With their metabolism slowing in the colder months, Redfin are best targeted I. Spring/summer/autumn. Ideally water temperatures of 12-14 degrees and above are ideal and my personal experience is a barometer usually of 1020 and above. A good sounder is a great advantage defining schools and structure holding them. I’ve found side imaging on a sounder invaluable being able to cover larger areas and mark schools then navigate to them. Many rely heavily on visible habitat and structure without a wonder and in many cases this theory produces fish

Location wise there are many options as Redfin are great survivors but the main lakes throughout the Wimmera are the hardest fished for a feed of these great tasting, tenacious fighters. There are anglers who often stock smaller Redfin into dams for their own sport and these can grow to the maximum sizes providing there is food in the waterway and over stocking and breeding doesn’t occur. It’s important to manage numbers in impoundments to prevent what’s locally known as “Pygmy” Redfin. This occurs when the food source in the waterway is depleted and a breeding cycle takes place, lack of nourishment prevents the juveniles from proper development and they are stunted for life and breed the same species.


A lovely feed of springtime Toolondo Redfin.

A lovely feed of springtime Toolondo Redfin.

TROLLING : This is probably the most productive method and also the prime way to locate schools of fish. Covering ground with a sounder will locate the fish and form there it’s usually a matter of trolling back and forth through the patch. Slow speed matching you lure selection is critical as is the depth of the lure. Most times I work through water of a maximum of 5 metres but mainly 3 metres. Structure and tree lines usually shelter a school of fish and trolling past these can result in multiple hook ups . Trolling will also locate the deeper schools and double your options. Whilst trying for the shallower schooling fish often a deeper sitting school is located. A quick change of lures to the required depth can at times entice these fish up shallower but usually I find fish sitting deep are best targeted with bait/drop shotting/jigs etc . As mentioned earlier I prefer to run a split screen most time on my sounder. Being in side scan mode allows for coverage of bigger areas and more chances of finding schooled up fish. Normal sonar mode is my other split and it help identify the actual fish in the beam below the boat. Another trolling tip is to not stop the boat on hook up, trolling another 10-20 metres as Redfin will chase up the hooked fish looking for whatever it appears to be chasing and often take another lure resulting in multiple hook ups.

BAIT FISHING : A long time favourite of the older generation of Redfin hunters the bait fishing has almost become a thing of the past for the younger anglers with technology taking over and imitating nearly perfectly the baits and scents. Gudgeon and yabbies have for ever been the mainstay of bait used in the bottom bash for Redfin. A simple paternoster style rig dropped to the bottom and slowly lifted and dropped every 20 seconds or so usually initiates a impulse strike form the reddies. Minnow also have been a beat bait but in these dryer times have become very scarce throughout the region. Worms also are prime fare but also become the target of the pesky carp and can decorate your bait supply in no time. Redfin aren’t overly fussy about their feed and being a school fish on most occasions a double hook up is not uncommon not is the chase up by the whole school to the top trying to grab the regurgitated stomach contents of hooked fish.

Soft plastics also account for plenty of reddies.

Soft plastics also account for plenty of reddies.

CASTING : Many anglers spend hours working rivers and streams in search of Redfin and over the years technology has made this easier with the introduction of many different styled lures and imitations such as soft plastics in both fish and grub/worm form. The older generation didn’t have a lot to pick from with Celtas, Dicksons, Hogbacks being the norm back when I was a young fella. Today the variations are amazing and you can pretty much buy a match up to any bait or living critter that would inhabit any waterway. Flashy bladed lures still dominate and always will in my opinion. Working overhanging trees, gravel beds and deeper holes in the warmer months is ideal for getting a good feed. Soft plastics also in minnow/gudgeon forms will eliminate the need for carrying a bucket full of water, running an aerator etc plus provide more fishing time not water collecting the bait. As they love structure the fallen trees usually hold a single fish or can hide away a whole school. Covering a good stretch of river or stream is possible in a short space of time as Redfin most times hit you on a first cast or simply aren’t there so try not to waste too much time on the one location.

JIGGING/BOBBING : My first memories of Redfin fishing were in the great Toolondo 45 years ago at the ripe age of 6 with my dad, uncles and cousins setting out in small boats and cruising the tree lines in search of Redfin. Back then Polaroid sunglasses weren’t abundant and it was a hit or miss operation. In short you pulled up at a tree, dropped over what was known as a Baltic Bobber and dropped it to the bottom and lifted it up a metre or so off the lake bed, trying not to snag up on branches or logs. Schooling fish would see the bobber and within minutes there was a frenzy of action with many fish coming aboard. At times a double hook up occurred with a reddie on each hook. If no action happened it was just a matter of shifting to the next tree and trying again. Very rarely would the Redfin be switched off like seems to happen these days. Ice jigs have become very popular and productive in recent years and virtually replaced the old Baltic bobber. Same type of action required but the advantage of the ice jigs is the ability to be cast as retrieved in a hopping fashion hence covering more ground.


Rocklands Reservoir : Probably the most productive waterway throughout the Wimmera and holds massive numbers of Redfin year round. Located a 10 minute drive from the town of Balmoral it’s a very good spot for trying all of the above methods and a great camping location too. With several other species including trout, bass, cod and carp available it’s a great prospect for a feed.

Stumpjumper number 3 trolled up this beauty in Rocklands Reservoir.

Stumpjumper number 3 trolled up this beauty in Rocklands Reservoir.

Lake Fyans : 15 minutes drive from both Halls Gap and Stawell, Fyans is well and truly on the rebound as a Redfin fishery after suffering huge fishing pressure during the drought. Bank and boating opportunities open up here and a great location for junior anglers to get a shot at the reddies. Also holding brown and rainbow trout its a magnificent location at the foot of the Grampians with a caravan park on the foreshore.

Lake Bellfield : Another lake within a short drive of Halls Gap holding several different species including chinook salmon and trout Bellfield also holds great numbers of Redfin. Restricted to electric motor boats only large schools of Redfin are present here and trolling, bait fishing and jigging work well.

Lake Wartook : 20 mins drive from Halls Gap through the Grampians, Wartook holds good numbers of reddies as well as trout. Trolling diving lures is my preferred method here but the local angling club members do very well with both jigs and bait fish at depths. Fishing the wall is a good area here with varying depths of 3 to 4 metres in easy casting distance.

Lake Toolondo : Located 30 mins drive south west of Horsham Toolondo is widely known as the best trout fishery on mainland Australia but also a great Redfin location. Post drought we haven’t seen the population re-establish as yet but the signs are there of a rejuvitantion. Trolling and casting is the best option here as abundant weed growth around the edges has restricted bank fishing.

Taylor’s Lake : Within 15 minutes drive of Horsham, Talyors produces some nice fish to both boat and bank anglers mainly in the warmer months. Post Xmas is usually the better time as there is water transfers occurring before making the lake turbid and as Redfin usually rely heavily on sight it’s easier as the clarity improves. Holding cod, yellowbelly and silver perch also it’s a great fishery that also doubles as ski/recreational lake.

Green Lake : Only 10 mins drive from Horsham but currently receding in water levels the lake holds a good number of Redfin for both bank and boat anglers. Over the past couple of years there has been good numbers taken slow trolling diving lures or soaking baits such as worms and yabbies. May become un-fishable as summer hits with blue green algae blooms and low levels.

Wimmera River : Many kilometres of the river is accessible both close to Horsham and further afield with out to the west of the town being the better location. Bait fishing in the turbid water is preferred but the pesky carp most times beat the Redfin or Yellas to offerings. As far as the system stretches there is great fishing but around weirs are the prime spots for Redfin. Spinning can produce fish to avoid the carp and a surprise yellowbelly is a bonus catch.

Other Locations : Most waterways throughout the region that hold permanent water will usually have a existing population of naturally occurring Redfin. Whilst sitting patiently with bait is relaxing the best method to find Redfin is by far spinning lures. Reddies find it hard to resist a flashy lure and a few casts in a waterhole or river can on most occasions entice a strike therefore establishing if they are present.

Gear : Light spinning rods and 2000 or 2500 sized reels are sufficient as is either mono or braided lines. Personally I prefer braid for the feel of every little bump or strike. To cover off the jigging/bobbing side of things a similar stick will do the job as well as diversifying for the bait fishing job. Diving lures of various depths are a must to cover all different lakes. Plastics and bladed, spinning lures are also a must. Minnow and gudgeon imitations will see you hooked up in no time.

Another Rocklands trolled beauty taken on Diawa double clutch.

Another Rocklands trolled beauty taken on Diawa double clutch.


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