Top Tactics For Golden Perch

Golden perch, Macquaria ambigua, are one of Australia’s most popular freshwater fish. They are found throughout the Murray/Darling River basin, including all of its tributaries and backwaters. They also inhabit rivers and lakes throughout eastern Australia.
A well conditioned yellow belly caught from around the timbers.

A well conditioned yellow belly caught from around the timbers.

A Slow-Growing Species

They are a relatively slow growing, long lived fish (25 years+) that is commonly found in sizes from 30 – 45 cm and 1-2kg. Lake specimens get much bigger however, with some lakes producing regular fish over five kilograms. Interestingly, it is understood that most native south eastern fish, such as Golden Perch, are long lived so that they spawn during at least one major flood event, which normally coincide with wet La Nina years, which may only be once every ten or twenty years.

Hot Spots To Look For

  Habitat In both rivers and lakes goldens are usually found around hot spots, areas of perfect habitat. These hot spots consist of items such as; fallen timber, rock bars, sand bars and weed beds. Whether you are fishing from the boat or off of the bank, it is favourable to have at least one of the mentioned pieces of structure nearby. Structure, such as timber and rock bars, give the goldens somewhere to retreat to in case of a threat or hide out of the current and wait for an easy meal to pass. Weed beds provide a big food source in the form of shrimp which are a favourite for the fish.

Rock bars always hold numbers of goldens.


Cruising The Golden Highway

  There are times when goldens will cruise in to open water but these movements usually coincide with times of low light and little noise. Sand bars are a classic example and are perfect for an early morning or after dark assault. With that in mind, if I am fishing for goldens during the light of day, I will stick close to some form of structure and during low light periods I will search out the more open stretches.

Lures Fishing for goldens with lures would easily be my preferred method.


This snag has ‘goldens’ written all over it.

Selecting The Perfect Lure For Goldens

Spinnerbaits, hard bodies, vibes, blades and plastics all have their place in the tackle box. Knowing when and where to use them really comes down to time spent on the water but I have a few general rules for each. Spinnerbaits are a fantastic casting lure with excellent accuracy, great for casting at things such as timber, rock and weed beds. Fishing from the bottom up is a great way to cover all the water column and I normally allow the spinnerbait to sink to the bottom before I start my retrieve.

Pay Attention

  This is easily indicated by watching the line and waiting it for it to go slack. Spinnerbaits are my go to lure if I am working from the shore as they are very snag resistant. Even if they do get hung up on something they are usually quite easy to flick free. Both willow and Colorado blade spinnerbaits work on goldens. Hardbodies are a very effective casting lure and also bring the goods on the troll. They are simple and easy to use. Most have good buoyancy and make riding over timber or other structure a breeze.

Getting Down Deeper

  Hardbodies can be used anywhere whether you are fishing a river or a lake. Goldens will eagerly smash most sizes of lures and even sometimes the XOS ones intended for cod! For the most part I lean towards models from 70 mm to 100 mm and these dive between 3 to 8 metres. Colours are really a personal preference, I break them down in to either light or dark groups and like to have a few choices of each.

Light And Dark – An Individual Choice

  White has been a good fish taker, along with darker colours such as purples and blacks. The recently released Storm Arashi range has been the standout hard body for goldens, they seem to just love them! Vibes have really proven their worth jigging in the snags and also searching with long casts in to open water. Tying the boat to a tree and vertically presenting a lure has been an effective method in lakes and river for years. Vibes are the perfect lure to drop in to these locations, providing good vibration and noise with little movement from the rod tip.

The Storm Arashi has been my go-to searching lure.


Tiny Twitches Are Key

  When I am fishing this method, I will on move the rod tip up and down a few hundred milimetres to put a small amount of action in the vibe. That way it stays in the zone longer and gives the fish a good chance to find it. Every now and then put a couple of large lifts in to the retrieve to mix it up. Hot orange has been my favourite colour for this type of fishing but from what I have experienced colours don’t play a big part in a vibes catch rate. Blades and plastics are great searching tools when the water is clear.
asey Mattson pulled this quality fish from the snag in the background.

asey Mattson pulled this quality fish from the snag in the background.

Take It Slowly

  Plastics can be fished very slowly if need be but the great thing about blades is that they move very quickly. What this means is there is less chance for the fish to decide on whether they will eat it or not. They usually don’t let them get away! Both these lures can be cast very accurately, worked precisely and accounted for hundreds of callop catches when the timing is right.  

Bait Fishing Tactics

  Mostly a simple lift and drop technique as you retrieve the lure works well. Bait Although these days lures are all that anglers talk about, bait has never been more effective for getting a feed of goldens. Whether it’s just a tub of worms or a bucket full of freshly kicking shrimp. Bait can be collected a couple of different but equally easy ways. Firstly, if you have decided on using live worms, the easiest place to get a hold of them is from the tackle shop or service station. The Earth worms that are in people gardens and backyards are different to the ones sold, which are usually tiger worms.

Finally, A Word On Worms

  Earth worms have a lot less movement on the hook, making it harder for the fish to find the bait. 2/0 chemical sharp hooks are the perfect size for soaking a worm bait with and I like to run a small running sinker on the main line. I will then thread as many worms as is physically possible on the hook, threading through the middle of the worm will give a better effect, leaving the ends of the worm to wiggle and move. Usually sending this down in to a snag lasts about one minute before it gets smashed!  
Releasing a fish to catch another day.

Releasing a fish to catch another day.

Lubin Pfeiffer

About Lubin Pfeiffer

Accomplished angler Lubin Pfeiffer lives in South Australia’s glorious Barossa Valley and is fortunate to have started fishing from a very young age. He enjoys all facets of the sport, targeting the vast majority of inshore species that inhabit waters of the southern states. Lubin holds the honour of representing Australia three times at an international level in competition fly fishing.

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1 Comment

  1. Dicko
    May 25, 17:46 Reply
    Great tips and good photo's. We saw Lubin on the NZ Big Angry Fish where Milan was gunning for a Murray Cod. Great video to watch. Well done for SA Lubin. We love the Murray and love fishing fresh water. We recently caught a 55cm callop above Berri. Would love to catch and release a big Murray Cod one day like Milan did.

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