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JIGGING GOLDEN PERCH

David Brace

How styles of fishing have changed over the generations when it comes to targeting Golden Perch. I can vividly remember as a young fella, fishing for these fish with a handline spooled with 20lb nylon monofilament line, a sliding #3 sinker, a rusty hook and the ever faithful garden worm as bait. Days long gone of bobbing tasty morsels for these species, amongst timbered areas of lakes and cascading tree lined rivers and creeks. Decades on and new technology, methods, techniques and a wide range of lures have been introduced to target these vibrant coloured freshwater fish.

When locating golden perch, whether it be amongst structure or on open flats, it is imperative to target these fish with the assistance of a good fish finder. This is as beneficial a tool as the rod and reel that you use to subdue these fish. The fish finder will aid you by showing how many fish are within an area and what depth they are holding or schooling at throughout the water column, as well as being able to monitor their movements at various times of the day.

Finding golden perch schooled up and holding on the bottom of an old creek bed, deep within a lake in about 5 to 8 metres of water, usually finds them harder to tempt. In this scenario methodically going through lures and varying techniques is usually the most productive way to lure these fish into taking your imitation bait.

Using the TT Lures range of Switchblades, with their vibrational qualities, you can usually trigger a bite period. Using a jigging technique tends to congregate scattered fish closer to your lure's proximity, but more on that later. Being able to read your fish finder is also essential and being able to identify more active fish to target within a school is also advantageous. Commonly a sharper straighter arch on an upward angle on the fish finder screen represents a fish swimming higher within the water; an active fish that has responded to the action of the Switchblade. A well configured fish finder, with the sensitivity settings adjusted correctly, should show your lure on the sonar unit's screen, jigging up and down within a school, especially when using this style of technique beneath the fish finder's transducer.

There are many methods and techniques used to chase these fish and I'll run through a few that will hopefully give you something to think about next time you're on the water.

In deeper water, when you know what depth the fish are schooling at, TT Switchblades are a great lure to attract even the most timid fish. The countdown method is paramount here, when it comes to effectively targeting these fish down deeper. If you are fishing in 5 metres of water and the fish are concentrated in a thermocline or just above it at about 2.5 metres deep, counting down your Switchblade to the right depth and placing it in their line of sight is crucial.

How is this achievable? Position your fishing vessel over these schooling fish, let your lure sink all the way to the bottom, whilst counting how many seconds it took to reach its destination from the time the lure first touched down on the surface. You'll know when the lure has hit the bottom because no more line will come off the reel's spool and excess line will float slightly on the surface of the water.

Now that you know how many seconds it took to reach the bottom and knowing that more active fish are holding halfway down in the water column, it's just a matter of counting your lure down halfway, engaging the bail arm of your reel and beginning to jig and twitch the rod tip using varying speeds and periodical pauses.

Once you have exhausted this jigging method, try retrieving your lure through the golden perch that are still schooled halfway down in the water column. This is achieved by casting the lure away from your vessel, as opposed to dropping the lure directly beneath you. Employing a retrieval pattern made up of small rod tip twitches and double twitches is an effective technique to entice a strike from these fish.

Now let's concentrate on how to target golden perch congregated in schools and hugging the bottom. As stated above these fish are sometimes harder to tempt, having probably already fed and now being in a digestive mode or potentially just sulking due to environmental changes within the ecology of the lake, creek or river system. More often than not, when a fish strikes a lure whilst in this mode it's usually out of reaction or an instinctive strike. Various jigging techniques can be utilised to arouse and entice these fish to strike, however finding the right technique combined with the colour choice of your lure can sometimes require a systematic approach. Once you have cracked the pattern though, these golden perch will often react to this technique and lure presentation on simultaneous offerings.

So now that we have covered methods for chasing golden perch that are schooling or holding on the bottom and mid-water, with very little surrounding structure, let's focus on targeting golden perch that you have discovered along a slightly undulating, sloping bottom with more structure. After positioning your vessel within casting distance of the bank, make a cast toward the bank and let your Switchblade sink to the bottom. Now, by raising the rod slightly, combined with a few twitches of the rod tip, the lure will quickly rise off the bottom like an injured baitfish and then flutter down on the pause. Repeat this technique, retrieving your lure back toward the boat, over the structure and letting the lure bounce off the bottom every time you pause, winding up the slack line as you retrieve the lure. Be patient as the lure sinks; you'll know when it has reached the floor of the lake or river when the bend in your line above the water suddenly goes slack. More often than not a golden perch will take the lure as it drops, following the lift and twitch with the rod tip.

We have covered various methods using the action of the rod, including jigging and casting techniques, however not in finer detail. Let's take a closer look at jigging techniques under the microscope firstly.

As stated above there are many techniques that could encourage these golden perch to strike your Switchblade. Vary your speed of jigging from fast erratic actions with very short pauses to very slow jigs, to a point where you are only feeling a very, very slight vibration from the lure, before lowering the rod tip again with lengthy pauses.

At times all that is required is to jig or twitch your rod tip up about 30cm, before a fish engulfs your lure! While on other occasions a much, much higher lift is required. Explore other varying techniques as it may be the slightest change to a technique that prompts a bite. One example is lifting the rod tip evenly, whilst hitting your rod butt repeatedly with sharp blows, causing the rod tip to twitch vigorously.

Golden perch also have a tendency to hit a Switchblade while it's dropping during the pauses, so by winding your lure slowly, a metre or so above these schooling fish and then pausing to let it drop suddenly you can trigger the fish to feed. What tends to happen is fish are drawn to the Switchblade by its distinctive vibrations as it swims upward and then as it drops they instinctively recognise that lure as food, as it exhibits similar actions to an ill or wounded baitfish as it flutters back down.

Now that we have covered jigging techniques in finer detail, these same techniques can also be utilised for casting and retrieval patterns when targeting golden perch with Switchblades. It is important to remember though that when retrieving your lure as it comes closer to the vessel you are fishing from it will be drawn higher, often away from the fish, as the angle of the line becomes more acute. As a result it is also advisable to open the bail arm of your spinning reel several times during the retrieve, just for a few seconds, to allow the lure to sink again. This will keep the lure in the strike zone for longer as you slowly retrieve it back through the upper layers of the water column.

When fish are schooling tight on the bottom, using a heavier weighted Switchblade will also assist you in keeping the lure within the fish's proximity, allowing the lure to stay in contact with the fish for longer. A retrieval pattern that is less than exciting, but often effective, involves dragging the lure across unstructured bottom. This allows you to cover ground and is sometimes enough to cause a fish to react and strike, as long as that Switchblade is vibrating. Vary your retrieve speeds to ascertain what excites the fish. A burn and kill approach can also be an effective method. This technique involves allowing the Switchblade to reach its desired depth, followed by a series of brisk winds (burn), then by a pause (kill). Vary the speed and duration of the burn and duration of the pause until you find what works for that session.

When chasing golden perch with Switchblades I personally use 1/4oz, 3/8oz and 1/2oz blades for the varying techniques that are mentioned above. Switchblades have easy adjustable, multiple tow points that can be selected to suit your jigging and casting retrieval techniques to achieve the best vibrational qualities. There are four optional tow points to choose from and by simply moving the clip provided to one of these desired holes you can optimise the lure's ability to attract these fish. For a faster retrieve place the clip closer to the front of the lure, while for a jigging or slower retrieval pattern move to a tow point closer to the rear of the lure to create more vibration.

In the past I have stated that choosing a colour of a lure is not all that important, rather that the lure's action is of far greater significance. However, from experience, when targeting golden perch using these techniques, the colour of the lure has equal importance. When these fish are schooling, in depths of five metres or more, the sun's light penetrating to those depths is very minimal, along with factors such as floating sediment and silt, and the possibility of suspended algae increasing the less than perfect visibility. So, when taking all of that into consideration, it's highly likely that these fish are seeing the lure in shades of grey, as opposed to the colours we see the lure at above water level.

Rotating through a variety of Switchblade colours, whilst figuring out what offerings these fish are willing to take, can be beneficial. I have gone to extensive lengths to ascertain what colours work best for a wide range of species including golden perch and some of the colours that I have found work best for this application are; Aussie Green & Gold, Red Nightmare, Copper Head and Brown Mongrel.

Although golden perch haven't got the stamina of other freshwater native fish in relation to their proportional size, such as Australian bass, they're still a hard hitting fish, an opportunistic feeder and they are great fun to target using a light rod and reel outfit. I hope this information will assist you next time you are targeting this incredible freshwater species and that you give jigging Switchblades a go as it is an extremely effective way to catch these gold coloured Australian beauties!

Cheers Dave

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017