Golden perch and the perfect storm

Ken Smith found golden perch on the chew big time ahead of an approaching storm.

The barometer had been sitting in the mid-1030s for a few days. The forecast was for storms, and the dry inland heat was so intense that drawing breath was a laboured affair. The large cumulonimbus clouds that were forming every afternoon as the heated air from the baked Western Plains was pushed east by the dominant winds, now reached the western edge of the Blue Mountains. The super-heated moist air lifted rapidly until the cooling effect formed the spectacular clouds they call storm clouds.

Farmers, spirits lifted by the promise of rain, would usually have their hopes dashed as the cooling night air dissipated the clouds without shedding a drop of rain. Today was to be different. The forecast was for rain storms, and it is a well-known fact that fishing the front of a storm where a high barometer plunges to a low reading can bring on a feeding frenzy with fish. Like a storm chaser, I had hooked up the tinny and was heading towards the huge clouds forming on the horizon, watching them turn from pure white to a dirty grey while the insides lit up with tremendous electrical activity.

Ken landed 10 fat goldens in a highly-charged session

The amount of lightning made one think. Do I really want to be out on the water amongst a fierce electrical storm? After I launched the boat I started a slow troll, looking for some schools of fish to target. Having travelled about 200 m, the 3-5 kg Dropshot buckled as a solid fish was hooked. The fish stayed deep and took a while to subdue using 6 lb Fireline and 6 lb fluorocarbon leader. When the fish came to the surface it was longer than the Rogue Eco net, a 675 mm golden perch buckled up into the net.

The fish would have easily exceeded 20 lb in weight. A quick picture and the big girl was sent back. Deciding to keep trolling rather than work the point that the big girl had come from, I wasn’t to be disappointed. There was action galore! I was even thinking at one stage of going back to one rod instead of two, as double hook-ups with only me on board was proving a bit hard to handle.

The rain had started and I was now hooked up to a fish that slowly swum away from the boat, taking line as easily as it pleased with no sign that it was hindered by the bowed rod and the drag of the reel . Eventually I wound the second rod in and now was backing up on this unseen fish, as I was getting close to being spooled.

The fish had stopped in amongst some weed and I was now directly above it, but all I could feel was a thump of a very big tail. Putting as much hurt as I could on the fish, I could not lift it. Eventually the hooks pulled free. Maybe another big golden perch or possibly a Murray cod.

The cloud was now on top of me and it seemed every fish in this central NSW lake was on the prowl, eager to eat whatever they came across. Lightning, rain and wind now mixed to form one of those fishing sessions where multiple fish were hooked, landed or dropped. The tally of fish that were landed in the highly-charged fish feeding period was 10, with that many again recorded as missed opportunities.

All the fish caught were golden perch, and they all appeared to be females heavy with roe. Approaching darkness eventually sent me home, but a return visit with my 81-year-old father the next day saw the fish still on the chew, although the action was definitely declining.

Lures used were the smallest Stump Jumpers; they can be worked in the shallows without constantly hooking up in the weed. The depth that seemed to favour the fish on this day was the 12 foot mark.

Springtime in Central Western NSW sees a fantastic golden perch bite and no matter which lake you choose to fish it seems the section from the shore to a depth of 20 feet is one of the most favoured. As we approach summer I will be watching for those days when the big cumulonimbus clouds promise more than dashed hopes for our farmers. When they do open up, they can be the trigger for a fish bite that can be described as phenomenal: “The Perfect Storm”.

Another lovely golden perch caught in the aftermath of the storm.


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