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The one that didn’t get away

Fishing stories can be interesting, long-winded, boring and exciting all at the same time, depending on who is telling the story. As far as these stories go, what listeners would ultimately ‘not want to hear’ is about ‘the one that got away’, they want to hear about the one ‘that did not get away’ and they want proof!

Every fisherman or ‘fishing enthusiast’ has his ‘tale’, however there are differences between the cool handed experienced fishermen and the novice whom is accustomed to loosing a lot of lures each outing.

Most fishing enthusiasts are actually thrill seekers who wait for ‘the storm after the calm’, the laid back reeling in and reeling out the lures in the outdoors, with mother nature providing the backdrop and calm waters can go from a peaceful outing into an excitement filled few minutes once a fish hooks on.

With splashing and thrashing not to mention the adrenalin pumping through the veins before the feeling of fulfilment and joy of landing a fish takes place. So what is it that sets the good fishermen apart from those who can't seem to catch a thing?

2 main things, understanding your fish and knowing the equipment that you will deploy. Once you get the synergy of these two factors, there will be no stopping you from telling ‘fish tales’ that have a triumphant ending.

The Fishy Business: Understanding Your Target Species

Whether it is a Redfin Perch, Trout, Carp, Bream, Flathead, Snapper or Gummy Shark, every fish species have their own traits and what attract them, what does not, what scares them and what arouses their curiosity. As this would be an ongoing article, we will look into the traits and habits of the Victorian Redfin Perch otherwise known as the European Perch (Perca fluviatilis).

The history of the Red Fin is starts with the fact the fish is not native to Australia; it was introduced to the freshwaters of Australia in 1868 from England. According to the ‘fish tale’ the first consignment of these fish were confined in a small water reservoir, shortly afterwards maintenance was required and the nets enclosing the fish were removed, it was then found only seven fish from the entire consignment were still alive (the total that was in the consignment remains a mystery, but has been quoted in the past as over 200 fish which initially left Britain, with only 7 surviving).

After being in such a dire situation, it was decided the remaining 7 should be released freely into the entire water system, instead of the previously planned net enclosures.

From this, english perch were sold off to buyers in Queanbeyan, NSW along many other private buyers for farm stocking. From this they were introduced to the Murrary Darling River System and over time either migrated or were translocated to most river systems in South Eastern Australia.

Once free to breed, redfin can produce up to several hundred thousand eggs each breeding season, multiplying their total numbers significantly in a short amount of time. In todays world with high conservation awareness and focus, this species is being declared in many states as a pest, noxious or unwanted organism, hence meaning they now have become fugitives with a bounty on their tails.

Now that we have covered a little history, let's move on to the physical characteristics of these resilient creatures. The Redfin as the name suggests has red fins along the bottom of the body and on the tail, their record growth can be up to 60 cm and weigh about 10 kilograms, but commonly a decent fish you will catch in Australian waterways are around 45 cm and weigh about 2 Kg.

The colour varies depending on the diet that is available to them and can vary between slightly olive green and grey in appearance. They are predatory fish and feast on crustaceans, worms, insects and sometimes even frogs.

Habits & Habitats

The Redfin is commonly found in lakes, rivers (slow moving) and dams. They love to hang out in reeds and weed beds as they feed off passing smaller fish. The vegetation surrounding them provides the camouflage that they need to hide them as they blend in perfectly among the reeds with the vertical lines on their bodies.

So the moral of the story here is to lure them out and how you lure them isn't rocket science because of one fact – they accept almost any type of lure – they are a greedy lot.

Luring the Fish to the Lure

In lakes and impoundments, redfin lures such as spin, plastic hard body lures and soft plastic lures are all commonplace in catching these fish. More traditional bait is worms and prawns dangling from a hook, anything that looks like a meal is an attraction to them.

However, fishing for them in lightly flowing rivers or streams, is an entirely different story – in these environments redfin lures work best as in these habitats they clump into schools and a school may have anywhere between 50 to 100 small, average and large Red Fins grouped together and the type of lure deployed will determine which ones from the group is going to lash out and take the bait.

Normally the Redfin Perch lay in ambush and ambush smaller fishes that swim past and therefore the idea is to make the ‘fish think’ that your lure is a delicious fish that is going about its business, thus having the right sized lure, colour, shape and size is essential to the ‘entrapment’ and mimicking a moving fish with your lure. While spin fishing comes with practice, it is true that practice does make perfect.

The downside of spin fishing is hitting snags due to the fact that flowing streams or rivers are riddled with driftwood, rocks and tough weed that would put an end to your cast, thus knowing where the school ‘might be’ or which direction they will move towards might improve your chances by leaps and bounds provided you have some experience in knowing the types of areas where they might be or are headed towards.

The good news is however, that redfin ‘prefers slower moving current’ meaning you can avoid areas with heavy water flow. The main intention is not to cast your line into a location where hungry schooling fish are, close enough for them to see it and come after it. If loosing lures is not common with you, then casting directly beside driftwood can produce more fish if a school is unable to be found.

So to make a long story short – target practice is rudimentary and everything you use (reels, machine, lures, lines) everything plays a part and the more you do it the better you get at it – again it’s about the one that did not get away!

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