FISHING is a moveable feast.
This time last year anglers were going to Lismore in the Western District to fish for rainbow trout. The fishery was hot and trout were averaging 1kg.
One explanation for the booming trout population was that when the lake filled there were no predators to eat the fingerlings. Well, times have changed.
Cobden angler Rod Shepherd sent me an email this week to highlight the change coming over the lake: "October two years ago, Lake Tooliorook filled but it never completely dried out. Redfin eggs (not unlike golden perch) survived in the wet mud. So, all fish are from the one hatching. I've caught close to a hundred in recent times and these fish represent the average size".
Redfin have all the attributes that attract anglers seeking sport and food. This species is a rough and ready, no-fuss fish that gives fair-dinkum fishing in climatic regions and water conditions unsuitable for more genteel, speckled imports.
On the piscatorial hierarchy, this fish sits somewhere between native fish and trout.
Almost as tough as carp when it comes to surviving in harsh climates, redfin are feisty fighters with attitude, and a tasty type at that, according to my fish-eating friends.
Also known as English perch, redfin suits light-line specialists and is a willing combatant, attacking bait, lure or fly.
Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of redfin.
As a teenager in NSW, I caught reddies in the Murrumbidgee River and Lake Albert, near Wagga Wagga.
I enjoyed catching redfin for their aggression. Nothing has happened to make me change my opinion.
Big redfin tend to hole up among logs, tree roots and shady overhangs. They can be caught in most of the lakes and rivers of southern Australia as well as quite a few farm dams.
The methods of catching them are straightforward.
Tackle requirements for bait fishing or spinning is a 2-3kg outfit. Use a small threadline reel and a light, medium-action rod about 1.6m long. A sharp tip action will help in detecting bites and flicking out lures.
For fly-fishing, a four-to-six weight rod, weight forward intermediate fly line and a 1kg to 2kg tippet will suit.
Popular baits include glassies, worms, small yabbies and minnow.
Hook size for bait fishing depends on the bait being used. The Baitholder patterns suit most applications. A No.10 hook will suit smelt or minnow live baits, while a No.6 to 8 is better for garden worms. If you employ big scrubworms, then start at about a No. 4 and you might have to go even bigger for yabbies.
A popular technique is to fish on the bottom, or else to drift in a boat with the bait suspended just off the bottom. On any lake with redfin and old stands of trees, you will see anglers working bunches of worms or shrimp down into the timber and bibbing the baits up and down to encourage a strike. If you are fishing from shore, you can either fish with the bait suspended deep beneath a float, or simply work a paternoster rig to hold the bait off the bottom.
Redfin will take most bladed lures, such as Celtas, and small-bibbed minnows that run a couple of feet below the surface. Soft plastic lures work well when presented along weed beds and among stands of dead timber.
In rivers, redfin are sometimes found waiting in ambush beneath the overhanging vegetation. To be effective, lures should be retrieved close to the bank in these circumstances.
Soft plastic lures are designed to be cast and retrieved with a lift-and-drop technique, which is the same as bobbing bait.
An alternative method is to rig the lure on a paternoster bait rig instead of using bait. An old favourite lure among redfin anglers is the Baltic Bobber. It is presented as the name suggests, bobbed up and down usually while on the drift.
For fly-fishing, wet flies imitating baitfish work well, but reddies will also take bead head nymphs and a few other patterns.
It's not so much they are easy, rather these fish are co-operative. Mind you, redfin can be contrary and shut down like any other fish.
Flies that produce results include gold bead head nymphs, Tom Jones, Woolly Bugger and Matuka.