by Chris Frith
When targeting any species of fish, it is advantageous to identify primary structure types that will be likely to harbour your intended catch, this is particularly important to those chasing golden perch which are very structure orientated by nature. Most yellowbelly impoundments boast massive areas of standing timber, either scattered throughout the dam or lining drowned river and creek beds. These trees are primary haunts of golden perch and one of the most effective ways of targeting them is vertically rolling curl tail soft plastics. By using a vertical approach you cut down on wasted time where the lure would otherwise be out of the strike zone, as well as providing the most user friendly techniques in regards to eliminating (or, reducing) snags and lost lures.
The technique is relatively simple and involves nosing into a tree and dropping your plastic down (to the bottom, or stopping mid drop if you’re in very deep water, say 45ft+) then slowly retrieving it to the boat. This technique is particularly effective on shut down fish as you are offering a relatively non-intrusive lure and capitalising on time within the strike zone, good news considering we’re just coming into a cold snap!
It can be difficult to judge how long to spend on a tree, so you should base it one a few factors. If you have a sounder with scanning capabilities, use a side or downscan to see if a tree is holding good numbers of fish, which will display as small white balls separated from the timber, dedicate more time to trees with more fish. If you’re going in blind, try a hit and miss approach by giving each tree 5-15 drops before moving on. Don’t be scared of fishing some miserable poor excuses of a tree, sometimes the proverbial ‘twigs’ hold good numbers of fish.
My favourite plastic to use when slow rolling for yellowbelly is the Atomic Plazos 3” fat grub in camo tiger, particularly those with a greater proportion of black as these will stand out better when targeting deeper fish (and because yellas’ love black lures). I will always mix things up a bit by using a colour that matches the local bait source, or Brown Crawdad and Rainbow Bass which are also standout colours.
Jig head weight is a personal preference issue but I generally use the Atomic seekerz #2/0 1/4oz or, if the bite is tougher the #1/0 1/6oz is great. Using a soft tipped rod is important for slow rolling, as you will often get ‘bumped’ by the fish which are biting at the tail of the plastic but missing the hook, a soft tip will prevent the fish from feeling too much resistance and being spooked which will often result in a second or third go and eventually a hook up. I find the Samurai 203 (medium fast) an exceptional rod for this fishing as it has the perfect balance of finesse and power to pull goldens out from the sticks, don’t give a hooked yellowbelly too much bargaining power or risk being bricked in the branches.
Next time you’re out on your favourite yellowbelly dam, don’t overlook a vertically presented plazo, the fish love them!