An article by Ultimate Fishing (FishingTackleLures.com.au)
Redfin Species Information:
Redfin Perch is a moderate sized, relatively elongate, fish with a pattern of six or more tapering bands on the sides of the body. It has a noticeable black mark at the rear of the first dorsal fin; its pelvic, anal and caudal fins are red in colour. Body colour varies from olive green to grey, fading to green or silver along its flanks and whitish on the underbelly.
This species has a humped back behind the head, a large mouth, a slightly forked caudal fin and two dorsal fins (the first with 13 to 17 strong spines).
Perca fluviatilis occur in a wide variety of habitats including lakes, dams, billabongs, swamps, rivers and streams. However they are most commonly found in still to slow flowing freshwater environments or backwaters in rivers and lakes, especially where there is abundant aquatic vegetation. Redfin Perch can grow up to 60 cm in length and 10 kg in weight, but more commonly reach between 40 to 45 cm and 1 to 2 kg.
Redfin are voracious predators, frequently consuming crustaceans, worms, molluscs, insect larvae, frogs and small fish. Juveniles feed mainly on small crustaceans and insect larvae.
Victorian Redfin History:
Perca fluviatilis (Redfin / European Perch) was introduced to Australia from Europe in the 1860’s.
In 1868 a consignment of English Perch was received from England in Ballarat, Victoria. They were held in a wire netting enclosure in a reservoir, and nine weeks later it become necessary to lower the water in the reservoir to allow of necessary repairs being carried out, when it was found that seven fish had survived.
These were released freely into a swamp in Ballarat, which was later converted into a large body of water now known as Lake Wendouree. These fish were the original parents of the redfin stock so widely distributed throughout Australian freshwater river systems, lakes and dams to this day.
In 1888 some of the fish from Lake Wendouree were transferred to ponds near Queanbeyan in New South Wales, and from there they escaped or were introduced into the Murray River system, where they have increased enormously in the most sluggish waters created by the building of weirs and dams.
Redfin traits and fishing advice:
Melbourne and its surroundings boast many small inland lakes, dams and ponds which are generally situated in and around housing estates and local parks. I would suggest that more than 90 per cent of these small waterways contain redfin and if you search a little, you will be surprised as to where you will find them.
Redfins urban habitat regularly involves them spending a lot of time in reeds and weed beds. This provides protection for the fish and with their dark vertical lines helps them to blend in with the vegetation. They will usually stay in this area, eating smaller fish as they swim past. This ensures in or near reed beds as being some of the best areas to throw lures around.
At times they can be easy to catch and range in size from a few hundred grams through to the odd specimen close to a huge 3 kilos. They will accept basically all lures, including spin lures, hard body lures in all variations and soft plastic lures. When not using lures, the best general baits I have found for redfin is large scrubworms and raw prawns.
If fishing for redfin in rivers and streams, lures are usually best, but very easy to loose to snags as these areas are usually full of fallen tree branches (driftwood) and river rocks. The good thing about stream and river fishing is that redfin are mostly a schooling fish, meaning they stay together in packs, sometimes more than 50 can school together for protection, when you find a school, throwing a lure in and giving it a few quick jigs will usually lead to a quick hook up.
Large lakes also usually lead redfin to school for safety instead of hide away underneath or behind driftwood or inside weed beds, so the same benefits can be found in lakes, usually though you will require a boat or kayak to get best results for catching schooling redfin in large lakes. Redfin which don’t school and decide to live alone usually inhabit areas near fallen driftwood or in between reeds where they can keep some cover, while waiting for a meal sized fish to swim past, a lure infront of them in these areas will usually lead to a quick strike. While many people loose a lot of lures in these areas at first, they are one of the best places to target redfin.
Redfin Equipment & Lures:
My favourite lures for redfin are grub style lures, with a 5 gram weighted jig head (weighted hook) on the end, however spin lures and blade lures of a similar weight are also enjoyable and produce good results. Usually however, soft plastics won’t produce as many fish if you simply cast and retrieve, you need to jig the lure, that involves reeling the lure in slowly for around a second, then pausing and letting the lure drop, then flick the fishing rod upwards to make the lure rise and fall, then repeat the process, this helps your soft plastic lure seem like a distressed or spooked fish, and entices the redfin to bite more than them seeing a lure simply wizz past their heads.
Hard body lures are much easier to snag off but produce a good amount of fish, most colours are suitable but anything with red, pink, yellow or green is usually preferred. Popper lures are great when you come across a school of redfin and they are in feed mode, small popper lures can produce some entertainment as the redfin basically jump out of the water to grab the surface lure.
If you live local to a lake or river in Victoria and want to improve your chances of catching redfin, an excellent method for this is to burley (throw fish pellets) in the area where you are planning to fish for redfin a few days later, visit this spot at the same time each day, throwing in a fair amount of burley pellets (trout feed pellets tend to work best), after 2 or 3 days, return to this spot the following day at the same time and fish, usually the redfin become accustomed to your food being in this location at a certain time, and it increases the chance they will be in the area. Unfortuately this also increases the chance of European carp to be in this area too, so it is not always a win win situation, carp is always going to be a by-catch in urban environments as are eels in streams and rivers.
The growing Redfin situation here in Victoria:
Redfin has a tendency to eat as many fish as they can, they are also extremely quick and very accustomed to hunting their prey with great success. Because of this they are known to kill off a large number of juvenile native fish and reptiles, causing problems for recovery programs and conservation.
In Victoria for the moment (as of early 2014) it is still a personal choice whether to catch and release redfin back into the water or dispatch (kill them), however as native fish recovery is quickly becoming important for conservation and river health, this will likely change in the near future so all redfin caught will require dispatch, and without allowing them to be returned to the water under any circumstances.
Redin can be dispatched quickly using a fishing priest, which is basically a wooden or metal rod with a heavy blunt end, a strike to the top of the head just behind the eyes will usually dispatch a redfin very quickly and painlessly.
Victoria has a very large population of small native fish species which are often unknown to the angler, these fish provide management for river health along with our own health, from control of mosquitos and surface insects, to aquatic insect control, algae and water quality control and control of fry fish overpopulation.
These fish also have the important trait of being able to pass through weirs where larger fish are incapable. In order to begin methods to protect these species, Redfin dispatch may be enforced the same way it is with European carp in Australia, requiring the fish to be killed immediately after initial catch, and either taken home for food or required to be placed in a bin.
It is worth noting that the small common Mosquitofish, which was introduced to Australia from America and has taken over most urban waterways, is a problem fish in it’s own right, as it out-competes native species for food, you will often find mosquitofish in closed lakes and areas between weirs where the fish can not travel upstream, in cases like this, redfin may actually help control the mosquitofish populations of these areas, so while the law still allows it, catch and release of redfin may not always present a major problem in waterways such as these. Most times where mosquitofish exist, very few if no native fish species occur due to their ability to consume available food a lot faster than native fish are capable of.
Urban redfin in closed impoundments and lakes pose less threat and catch and release in these waters may not present a problem, as they live in this one environment only with no access to rivers or streams.
The river populations however breed in large numbers and school together, travelling up and down the river eating whatever fish, invertebrates or juvenile reptiles they can find. Following your local waterways may result in you finding impoundments, where fish in the lower reaches may be unable to travel upstream, these weirs were mostly constructed to control the flow of water in the lower reaches, while keeping the water levels upstream healthy, but now are also an asset to river health as they stop pest fish migrations upstream, effectively containing them in the lower reaches.
While it is still legal to do so, the choice of whether to dispatch or catch and release is your own, we recommend considering the above if you are more inclined to catch and release however.
Dispatch / Killing Redfin humanely.
The method I use to quickly dispatch redfin to cause them the minimum amount of stress or pain, is to land them in a shrimp net, the netting of this stretches and you can easily place the net down and hold the fish in place with the metal frame, after this I push the metal frame against the fish so the fish sits upwards in the net, then usually with a quick apology to the fish, strike 3 or 4 times heavily with the fishing priest quickly and directly at the top of the head just behind the eyes.
This has never resulted in anything but an immediate death to the fish so far. Leaving any fish out of water to die means a very slow and painful death, so learning how to quickly dispatch using a fishing priest is actually a more humane method which you can feel better about doing.
Also the most important thing if you are planning to eat any fish is to ensure the internal organs are removed as soon as possible after catching and dispatch, the fish should then be washed or rinsed in clean water and stored in a container to keep it cool, preferably one filled with a little ice to maintain temperature.
Eating / Cooking Redfin:
Redfin make a great meal and is relatively easy to cook provided you have a tool for scaling the fish, if you don’t a strong knife can be used, but a scaling tool is much easier and costs next to nothing to purchase.
Start by removing the head of the redfin after dispatch, following the contours of the side gills, after the head is removed, cut from the front of the body towards the anal fin of the fish, lift the fish carcass so that the remaining organs drop out the bottom of the fish. Leave the fins on for the moment, as you will need to hold the fish in place strongly to remove the scales, this is the hardest part. I usually place a knife in the tail of the fish to hold it in place, then scale back towards the head until all the scales are removed, after this the tail and fins can be removed.
At this point, you want to remove the skin, at the base of the fish the skin is usually attached to a small muscle, which is separate from the top muscles (the fillets), so grabbing the skin at this point and strongly but carefully pulling the skin towards the top spine of the fish usually removes the skin without a problem, this is then repeated at the other side until the skin is completely removed, discard the skin.
What is left is the spine and ribs of the fish, and at the top a large fillet of muscle on both sides. To remove this without any bones, run a sharp knife beside the spine until you feel the knife touch the ribs of the fish, after this turn the knife and proceed to cut along the ribs, the fillets will then fall off completely bone free.
My personal method for cooking is a basic batter from flour, water, garlic powder / paste, salt and pepper, then shallow or deep fry for a couple of minutes each side, fish from questionable waterways may be preferred to cook a little longer, or not eaten at all.