Silver Perch fish, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.
Silver perch are the only major representative of the Terapontidae family in the southern Murray-Darling system, compared to northern tropical systems where Terapontid species are common. (Another small Terapontid, the spangled perch (Leiopotherapon unicolor), does occur sporadically in the northern Murray-Darling Basin.). Though not recognised as a hard-hitting fish, they are strong and determined fighters for their size.
A combination of understanding the fish and the techniques used to catch them will help you to hook more fish to the end of your line. Better knowing and understanding of the fish that you are trying to catch will make you a more successful angler, whether you are fishing for trout on a river or surfing on the beach or trolling on the open water.
Silver Perch - Bidyanus bidyanus, family Teraponidae, also known as Grunter, black bream, silver bream, bidyan, Murray perch are a medium sized freshwater fish endemic to the Murray-Darling river system in south-eastern Australia. Wild populations are also located in north east New South Wales and south east Queensland. Small communities are found in Victoria. Silver Perch is also farmed.
Silver perch are streamlined laterally compressed fish with a spiny dorsal fin of medium height, angular soft dorsal and anal fins and a slightly forked tail. They have a single, long dorsal fin with 12 - 13 spines, an anal fin with 3 spines. Large specimens become very deep bodied with a large hump behind the head. They have small head with jaws of equal length. The snout becomes increasingly beak-like with increased size of fish. Their eyes are very small. Body color varies with water quality, being black, grey, olive green or gold on the upper body, grey to greenish or gold to silver on the sides, and white on the belly. Dorsal, tail and anal fins are usually grey. Small scales are silvery grey and also often have dark margins. Young fish often have dark mottling on the back. Juvenile fish are long and slender; the body deepens in relation to length as the fish grows older.
Silver perch are common at 35-40 cm in length and 750g to 1.5 kg in weight, but can rich up to 61 cm and 8 kg.
Habitat and Habits
Silver Perch are schooling mid-water fish with a preference for flowing water. They occur in a variety of water conditions but shows a preference for fast-flowing waters, especially where there are rapids. Also found in lakes, lagoons and impoundments. Prefers open waters rather than heavily snagged areas, and is often seen to school near the surface. Often congregates in summer in large numbers below rapids and weirs. Is not reported in inhabit cool, high, upper reaches of streams. Schools in large numbers sometimes could be seen near the surface. In summer often congregates below rapids and weirs, they prefer warmer sluggish waters with debris cover. They can survive in water with temperatures ranging from 2°C to 35°C. Optimum growth rates occur between 23-28°C and growth is negligible below 12°C.
Silver Perch are omnivores consuming zooplankton, small crustaceans, aquatic plants and insects, mollusks, algae and plant material. Juvenile preferentially feed on crustaceans and zooplankton with the proportion of algae and plant material increasing with age. Shrimps, yabbies, small fish, frogs, mud eyes, worms and snails, believed to change to a mainly vegetarian diet in larger fish. The importance of vegetative matter in the diet of silver perch is still debated. Silver perch appear primarily to be a low-order predator of small aquatic invertebrate prey, with occasional intakes of small fish and vegetative matter.
Spawning usually occurs in in late spring/early summer (early November to late January), often after long migrations behind the peak of a flood. Usually it takes place close to sunrise in spawning schools of 50 to 70 individuals in flooded backwaters of low gradient streams. Males are difficult to distinguish from females by external examination. Females are usually larger and more round when spawning. At spawning two or three male fish may follow the female near the surface of the water and activity and speed increase at spawning when fish may thrash the water surface. There is usually considerable pre-spawning activity at the surface. Females mature in the third year at about 34 cm; mature males at 23 cm.
Spawning occurs in water temperatures of 23-30°C, often beginning in late afternoon, at dusk or the first few hours of night, where there is a water flow over gravel, rock rubble bottom. Female commonly produced around 200,000 to 300,000 eggs, large 1.5kg females may produce about 500,000 eggs. Eggs are spherical, amber colored at first but colorless and transparent later, approximately 3m in diameter, non-adhesive and pelagic, but will come to rest on the bottom in still water. Eggs hatch within 30 hours to 2 days at temperatures between 22°C and 31°C; Fry begin feeding about 5 - 6 days later, individual fish commonly reach 250-300g in weight in their first year.
Little or no spawning are occur in years with no floods, during drought years.
An excellent fighting fish, silver perch are a popular target for many anglers. Because of their small mouth, smaller baits and lures a best. The best bait by far is freshwater shrimp, followed by scrub worms. Fishermen caught silver perch on unweighted baits such as worms and on small spinning-blade lures in rapids during these migrations, as well as flowing/moving waters more generally. They were renowned as being a very fast and strong fighting fish for their size.
When fishing for silver perch in dams, the best locations to try is snags, weedy channels, grassy banks and drowned timber. The average silver perch that is caught is between 500g to 1.5kg, though they have grown to 8kg. The best time to fish for silver perch is during the warmer months of the year from September through to February. During dam fishing for silver perch better to use a float to keep the bait approximately 30 - 60cm off the bottom, where fish is located. In dams and impoundments the grunter are generally finicky feeders, but can still be caught on light nylon line (2kg to 6kg) using 1/0 or 2/0 hooks and light bait casting outfits or handlines on baits such as worms, crickets, shrimps, yabbies, yabbie tails, mud eyes, beetles, grasshoppers, fish meat, wood and ground grubs together with small lures and to a lesser extent flies.
In autumn and winter their metabolism slows down as they seek cover area to hibernate. Due to the pecking order that exists in dams, silver perch are normally found hiding under fallen trees or in weed beds close to the bank. During their long upstream migration to spawn during spring and summer they often form large schools below weirs and rapids that once gave anglers a great sporting thrill.
Silvers will take flies and lures but it is very hard work for very limited results so bait fishing is generally the recommended method. Light lines and small hooks are the best. Garden worms or peeled frozen bait prawns the preferred baits. They have small mouths so small hooks and small baits (a third of a peeled prawn or 1 worm). You can float fish but fishing directly on the bottom is the usual method. Silver perch caught in dams and impoundments are good eating table fish. The meat is white, dry and firm, with few bones. In comparison, Murray cod or golden perch can be oily and fatty. Smaller fish (less than about 1.5 Kg) are good eating. Larger fish are better if skinned and can have a weedy taste.
Great rods for Silver Perch fishing are:
15ft Telescopic Fishing Spinning Super Light Rod ,
21ft Telescopic Spinning Extra Light Rod,
21ft Telescopic Carbon Pole,
18ft Telescopic Carbon Pole Rod,
24ft Telescopic Fishing Light Action Pole
Freshwater Fish Species
The Perch family species
Saltwater Fish Species