Spangled Perch fish, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.
Small Terapontid fish, 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. Excellent flavor but has numerous bones, especially in smaller specimens.
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.
Spangled Perch (Leiopotherapon unicolour), also known as Spangled grunter, Jewel perch is most widespread native freshwater fish, occurring across most of northern Australia. In Western Australia it is found in most west-flowing streams north of the Murchison River as well as in isolated desert systems as far inland as Cundeelee. It is found in most coastal and inland systems in the Northern Territory and Queensland as well as south down the eastern seaboard as far as the Hunter River in New South Wales. In addition it is present inland in the Bulloo River and Lake Eyre drainages and occurs extensively in the Murray-Darling system north of Condoblin in New South Wales.
Spangled perch are small to medium-sized, growing to a length of around 10-15 cm, with a relatively slender body. Males and females are similar in size and appearance. They are brown to steely blue with silvery-grey sides and numerous bronze to rusty brown spots, except on the belly. Juveniles have a distinctive dark bar on ventral surface of tail fin.. They grow up to 3.30 m, rarely 2.5 m and 560 g. The single dorsal fin has a moderately sized notch between the spinous and soft-rayed portions. The pelvic fins are inserted behind the origin of the pectoral fins. The anal and pelvic fins are white. The tail is slightly forked, the eye is small to moderate, and the mouth is of moderate size with equal jaws.
Habitat and Habits
The spangled perch are schooling fish, may be found in a great variety of locations due to its wide physio-chemical tolerances. Spangled perch inhabit forest streams, bore drains, small ponds, isolated billabongs and large, often turbid still or slowly flowing waters. This fish can survive water temperatures from 5° to 44°C, salinities ranging from pure fresh water to seawater and pH from 4.0 to 8.6 with a lower lethal limit of around 4.1°C and markedly lower survival below 7.2°C. The spangled perch doesn't like colder water temperatures, and may only appear there after flooding in northern rivers. They live in a diverse range of environments including rivers, lakes, billabongs, dams, bore drains, wells and waterholes. In heavy rains they have been seen swimming across paddocks and along wheel ruts on tracks.
The Spangled perch is a hardy species that is well adapted to surviving in diverse environments such as rivers, billabongs, lakes, isolated dams, bore-drains, wells and waterholes in intermittent streams. This species may survive in bottom mud or damp leaf litter, when waters dry up. Often this species is found in large numbers only a few days after rain in locations that were dry just prior to the rain and which have no connection with permanent water. It has admirable dispersal abilities which allow it to rapidly colonize habitats not readily accessible to other fish species. During heavy rain it has been observed swimming across flooded paddocks and along wheel ruts on tracks. Basically an opportunistic generalized carnivore, spangled perch eat a wide variety of prey including small aquatic insects, mollusks and crustaceans as well as some plant matter.
Movement can be associated with spawning or dispersal, and fish move rapidly upstream, downstream or laterally in flooded environments. The Spangled perch feeds mainly during daylight hours and is primarily a carnivore, although it consumes some plant material (approximately10 % of diet). They are mainly carnivorous (eat meat), eating food such as aquatic insects, crustaceans, shrimps and prawns, microcrustaceans and other fish, but also eat some plant material. They feed during daylight hours.
Spawning takes place from November (following the onset of the Monsoon) into summer. Prior to spawning this fish will often migrate upstream at dusk or at night. Spangled Perch spawn in pairs or small groups after moving upstream. Individuals mature in their first year, males at about 58 mm length and females at 78 mm. Breeding occurs from November to February and fecundity is high and size-dependant, with between 24,000 and 113,200 eggs per female. A 24g (1oz) fish produces 24,000 eggs, a 65g (2.25oz) fish produces 113,200 eggs. Spawning occurs when water temperatures are above 20-22°C and a rise in water level is not essential as the species will breed in impoundments. However, flooding maximizes recruitment. Spawning occurs at night, in shallow areas such as backwaters or still pools and eggs are spread randomly over the bottom. The eggs are small (0.75 mm), round, demersal and non-adhesive and hatch in about 2 days (45-55 hrs at 23-26°C). Many thousands of tiny eggs are scattered over the bottom, usually at night and often in shallow areas with a soft bottom. The larvae are actively feeding within another 2 days. Larval development is complete within 24 days of spawning.
Normally a by-catch species Spangled Perch are a carnivore and eat a wide variety of prey including small aquatic insects, molluscs, fish and crustaceans. Spangled perch will eagerly bite on a wide variety of baits and lures. Not often fished for because of its often small size, spangled perch will nevertheless bite eagerly on a wide variety of baits and fight well. May be a good target for fly fishing. In areas where other species are uncommon or absent, larger specimens are often retained for the table. If numbers are low, the fish may grow to an unusually large size.
Float fishing with garden worms works well. Minnow lures and alike can work at times. Best Baits for a Spangled Perch are freshwater yabbies, garden worm, grasshoppers and shrimps. Heavy fishing in small farm dams and impoundments is needed to prevent a stunted population since these fish are prolific breeders. Schools of fish congregate below barriers such as weirs. Fish spawn in mid-summer.
Spangles fight well for their size and provide good fun on light gear using a small baited hook suspended off the bottom. This fish will readily take lures and flies, this includes almost all types. Often these tenacious fighters will take on a lure much larger than themselves. When encountering a school of Spangled Perch large numbers of fish can be caught in a short period of time making them an ideal target for children. Spangles will often take a small hook down deep resulting in its death, if you want to catch and release this species try circle hooks or changing to soft plastics once the bite has started.
Great rods for Spangled 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