Pearl Perch are one of the species that I have little experience in but have always wanted to go fishing for.
A deep bodied and strikingly silver fish with a pearl like shading on the scales, the large eyes and mouth are definitely appealing.
I mean they just look “Yum” and apparently they are.
I recently got the opportunity to chase them offshore from Brisbane in a mates boat.
It was a short fly in fly out trip with limited time so we headed offshore.
The primary focus was fishing for Pearl perch and/or Snapper.
After making our way through the South Passage bar it was off to look at some of the traditional areas where anglers target these species.
We decided to target Snapper first in the 50 metre country before heading wider to tackle a Pearly.
Outside Moreton Island certainly has a lot of country with erratic chart contours suggesting rubble and other holding locations.
On the way out as we approached the 50 metre area I was getting quite excited.
The sounder was showing many slight undulations of harder bottom.
Some spots had areas of larger spikes around 3 metres high. These looked promising as holding points for some decent sized fish that were most likely Snapper.
As you can see from the sounder shot, the returns suggested a cluster of smaller fish near the bottom and a larger type of demersal forager nearby in the water column – probably big Snapper.
As time ticked on we had little luck raising a scale.
Unfortunately the wind and current was not ideal for drifting these depths.
However my mate John assured me these were both large and small snapper respectively as this is all he has ever caught on these locations.
We had a crack but were unlucky to lose a few we never got to see.
After that, with no hook ups on his John’s secret spots, we tried a few more well known to fishers. We tried deeper and deeper offshore with each spot but with little luck.
It seems in these more pressured locations the fish had total lockjaw and hard to get even a bite. A trait of pressured fish and one we all know only too well.
Lets try looking for some new ground.
With the afternoon ticking by time was running out to catch my Pearl Perch because we had to get back through the bar before the big run out tide made it very uncomfortable.
John suggested I take the wheel and see if I could find us something new.
How? Check out our online course Sounder Skills 2.
Quickly studying the chart on the Garmin GPS, I moved about 10 minutes away to look at some discrepancies around the 80 metre mark.
After pulling up and searching for a couple of minutes I found a nice little rise that had small amounts of growth on it. And most importantly had a mega school of demersal fish all scattered across the bottom. They were obviously different from snapper as their structure and return size were very different.
Hoping that they were pearl perch we dropped down in 80 metres and boy the fish were very aggressive.
The fact that they readily took our baits suggest that these fish may never had seen a bait before.
After 20 minutes and few good drifts we nailed 7 nice pearlies before we had to leave and come home.
Many anglers down this way had said to me that the place was relatively fished out but after running over a couple of more areas on the way in that we didn’t have time to fish, it suggests otherwise.
I think too many anglers don’t go to the trouble of spending the time to find new country.
Fair enough this can sometimes be difficult and frustrating and you sometimes have to forgo fishing time. But in the long run it pays off. Take it from someone who has lived fishing for a job their whole life. The more you learn to search out new ground, the more these kind of things come much easier.
As a result, the ability to read charts and understanding sounders inside out allowed us to get onto a feed of very prime table fish. If we had a bit more time the day would have been better again.
It was my first crack at Pearl Perch and the first one I caught was a cracker. At around 60 cm, still a good size and a bit of fun and the flesh is first class.
Above all, I cant reiterate enough the importance of reading fish finders and charts if you want to find those honey holes that you only hear about the pros finding.
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Bait and tackle for Pearl Perch
Typical bottom fish fare work well for Pearl Perch. We used a combination of pilchards and squid.
Because they have a big mouth a 7/0 circle hook or half circle is the best option.
Circle hooks are great as they are easy to remove typically hooking the fish in the corner of the mouth.
A 30 lb outfit is sufficient in either spin or overhead. The Fin-Nor 100 is a good entry market reel for this kind of fishing for Pearl Perch.
For deep bottom bashing like this, braid is best to feel the bites.