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Golden Perch / Callop / Yellowbelly - Macquaria ambigua

Golden Perch form the backbone of the inland fishing in Australia. They are willing takers of baits including crayfish, shrimps and worms. They are also lure takers with spinnerbaits and trolled deep diving lures gaining more popularity. They can often be found in large schools in both river and lake situations. Eating qualities vary depending upon the waters they are caught from and the size of the fish. Larger fish are often very fatty along the top of the back.

Golden perch are commonly caught at about 5kg, but can grow up to 9kg (76cm). Weights of up to 23kg have been recorded, but these are questionable. Golden perch are sexually mature at 4-5 years of age and can live for as long as 19 years. At maturity these fish are around 41-42cm in length. Their colouration is variable ranging from dull black to brilliant gold. Generally they have a dark brown to olive green back, shading to yellow or white towards the belly. Larger adult fish have a very distinctive form. They have a high-humped back and stumpy, barely functional tails. Their gill covers have razor-sharp serrated cutting edges. Golden perch feed on shrimps, crayfish, small mussels and occasionally fish. When breeding they may migrate considerable distances upstream during the spring and summer high water and the female may deposit over 500,000 eggs each about 4 mm in diameter.
Confusing species - Golden perch are sometimes confused with Macquarie perch (Macquaria australasica), however golden perch have a concave forehead and protruding lower jaw. Small golden perch are also often confused with small silver perch, goldfish, carp, Murray Cod and Trout cod.

Golden perch are found only in freshwater. They occur in clear, fast-flowing rivers or streams, as well as slow-flowing, turbid rivers and backwaters. Golden perch prefer warm, turbid slow-flowing streams. They range throughout the Murray-Darling river system in central and southern Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. They can also be found in rivers draining into Lake Eyre. Golden perch undergo long migrations upstream in late spring to early summer. There are three genetically distinct stocks of golden perch. One is native to the Lake Eyre drainage system (Macquiria sp.), another to the Murray-Darling system (Macquaria ambigua) and the last to the Dawson system (Macquaria ambigua oriens).
The abundance of golden perch has dramatically decreased in the Murray-Darling and Fitzroy catchments due to migration obstruction and the alteration of flow regimes and temperature stratification following the construction of weirs and dams.

Stock from the Murray-Darling system has been introduced to dams thoughout the Marray/Darling catchment and in many dams along eastern Australia.

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Copyright© 2004 Garry Fitzgerald. Sweetwater Fishing Australia