Silver Perch

Silver Perch

Scientific name Bidyanus bidyanus

Silver Perch are a moderate to large freshwater fish native to and once widespread and abundant throughout most of the Murray-Darling river system. They have now declined close to the point of extinction in the wild. Based on simple catchment area estimates, the silver perch has disappeared from 87% of its former range. There are many reasons for this but some of the main problems are alien fish species (carp, redfin, etc.), new alien diseases, habitat degradation, the construction of dams and weirs on the major rivers.

Only one sizeable, clearly viable and self-sustaining population now survives in their natural range, in the central reaches of the Murray River. For these reasons, the Australian federal government has listed wild silver perch as critically endangered under national environmental law since 2013.

In NSW, there are several listed dams where anglers have a good chance of catching one of these once common native fish. As for catching a silver in the river, if you do then it must be released as they are now totally protected.

Silver perch are bred extensively in aquaculture but these domesticated strains and captive populations are of little use in ensuring the species’ survival in the wild. Such aquacultured silver perch are regularly stocked into numerous artificial impoundments where, without exception, they fail to establish self-sustaining populations.

Silver perch are not a “true” perch of the genus Perca, but are instead a member of Terapontidae or “grunter” family. They are oval shaped with a small head, small eyes and a small mouth at the end of a pointed “beak-like” snout. The species is streamlined and laterally compressed, with a spiny dorsal fin of medium height, angular soft dorsal and anal fins and a forked tail. Large specimens become very deep bodied with a large hump behind the head. The colour can be grey, greenish, gold or silvery, darker on the back and paler on the sides, with darker scale margins giving a checkered pattern; the belly is whitish; the dorsal and caudal fins are dark, the pelvic fins white. Juveniles may be mottled with vertical dark bars. Silver Perch usually reach 30-40cm and 0.5-1.5kg, but have been recorded up to to 60cm and 8kg.

Silver perch are omnivorous, feeding on insect larvae, molluscs, annelid worms and algae.

A 6wt rod is recommended with a tippet of no less than 4lb. As for flies my only experience has been with bread flies, however I have read articles recommending flies that resemble mudeyes, damsels and nymphs including small Hamils Killers or Mrs Simpsons flies. As bait fishermen seem to have success with suspending worms under floats it may be worth trying a san juan worm with or without an indicator.