Tarwin River

An estuary perch caught in the Tarwin River, Steve Cooper

Estuary perch are the saltwater equivalent of Australian bass, and are highly regarded as sport fish. The Tarwin River is among the more exalted of Victoria’s estuary systems with a solid reputation for producing estuary perch. It flows into Anderson Inlet.

This is the only Victorian water where estuary perch are the dominant and most sought-after species. You would think it was a sure bet for black bream, but very few are caught compared to other estuaries where bream are the dominant species.

Estuary perch in this system can be unpredictable. Sometimes you will find them waiting in ambush in snags; on other days, they might be hunting along weed beds or on the channel edges. There are times when the perch work together in schools, stacking up like a pyramid, and other times when they hunt on their own. As a rule the bigger fish seem to travel in pairs.

During winter, the perch migrate to the estuary system of the Tarwin River to spawn. It is the opposite to the movement of black bream. During the warmer months, you will find the perch up the river, sometimes several kilometres above the main highway bridge.

On very high tides in the evening, look for newly covered grass flats at the mouth of the river. It is a good opportunity to work surface lures.

If you have success with estuary perch be aware of the razor-sharp cutters on the gill plates that can easily inflict painful cuts on the unwary angler.

Anglers fishing the river from shore will find easy bank access, as there are several purpose-built fishing platforms between the highway bridge and the boat ramp at Lower Tarwin. The boat ramp is narrow and can be very slippery  at low tide.

The estuary has many shallow sandbars so if you are unfamiliar with the area take things nice and easy, particularly near the mouth of the river.

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