Sci: Perca fluviatilis

Common Names: This introduced or "exotic" freshwater fish is commonly known in Australia as the redfin, redfin perch or "reddie". However, its more correct title is European perch or English perch, being originally a native to the waters of western and central Europe, where it is simply called "perch".

Description: A relatively deep-bodied fish with a smallish head and scooped or concave forehead profile, the redfin is characterised by its very high, spiky, first dorsal fin. The fish's tail is small in relation to the rest of its body. Colouration is olive-green on the back, creamy on the belly with six or more dark green to khaki bands running down each flank. The fins, particularly the pectorals, ventral and anal, are usually bright red or crimson.

Size: In the years immediately following its introduction to a waterway, 0.5 to 2 kg redfin are reasonably common in anglers' catches, but over-population quickly stunts the average length to 15 or 20 cm and reduces weights to less than 0.3 kg. Rare examples have been known to exceed 3 kg and the species has been recorded in Australia to at least 9 kg, which is heavier than the largest perch found in the species' native European waters.

Distribution: Native to Europe, the introduced redfin is now widespread throughout much of the Murray/Darling system, as well as in many other inland rivers, lakes, dams, ponds and swamps throughout New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and southern Western Australia. They prefer warm, slow-moving water with plenty of cover, weed growth and a good population of small fish. It does well in dams, lakes and pondages below alpine levels.

Fishing Techniques: Redfin are mainly taken on worms, shrimps, yabbies, as well as live minnows, gudgeons and other small fish species (where the use of such baits is permitted by law). They are very susceptible to a wide range of lures - particularly spinners, spoons, jigs, bobbers and minnows - and also to various wet flies. One of the most productive techniques is to drop a weighted lure, jig or specially designed bobber to the bottom near cover such as drowned timber, and to jig this offering up and down using short, erratic jerks of the rod tip.

Eating Qualities: A tasty, if slightly dry, table fish, redfin should be skinned, as their scales are almost impossible to remove in the conventional manner. All redfin caught should be killed, as they are regarded as something of a pest in our waters. On no account should live redfin be transported from one area to another.

By Steve Starling