Stephen’s Top Tips For Murray River Yellowbelly

  • Yellowbelly are a year-round option for NSW and Vic anglers fishing the Murray River in the Yarrawonga area – just heed the total fishing ban downstream of the Yarrawonga Weir during cod closed season.
  • River fish are often more aggressive and less fussy about the lures. They’re also leaner and harder fighting.
  • The biggest, juiciest snags aren’t necessarily the best place to look for river yellowbelly as these areas are often taken by cod, which push other fish out. Look for yellas in the smaller snags, tendrils, leafy structure and the secondary locations that cod don’t take residence in the bigger snags.
  • The most important thing you can learn is to fish your lures extremely slowly. When using rattlebaits the lure should be moving so slowly the rattles don’t make noise! Suspending lures are also good as they can be paused during the retrieve and fish will take them as they hang stationary.
  • During the winter months you’ll need to use smaller lures. Don’t be surprised if a big cod eats your small lure – or even nails a yellowbelly on the end of your line.
  • Watch the Goulburn-Murray Water website for details of water releases from Hume Dam and keep an eye on water levels in the river. Small rises in water level often stimulate golden perch to move and feed.
  • The approach changes a little between seasons. Fish school for spawning in Spring and Stephen finds lipless crankbaits work well at these times. Summer fishes well with hard body diving lures. In the cooler months spinnerbaits and hard bodies work best.
  • Calm, warm days fish well and the new and full moons usually fish a little better. Low light periods around dawn and dusk are often the most reliable.
  • Stephen prefers to cover the snags well and put a lot of casts into each likely piece of structure when fishing for yella’s (but the opposite for cod). He’ll start with a lipless crank and then switch to a hard body.

Stephen’s Yellowbelly Tackle Preferences

  • Stephen uses the same rod and reel combo for all lure styles and all seasons on Murray River yellas – a Bone Drago 610 and a 100 size baitcaster. In the warmer months he loads the baitcaster with 10 lb braided line and a 15lb leader. In the cooler months he prefers 20lb braid and 20 lb leader.
  • Stephen likes fluorocarbon leaders for diving lures and lipless crankbaits as the negative buoyancy aids in getting the lures down. For suspending crankbaits he prefers mono leaders, which help the lure to suspend better.

Stephen’s Best Yellowbelly Lures

  • The Jackall TN60 is the most productive yellowbelly lure that Stephen uses. These can be slow rolled through structure or along the bottom, or they can be worked with gentle “waves” so the surge along in subtle bursts. Holding the rod at 45 degrees during the retrieve will orient the lure so it’s less snag prone, but be aware that lipless crankbaits are always going to be quite snag prone.
  • Suspending lures like Paul Knellers Deception Shrimp is a great choice for yella fishing, but are very snag prone. These are cast into slightly clearer areas within snags and are fished with lots of pauses. It’s super important to let the lure sit stationary and most strikes happen on the pause – and they’re usually quite savage. Work them carefully around structure and bring a good lure retriever!
  • Smaller hard body diving lures make up the trifecta and Stephen has multiple favourites. #2 Stump Jumpers are good, as are Custom Crafted Extractors. He also likes various other Australian made options like Oargee Peewees, Kuttafurra lures and similar 6-8cm lures that dive to between 1.5 and 3m and can be worked very slowly.  He fishes these when the fish are active and aggressive, especially during the low light periods. These are slowly retrieved, with small pulses of the rod tip. In contrast to the other styles, Stephen actively attempts to contact timber as often and noisily as possible.

Stephen Booth Profile Picture

Stephen Booth

Fishing Journalist, Tournament Angler, Brand Manager

Stephen studied Environmental Management at Uni, where he started writing articles for Fishing World and Freshwater Fishing, eventually becoming a sub editor at Freshwater Fishing Magazine, then Managing Editor at Fishing Monthly Group for 13.5 years. For the past 4.5 years he’s been marketing manager at Wilson Fishing. A keen tournament angler, Stephen had top 10 ten team placings in the Gold Coast Flathead Classic from 2009-2013, was part of the 2015 Lake Mulwala Cod Nationals Championship team and the Australian Freshwater Masters Champion Team in 2017/18 and 2018/19. He was the 2017/18 Australian Freshwater Masters Champion Angler and backed that up with a runner up the following year. Also in 2017/18 he boated the biggest bass in the Glenbawn Freshwater Masters and in 2018 picked up the 2nd and 3rd biggest cod in the Copeton Cod Classic. When it comes to yella’s Stephen’s done plenty in the flowing waters of Vic and NSW, which is what he’s sharing today.

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