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Lots of water and fish
  |  First Published: December 2010



Local impoundments are at levels not seen for a decade and there are plenty of fish, but there have been fluctuating reports around the New England, depending on whom you talk to.

The cod action has been mixed with the dams fishing fairly well for those trolling the timber. Some night assaults around the rock bars at Copeton are also proving a hit.

With the huge volume of rain over early December it will take quite a while for the margins of the dams to settle and the water to clear.

I recently spent an afternoon stalking European carp at a full Chaffey Dam, near Nundle, and the water still carried plenty of colour.

Normally at this time of year Chaffey is usually quite clean around the edges. Even so, I did manage to sort out a couple of the carp but overall numbers were down – which, I suppose, is a good thing anyway.

Cod captures at Keepit have been restricted to the upper end of the dam.

The few I’ve heard of have been taken on big spinnerbaits among the sticks. I like these lures when things are coloured up a bit, you can cast and retrieve or jig them, which can be very effective.

The golden perch will be coming into their own now that water temperature starts to peak. Yellas don’t mind a bit of murk so locate cleaner weed beds if you can find them and work them well.

Don’t be afraid to flick a few bass-size poppers around these sites on a muggy afternoon, yellowbelly will come to the surface.

Since late November we have had large numbers of cicadas throughout the region. Although I’ve not managed to get into the gorges yet, I expect the she oak-lined pools to be reverberating with the screaming insects.

This switches the cod onto the best popper fishing of the season.

TROUT STREAMS

The trout streams are fishing very well. There is a heap of water about and on some sessions it has proved too much.

The Ebor and Walcha areas are giving up some nice fish if you can time your trip when the water is more settled. Heading down to Tamworth the other day, the Macdonald River at Bendemeer was running a banker and the colour of milky coffee.

Even so, there has been plenty of trout action in the headwater streams.

This month we should see some terrific hopper and cricket-style fishing.

The abundant feed and humid conditions suit a population explosion in the terrestrials. Beetles and flying ants will also be about in numbers.

We will also get some solid caddis hatches along the running water, particularly where there is some bushy bankside vegetation.

You cannot go past a Goddard’s or Elk Hair Caddis under these conditions. Alternatively, now is the time for some large spinners so suitable patterns in 10 or 12 sizes are worth carrying.

A good tactic on still afternoons is to hang a small generic nymph below a foam beetle or hopper pattern.

The larger fly usually draws the fish’s interest and the tiny nymph seals the deal.

Just make sure that the nymph is well weighted to hang and don’t make the leader extension too long, about 20cm to 30cm is plenty.

Last month I spent a weekend at Uncle Billy’s Retreat near Wandsworth with my partner Meredith.

The bride spent an hour in the boat with me drifting wet flies under a bubble float. She hooked a few fish and landed four nice rainbows in no time. I’ve discussed fishing flies with bubble floats on spinning gear before.

I also took the opportunity to reacquaint myself with my float tube. I bought it years ago and drag it out every Summer.

A float tube is essentially a floating chair and with flippers on your feet, you can explore flat water.

During the weekend I caught quite a few good fighting fish on the fly gear despite Meri’s disparaging comments concerning boys and their toys.

GORGE BASS

I’ve not heard too many reports regarding the bass action down in the gorges. However, given the cicada action I assume that the fish have been on the chew upstream of the Junction.

The Kunderang area always fishes well this month so get down there.

The only real problem this Spring was the heavy rains on the Tablelands which continually sent raised levels of cold water down the gorges so the levels never really had the chance to stabilise and warm. Consequently, the bass were pretty ordinary.

However if the Summer rains ease up I’d expect any of the gorge fisheries to fire.

Shallow-running minnow patterns and bright spinnerbaits are always worth a toss at this time of the season.

Once the shadows lengthen or if the thunderheads start to build, get those poppers out.

Really work these as close to structure or the overhanging brush as you dare. The fish will be there, you just need to annoy them into striking.

The post-Christmas period generally sees plenty of anglers out on our dams and rivers.

There is a wealth of camping spots and waterways to explore so grab a cold drink and get out there.

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