Trout lead the way
  |  First Published: March 2011

The heat of Summer was a little erratic, although the stream and impoundment levels remained stable. Inflows were consistent and the fishing was also pretty good.

The trout fishery continues to fire and there have been some great reports of yellowbelly in the region’s dams. The cod have been a little quiet and down on the Macleay, the bass action has been all over the place.

The current trout season has seen the best water levels for a good while.

The Walcha region suffered from very high levels across the streams early in the season but whenever flows stabilised, some quality fish have been taken.

It’s mostly rainbows on the menu at present but as the weather starts to cool, don’t be surprised to find the larger brownies coming on the chew.

The bigger pools of the Cobrabald and the upper Macdonald rivers will be the areas to target over the next couple of months.

Walcha is a great jumping-off point for trout action. If you’ve not fished the region before, contact the Walcha Tourism Office for further information on access to streams. They continue to produce an excellent little brochure with local contacts.

The Fossicking Reserve on the lower Cobrabald is a pleasant camping spot to base yourself or you can choose accommodation in Walcha; most streams are not far out of town.

The Spring and Summer rains were plentiful across the region and in many areas the grass is very long. Snakes and bushfires should be considered when setting up and moving around camp.

Lure or spin anglers should be hitting the water at first light with Celtas or small minnows; I like the old Rapala trout patterns.

Avoid jigs and deep-diving minnows; you’ll want to be working your offerings less than half a metre under the surface.

Work your lures around the heads of the pools and tight along bankside cover.


Fish will be particularly active with a little shadow on the water so stay out until these lengthen at day’s end. Midday fishing tends to be fairly quiet so hang the hammock in the shade for a few hours.

If you find you are getting a few followers that will not strike, there are several options.

One is to dramatically change your retrieval rate. This may mean cranking the lure back at speed, or stopping and letting it hang in the water.

Alternatively move up or down stream or even cross to the other side and draw a lure through the same area but at a different angle of attack.

Most of the time fish fail to strike because they see the angler so keeping a low profile, particularly in bright conditions or with clear water, is the go.

Below the Cobrabald and MacDonald confluence you’ll find some pretty enticing pools, although they can be spread out. Look for clean, sandy bottoms and you’ll be in the right spot.

Although these areas tend to have fewer nymph food sources, you’ll find shrimp and yabbies in abundance and hence the bigger fish.

Boxley to Woolbrook is an excellent section to search with Celtas. A lot of these lower reaches are well shaded with willows and fish better throughout the day than higher in the open pasture country.


River and impoundment fishing for golden perch by all reports has been good.

Traditionally, Autumn at the dams is a terrific option, whether trolling or working the banks.

Working a little wide of the drowned structure with big plastics is a great option over the coming month. Hopping orange or chartreuse multi-tails on medium jig heads should draw a response.

Most fish will not have pulled back tight into the timber and crevices yet, so work water that traditionally you might have missed. Drop-offs adjacent to the flats are high-probability areas, especially at first and last light when the fish get a little more active.

I’ve heard that Keepit and Spit Rock have been producing, although Chaffey and Copeton are a little quiet.

The bays along the south-western shoreline at Keepit have been running pretty hot, especially on days when the wind dies down and the skies are clear.

It is only a short run from the ramp. Those working the banks tend to avoid the area because of the steep nature and bush-choked access but if you are willing to give it a go, there can be rewards.

Armidale local, John Everett, recently gave me a copy of a new cod fishing DVD. I had the pleasure of spending a weekend several years ago with John on some cod water near Glen Innes and over a couple of days we landed our fair share of the green fish.

The DVD focuses on targeting cod throughout the gorge country of lures. The country and photography are both worth the price alone. John tells it how it is to spend plenty of legwork in rough country for the ultimate pleasure of hard-hitting fish.

If there is one comment I would have preferred to see a little more information on lure selection, knots, etc. Most anglers who buy DVDs such as this have limited knowledge of the subject and some in-depth info on gear and tactics would be a plus.

Those fishers with the experience generally don’t purchase such movies because they do it themselves. That said, if you have never spent a night around a fire of river oak and been hammered by one of this country’s most iconic fish New England Fishing – Murray Cod will give you a pretty good taste of it. Contact John at NewEnglandFishing.com.au.


Down in the gorges and lower towards the Junction, the bass action has been all over the shop.

I know some anglers have been timing it right, encountering nice fish up to the mid-40cm mark on surface lures throughout the day.

The key has been to hit the river when the levels have stabilised for 48 hours. Some reckon the river this Summer has been up and down more frequently than a groom’s boxer shorts!

However, if you can strike it then the bass have been happy to slam a lure or two.

A couple of regular bass stalkers tell me that when the water has cleared they have had great action on orange Sliders. Not too many anglers use these and I have talked of them in the past.

Get a couple and fish them ultra-slow, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

The next couple of months offer some of the most pleasant and productive across our region. As Steve Winwood sings, ‘If you see a chance, take it!’

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