Brimming waterways
  |  First Published: December 2011

Last month I suggested that the ‘wet Spring had kept rivers ... topped up’ – then we copped a heap more water!

It was the wettest November on record for the New England with nearly 250mm recorded for the month, so regional waterways have certainly been brimming.

Pindari Dam cracked 110%, while other local impoundments got some terrific boosts.

Now that things have settled down, the edge fishing on local dams should be exceptional. Copeton has been fishing very well for cod and yellowbelly on fresh bait and lures. Some scattered reports also suggest Split Rock Dam is ready to fire.

My pick for January would be wading and casting impoundment flats with adjacent structure. Working waist-deep water along drop-offs should produce plenty of medium-sized yellowbelly and redfin.

Unless conditions prove otherwise, I’d be twitching soft plastics at slower than normal retrieves. With an abundance of food available, fish generally won’t chase your lure too far.

Wet conditions early in the month kept the flats fairly dirty and I didn’t get out for my early Summer carp trip. Now that things have cleared, I’m certainly keen to put in a weekend on mud puppies with the fly.

All the rain had to go somewhere and the Macleay system hit a peak of about 8m. It certainly would not have been the place to be camped on a low river flat!

Such high flows do naturally ‘clean’ the river and quite a lot of the marginal weed and gravel beds will be gone.

Water levels should still be higher than normal so anglers should carry a few heavier jig heads and spinnerbaits. It is imperative to get close to the bottom when flows are faster than normal and the extra weight is needed to sink quickly.

Casting a little farther upstream of structure than normal will also give your offering extra time to get low in the water.

I’ve not heard fresh reports from anglers hitting the bass gorges but things will have settled down and the fish should be getting active again.

I also expect my predictions of a solid cicada run to have come to fruition. Generally a superb Spring is followed by plenty of cicada chatter.

I’m off into the cod gorges next week for four days fly-fishing the big greenbacks and I'll be carrying plenty of poppers.

My comments on the eastern gorges apply to the western rivers as well. The Namoi and Gwydir system levels went through the roof but they should settle quickly.

Cod seem to take a little longer than most other species to come back on the chew after floods but I suggest big lures will stir them up.

Following a strong fresh, the smaller species move throughout the systems. This puts them well and truly on the plate for cod ambushes.

Getting an oversized lure hard against the structure will definitely pull some exceptional cod this month.

Snag-resistant lures such as spinnerbaits and weedless jigs are the preferred weapons.

With water clearing, I like chartreuse and orange patterns. This colour combination seems to draw fish consistently down in the cod pools.


The trout streams were out order into early December after the floods but they are fired up now. This season is definitely proving to be one of the best on record with plenty of above average browns and rainbows.

The dry fly has been proving deadly and over January you should find most beetle, ant and hopper patterns will draw fish.

Lure anglers will find just about anything with a little flash will get a response.

The Walcha waters should produce some outstanding fish through the warmer evenings.

I am still tracking down information on the investigations into the fish kills on the mid and upper Macleay. Maybe by next issue I can give a more complete picture.

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