Fish lost in a sea of fresh water
  |  First Published: March 2012

Regional waterway levels continue to be well up on recent years’ and finding fish in the maze of full impoundments and bubbling brooks is testing local fishos’ patience and skills.

Most of us put it down to the fact that there’s so much water and so much natural feed that drawing the attention of fish is a bit of a chore.

Regional impoundments have received many visitors, especially over the New Year, and results were at best patchy.

Trolling and casting lures around the open structure has not been fruitful.

The majority of catfish and golden perch have been falling to fresh baits, such as shrimp and yabbies, fished from the bank.

I recently spent a couple of days at Copeton Dam with my nephew and despite walking the banks and pounding the structure with every kind of lure known, we came up empty-handed.

The only saver was Ripley’s concentrated efforts off a rocky point where a heap of smaller redfin and speckled cod were working. The young fellow had a heap of fun but it was the only action on an otherwise quiet trip.

Reports from other regional impoundments have been similar. High water and relatively cool conditions haven’t facilitated much fishy action.

Into early February the general water temperatures never really cranked up.

My mate and I spent a couple of days down in the gorge country recently in some good cod water.

We fly-fished pretty hard morning and evening but the action was sporadic. Although we took a few nice fish on the fur and feathers, it was not as hot a bite as past trips had been.

The water is pretty cool, cooler than usual, and higher flows mean the pools just aren’t heating up.

Fishing has been slow in the upper Namoi and Gwydir catchments and big floods farther west is this mag gets put together won’t have helped.

A Uralla local recently put in a big night canoe session on the Namoi tops and had only one strike. The fish are there but they are not coming on the chew.


Although I’ve not hit the gorges myself in recent months, the talk is that some fine quality bass have been taken.

Again, numbers are not high but some solid fish have been responding to topwater lures, particularly in the middle reaches of the Macleay. Most action is apparently occurring after dark, as you would expect.

The stretch above The Junction up to East Kunderang has yielded fish although the crossings have been up and access remains difficult.

Success has really been won by perseverance but the fish have been studs, apparently.

It really has been a case of hitting the water during one of the infrequent hot spells to coincide with a good bite.


I’d have to say the trout action has been the pick. Continuing cooler conditions and higher stream flows provide the best trout season for many years.

Whether prospecting the eastern streams or even the western headwaters, the fish have been active. The next couple of months should provide butt-kicking action.

Some solid fish have been banked in the upper MacDonald system out from Walcha. Stream heights have dropped back, with many pools and pockets at prime levels.

Some nice mayfly hatches should start thickening over the next month.

Whether fly-fishing or flicking small lures, the action at dusk should suit all anglers.

The eastern Ebor area is well-suited to midday hunting down in the shaded gorges.

This year the rainbows have been thick and in excellent condition. Working beetle patterns through the shade or a Celta through the gorge pools will not disappoint.

This month I hope to see conditions stabilise and warm up. It won’t be long before the first frost and a taste of the crispy conditions to come.

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