Trout options remain
  |  First Published: June 2012

Quite a few changes across the region this month. The trout season is all but over, at least in the local streams, and the conditions will get increasingly colder.

With Summer and Autumn being relatively mild, the word on the streets is that Winter could be brutal.

Although local streams are closed from June 11 there are some excellent trout options on regional still waters. Although we have only a few public trout impoundments there are several excellent pay fisheries well worth the money.

Sheba Dam at Hanging Rock, high in the hills behind Nundle is a terrific little day fishery. You can of course camp there but an evening or morning outing will let you fish the best of it.

It is a very safe, kid-accessible angling venue. Tassie Devils are the preferred lures here and over the next month or two I’d stick to pink or silver patterns.

The weight of these lures allows you to cover a lot of the water with long, searching casts. Try the area adjacent to the jetty or the dam wall.

Another regional impoundment that is popular over Winter is Dumaresq Dam, out of Armidale. Again, trout are the preferred Winter target and some solid fish do reside here.

There is also the sprinkling of juvenile redfin that arc up over the colder months and provide great fun for kids.

If you are willing to part with a few dollars then there are three superb private fisheries in the New England region.

Uncle Billy’s and Dunmore Trout Waters are both near Wandsworth, not far from Guyra. Their accommodation is superb and the angling is at its best over the Winter.

Conditions here can be bitter but rug up and enjoy some of the best trout angling in the State. Call Dunmore on 02 6779 4210 and Uncle Billy’s on 02 677 94216.

The third operation is Lothlorian, east of Walcha. Again the dam is regularly stocked and like its northern counterparts, this fishery is no pushover.

You’ll need to work for the trout here – it’s no shooting ducks in a barrel. For further information phone 02 6769 2335.

A similar range of Tassie Devils as well as a few minnow patterns will suffice for lure-tossers.

Fly aficionados will get best results at this time of year with medium Woolly Buggers in black and pink, or small midge pupae.

One tip for cool-weather angling is to reduce the amount of movement you impart to your flies. Don’t strip aggressively and often dead drifting pupae on a long leader will be very productive.

Early in the morning you will be surprised at the number of fish cruising the shallows. Often the downwind shoreline will have fish mopping up after an overnight midge hatch. Fish light and carefully for some of the larger specimens.


Winter heralds the targeting of big cod across the Tablelands. Although extra-large fish are taken over the prime Summer months from rivers and lakes, Winter produces a band of hardy souls hitting the stillwater.

Supersized spinnerbaits and hardbodies are the weapons of choice and although exploring the banks can be profitable, trolling is the preferred Winter tactic.

Copeton and Split Rock are two of the top big cod venues in cooler times. Those who know tell me you are better to be close to the bank than in the deeper water.

Ultra-slow trolling speeds are the key. Run a spread of lures that hug the inshore and offshore depth changes. A couple of thermoses and plenty of hot soup are also required because it can be a long day to achieve results.

Out on the rivers, persistence with the bigger ammunition will also still draw some large fish. If you own a good beanie, get out after dark and thoroughly work a couple of good structure-holding pools.

Leave the long walks for Summer and target shorter sections of water.

The lower Gwydir River, the middle reaches of the Namoi and sections of the lower Peel River can all provide excellent Winter cod action.

The yellowbelly tend to go off bait once the water temperatures fall and searching with oversize jerkbaits and plastic slugs is a better tactic.

Places like the northern shoreline of Keepit Dam and the western banks at Chaffey may turn up the odd nice yellow or two this month.

However, if the cold easterly winds freshen it is probably better to stay by the fire with some warming beverage or other.

Winter offers its own challenges to fishing across the Tablelands and Slopes. However, a little tweaking and some perseverance will undoubtedly give some excitement. Just get out and do it!

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