This is one of my favourite times to fish. The only drama with it is deciding where, because there are just so many options.
Murray cod are off limits but the stream trout season is open and the trout lakes normally fish sensationally now, too. Golden perch are now at their most active and can be quite easy to catch and so too are the redfin.
Jigging for redfin is worth a shot this month. While jigging for redfin in Blowering dam we have found Murray cod will hang around to pick off any lost, released, struggling or dead redfin. Cod are opportunistic and if you’re onto a hot bite they hang around and you quite often hook them instead of the redfin.
A mate and I even had a double hook-up of cod while jigging a recent fairly hot redfin bite.
But if you do accidently hook a cod, be sure to release it in the best possible shape. Try not to have the fish out of the water for too long while removing the hook and taking pictures; make sure you support its belly the whole time and while it is in the net or on the Boga grips, make sure you keep the fish upright to maintain its equilibrium.
If you do all these things cod have an almost 100% survival rate. If you don’t, you may end up killing the fish and defeating the purpose of releasing them in the first place.
Fish that have been poorly handled quite often look like they have swum away happily but end up falling into a coma and going belly up a few hours later.
This brings me onto an allied topic: catch-and-release bait fishing. There have been a few studies on the survival rate of released freshwater fish like golden perch, Murray cod and bass caught on bait.
Sadly, the survival rate of these fish after being deeply hooked is well under 50%, so to increase a fish’s chances of survival you should endeavour to lip-hook the fish with conventional J-hooks or, better still, use circle hooks.
Circle hooks are designed so the fish hooks itself without the angler striking, and almost always in the corner of the jaw. Fish hooked in the jaw or outside of the mouth have a far greater survival rate than deep-hooked fish.
Golden perch are at their most active this month as they feed up and start thinking about spawning. The goldens that aren’t spawning are the ones you want to target because once they get focused on breeding they can be very hard to entice no matter what you throw at them.
The most active fish will be sitting in the shallows picking off frogs, yabbies and insects. They can be targeted with bait, lures or flies from the bank or a boat.
The key is keeping quiet and putting in long casts so as to not spook the shallow fish. If you keep quiet often you can see your target before you cast.
The Tumut River is normally the place to be in the first month of the season and after a good break from anglers the trout are generally quite easy to catch for the first few weeks. All techniques will get fish.
If the river is flowing high then bait and lure anglers will fare best but if it is low then all techniques should succeed.
The Goobragandra River is another great trout fishery. It doesn’t offer the numbers the Tumut is famous for but it does hold some very large trout.
Last season I was lucky enough to attain the ANSA Australian length-only record for a massive rainbow trout that was almost as deep as it was long, so this river is certainly worth a visit.Reads: 1487