Fish-filled water everywhere
  |  First Published: November 2012

The angling season really fire across the New England now. Bass and trout seasons are under way and results have been great while the green light for cod is not far off.

The gorge bass should be starting to push up into the tight country by now. Reports from lower in the system back in early October were promising, with good numbers of nice fish down around Comara.

As the waters warm and the odd storm puts a fresh into the Macleay River, you can expect the fish to work right up into the higher parts of the catchment. The coming month is a terrific time to hit the Kunderang area.

These fish are fresh and full of fight.

Bass chasers generally favour November to late January as prime time for surface action. Target the obvious structure with the usual suspects such as walkers or poppers. Colour is not really an issue although if the water is clear you’ll find natural colours slightly better.

If your trip coincides with a fresh and the river is coloured, probably spinnerbaits in smaller sizes will perform better. Don’t be afraid to spice things up with white or orange skirts (on the lures, that is!).

If a float trip is your fancy then next month is a better choice. River levels are traditionally more consistent to reduce portages and offer the best run downriver.

As always, contact the Armidale National Parks office about putting in at Halls Peak, a remote but excellent spot to kick off and with great fishing downstream.


The season opening has been very good with excellent water levels and plenty of solid fish holding over from last season.

Each year I meet more anglers on our trout streams prepared to let go the fish and let them grow. This has certainly led to an obvious improvement in the quality and quantity of local fish.

Early season fly-flickers will do well with streamer patterns.

This is not just true of the bigger waters but any obvious pockets on the smaller streams. Small streams demand you get your patterns down quickly so extra weight or even a split shot pinched above the leader will assist in hitting the bottom.

If the streams are not running high you should find terrific action with dry flies.

Down Walcha way, my preferred offerings are traditional dun patterns. The leisurely currents and big waters here require that you cover the water thoroughly.

On the bigger pools fish will not be stationed but will roam, so devote plenty of time to covering all water.

The tighter Ebor streams will fish well with beetle and caddis imitations. The old Royal Wulff and Goddard’s Caddis are standard fare while any generic beetle pattern should draw fish.

This season I am experimenting with a range of foam terrestrial patterns and the results to date are promising.


Split Rock Dam continues to be an underrated fishery in the northwest. I seldom fish it but during Spring I know a group of anglers who regularly target it with success.

Trolling appears to be the tactic of choice amongst the regulars. Hit the water early and drag medium to larger lures first. As the day warms, switch to smaller offerings and head for the shallows.

Last month I heard of some excellent shore-based action at Copeton and Keepit dams. Excellent yellowbelly were common at both venues and the catfish were thick at Copeton.

Worms and shrimp fished off the bottom or under floats were taking fish day and night.

Shallow-running minnow lures also produced the goods and I expect that to continue this month. The old Killalure Tiger is a popular lure in my box when fishing the margins at this time of year.

Fishing the shallows from shore is a pretty comfortable way to start the Summer. A well-stocked camp is never far away when working the banks.

It’s also handy if a Summer storm blows up and you don’t have a 20-minute run in the tinnie back to shelter.

Remember that westerly winds are more common at this time of year. If it has been blowing then the eastern shorelines are usually choked with weed and driftwood, making it difficult to find clear water for shore-based angling. Better to cover the westerly shore and fish clean water.

Watch the weather when out on our lakes. Winds can blow in pretty quickly, making the larger open bodies of water dangerous in small boats.

The recent tragedy on the Gwydir River below Copeton Dam also emphasises the need to be cautious when heading onto the rivers.

Always wear life vests when running our waterways and if in doubt, get out and rope craft down the frothy stuff.

Warming water in the shallow regions of lakes and streams will be full of fish this month. Before the hot conditions make things uncomfortable for the trout or kick off algal blooms in the native lakes, get out into the knee-deep water and pin a couple of fish. You know you want to!

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