Dam shallow thinking
  |  First Published: December 2012

This is the busiest time around our northern impoundments. From Pindari and Copeton in the north south to Keepit, Split Rock and Chaffey, visitors flood the foreshores looking for some post-Christmas relaxation.

Although long-range weather forecasters have suggested a return to normal rain patterns in early 2013, many streams will probably remain low during the holidays.

So our impoundments are probably the better options to target this month while early Autumn fishing will improve across the streams.

While many fish from a variety of craft, most anglers are shore-bound.

Most shoreline locations hold depths of about 1m-2m. The deeper banks are usually much steeper banks with limited foot access.

Shallow shore fishing is often seen as dominated by the bait-and-bubble-float brigade and this is indeed a very effective tactic. However, anglers keen to explore the shore on foot will find a basic lure section increases their options.

Here are the major lure choices.


These are excellent in the shallows and should work best at the turn of light. Their rounded nose makes less water disturbance than a cup-faced popper and is less likely to put down with spooky fish. The rear propeller creates a subtle noise for attraction and can be manipulated with minimal rod work.

Run these lures across submerged weed beds. They are best kept moving at medium pace although if fish are really shut down, try a stop-start retrieve with little flicks of the rod tip.


These offer the ability to work a variety of depths by allowing more time to sink before or during the retrieve. On clean, gravel bottoms they can be very effective when hopped by raising and lowering the rod tip.

I like the jigs instead of spinnerbaits in close because they are less likely to hang up on weed, particularly when worked ultra-slowly. This is especially true when extracting a fighting fish that dives for the weed.

They also are terrific worked around submerged timber and the weed guard makes them relatively snag-free. A good trick when fishing clearer water or deeper pockets is to fit a stinger hook with a soft plastic.

Modern nymph or cray imitation jigs are good; keep them short but with appendages to enhance movement.


Moulded frogs and other soft imitations are excellent after dark for cod in the shallows.

Just before dark they can be animated across the top at speed with a high rod. Once the sun sets, switch to short stabs of the rod (tip lowered) and allow the lure plenty time to sit.

I particularly like the Surecatch Frogs, which have a rear spinner blade. Subtle twitches get the blade swinging and this can often turn a following fish into an aggressive hitter.


Although their inherent action is terrific they are very susceptible to hanging up on weed. For that reason they are better worked over clean mud or gravel.

The action generally requires a reasonably constant retrieve so they are also better in areas where the lure can start working before hitting weed or subsurface structure.


Soft worms or grubs are terrific choices, given my comments about weed and fouling. These lures can be rigged weedless and in the larger sizes are great amidst drowned timber.

In clean water they may be weighted with a ball sinker on the line or deeper pockets, rig the sinker on the terminal end and tie the plastic on a hook 30cm-50cm above on a dropper. The spider hitch is a suitable knot, otherwise a three-way swivel works.

Targeting the shallows over the coming month is a great plan and plenty of cod, yellowbelly and catfish will be on the menu.

Generally you’ll be fishing slower and closer than you’d normally think possible but the fish will be there; just avoid the brightest time of day. That’s a better time to have a cold drink and some left over Christmas ham.

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