This is a great time to be an angler in the Canberra-Monaro district. Native fish are active, redfin are on the move, trout are feeding vigorously and the weather is warm.
Daylight saving also enables most of us to get out for a fish after work. Very sensible, very pleasant.
One of the most pleasant surprises this season is how well Canberra's five urban lakes have fished. There have been splendid catches of golden perch and Murray cod and the redfin have finally shown in numbers.
And for the coarse fishing crowd there have been abundant carp to fill their keeper nets.
The cod have been taken on lures, yabbies and bardi grubs and some have been really good fish. The best to date out of Lake Ginninderra was 107cm, taken on a spinnerbait by local house builder Dusko Felding.
Numerous others have been over 90cm and approaching that magic metre mark.
Golden perch have been actively taking lures, yabbies, scrub worms and tiger worms. Many anglers have taken two or three in a session and tackle shop worker Lee Townsend found a golden patch in Lake Burley Griffin one afternoon, catching and releasing 15 fish.
The redfin were slow to show this year – so slow we thought there might have been something wrong with them – but they are now around in large numbers.
The kids love them because they are so easy to catch on noisy, flashy lures and the adults like them because they are good to eat. They are in all the lakes and a variety of smaller ponds and dams in the district.
Carp are around in their usual numbers and growing bigger every year. The winning fish in the Lake Tuggeranong Great Carp Catch weighed 11.2kg and there were many others of 9kg-10kg.
The Sydney Coarse Fishing Club staged a big tournament on Lake Burley Griffin in December and caught a truckload. Their practice of releasing all fish caught was picked up by the local media and looked to be starting the usual controversy until I did a few radio programs and explained how and why coarse, non-kill fishing is practised.
We'll have to do the same thing after their next big match, being held later this month.
It's competition time for all the travelling anglers. Some went to the Brogo Bass Bash at Brogo Reservoir, down near Bega.
It was a great tournament, organised by NSWFM reporter Darren Redman and his colleagues from the Far South Coast Bass Stocking Association, held over two days and limited to 100 anglers.
The best fish caught during the prefish was 48cm long and in the tournament an equally pleasing 38cm. I was delighted to see the fierce competition for the two fly-fishing trophies I sponsor, as well as for all the other trophies.
A good crowd also went to Mulwala for the opening of the season Yamaha Cod Classic. One in particular reckons after this year he isn't going again.
He started well, catching 11 cod in the prefish, but then got rained out on his campsite, never caught a fish during the tournament, broke two expensive Loomis and LOX baitcaster rods, ran over a snag and broke a blade off his boat propeller, left early to give it away and blew out a tyre on the way home. Oh the joy of tournaments!
Wyangala Dam has been fishing well. There have been reports of large cod on big lures, nice goldens on lures and bait and a rare 53cm silver perch on a bait. The water has been pleasingly clear and bank and boat fishing have been productive.
Burrinjuck Dam has been the standout local fishery. Lots of golden perch and cod have been caught and even Dean Brind, manager of the State Park, got in on the act, landing a 115cm cod on a spinnerbait.
Best baits have been shrimps caught on site, live yabbies and scrub worms.
Boat anglers have on occasions bagged out on goldens (five per person) on a single tree, bobbing baits or sending down deep divers.
Shore-based anglers have had a problem with hordes of bait-stealing carp schooling in the shallows but these can be avoided in part by casting way out past the main mob to where the cod and perch are feeding.
The big trout lakes have held their levels well, despite a bit of a shortage of rain lately.
Jindabyne is being held at 88% per cent of capacity, Eucumbene at 57% and Tantangara in the mid-20s. Fish have been delightfully active and trollers, bait and fly fishers are all pretty happy with their captures.
Trollers have taken their best fish on three to four colours of lead-core line or a downrigger, using small minnow patterns, Tasmanian Devils or just a single large trout fly.
Bait fishers have done well with Gulp and PowerBait, scrub worms and bardi grubs.
Fly fishers have landed some good rainbows and browns using dries such as the Stimulator, dark beetle, caddis and mayfly patterns and wets such as big Woolly Worms, Woolly Buggers and various mudeye imitations.
The trout streams have had variable flows but are mostly a bit short of water at this time of year. Fishing the clear, shallow streams is a challenge but some nice fish have been taken on fly and lure.
Beetle, nymph, caddis, mayfly and ant patterns have all been useful and it's been fun trying to match the hatch as it varies throughout the day.
Brown and black beetles have been common, especially late in the afternoon. Caddis and mayfly hatches have been near-daily experiences and there are still a few bogong moths kicking around. Christmas beetles have been plopping on the water, grasshopper numbers are building up and we may even see a few cicadas.Reads: 1306