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Hoping for better weather
  |  First Published: December 2012



Canberra-Monaro anglers are hoping for some decent weather after several months of hopelessly confusing and inclement weather.

After a long, hard Winter and expectations of a good Spring we were met with heavy rainstorms, winds peaking at 134kmh, hailstorms with lumps of ice big enough to stun a chook, late-season snowfalls of major proportions and night temperatures regularly below zero. It was, for example, the coldest October for 44 years.

We've had quite enough, Huey, thank you very much. Now we would like something a little better.

Maybe the weather will improve for the opening of the Murray cod season. Anglers have been looking forward to it for a couple of months but hopefully not because they want to kill a cod, just to catch one legally.

It has been a bit embarrassing watching the number of cod that have been caught accidentally during the closed season. They were frisky in most breeding waters and at times it seemed impossible not to catch one.

At Burrinjuck, for example, one angler caught and released nine cod in one day down near the dam wall. Others came from various locations in the Goodradigbee Arm, the Yass Arm and well up the Murrumbidgee. It seemed as if the cod couldn't help themselves when they saw a lure passing by.

In the ACT urban lakes a goodly number of cod fell to lures and yabbies, scrub worms or bardi grubs.

One angler trying to do the right thing at Yerrabi Pondage deliberately avoided using cod-sized lures and fished instead with a tiny blade and he still landed a 93cm cod!

Another grabbed a fly an angler was using to try for carp in Gungahlin Lake. It was only 40cm long but it was as feisty as all get-out.

Sod's Law says that now the season is open we probably will have trouble finding one!

To the credit of anglers, however, most of the fish captured that I heard of were quickly returned to the water. We seem to have made a good job of making the cod an esteemed Australian icon, to be treated in accordance with the size and importance of one of the largest freshwater fish in the world and a fish that is uniquely Australian.

I know of many anglers in their 30s and 40s who have caught, but never killed, a Murray cod and never intend to. More strength to your casting arms, chaps.

GOLDEN MOVEMENT

Golden perch were slow to wake up after Winter. The cooler it was, the more they hugged the bottom, steadfastly refusing to move from their Winter hidey holes.

Anglers hunted them with lures and live and dead baits and although they hooked an odd one, there was never a catch to write home about.

Then the rain came and that triggered a mass movement of the fish. At Burrinjuck, for example, where just one or two fish a day had been landed along the shore of the Murrumbidgee Arm, there was a mass movement of fish up-river.

One group landed 28 big fish in a day using scrub worms near Taemus Bridge. Another group at Good Hope had 14 and a third group 11.

In the Queanbeyan River fish which probably originated from Lake Burley Griffin worked upstream right to The Cascades at the base of Googong Dam. They provided great sport on small lures worked through the turbulent water on light tackle and again showed why they are one of the most popular sport fish in south-eastern Australia.

Some nice specimens also have been taken in Canberra's lakes. I advised one caller to look for structure in deeper water and fish with one of my favourite lures, the Heddon Hellbender, and he caught four golden perch and a closed-season cod under the main road bridge over Lake Ginninderra.

The fish will now spread out to a variety of locations through the Summer and should be a great quarry to pursue on bait, lure and fly.

REDFIN MISSING

The big question this year is where are the redfin?

Normally redfin are the first of the local fish to shrug off Winter. They start to show around August, breed in September and October then turn up as millions of bait-thieving, lure-pinching pests throughout Summer.

This year that hasn't happened. A few schools of larger fish were located in deep water in Burley Griffin in October and the fish seem to have spawned OK, but to date there is little sign of the millions that normally show in local waters.

Anglers are wondering if the EHN virus, which each year culls a significant proportion of the redfin during Summer, has been more than usually effective and occurred early.

There are mixed feelings about the lack of redfin. Some claim their absence makes it easier to catch a cod or golden; others say it takes away the fun, especially for kids, of catching lots of fish on lure and bait and getting a feed for the table.

We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

STREAMS BUSY

Trout streams have been busy since their opening in late September. Heavy rains marred the opening weekend and flooded streams and heavy snow meant many anglers tossed in the towel and went home or retreated to the lakes for a fish.

I didn't mind that, because at opening time the streams were still full of late-spawning rainbows dreadfully vulnerable to predation by fly and lure anglers.

A week or two’s respite gave many fish a chance to finish spawning and skedaddle back to the relative safety of lakes Jindabyne, Eucumbene and Tantangara.

They and the browns, which had spawned earlier, are now fair game and there has been some good fishing in the Thredbo, Eucumbene, Moonbah, Goodradigbee and Murrumbidgee rivers as well as the superb stocked streams south and east of Cooma.

There has been some especially good fishing in the myriad small creeks and streams dotted throughout the ACT and NSW where many fish have decided there is enough water to provide a safe haven.

I won't name them because I don't want to provide a street map for the meat hunters but suffice to say, if you see a stream with water in it give it a try with lure or fly.

LAKE FISH

In the mountain lakes, fishing is progressing as previously – lots of small to medium rainbows and an odd brown on PowerBait, Gulp, Trout Bait, scrub worms and bardi grubs. There also are some lovely browns and better-sized rainbows on fly and a mix of fish on lures.

Best flies have been the small black and red Matukas, Purple Nymbeet, Green Nymph, brown Woolly Worms and Woolly Buggers, with Craig’s Nighttime and Mrs Simpson after dark.

Small darkish dries are deadly in the small streams.

Minnow lures and Tasmanian Devils, mostly worked deeply, have been successful in the lakes but Celtas, Mepps, Imp spoons and tiny minnows have been have been the most useful in the small waters.

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