Early starts, late finishes
  |  First Published: December 2012

The heat of January brings about a change in the way I fish. Most of it is done after the sun goes down, or just before it comes up.

This means very early starts or late finishes. The fish are most active at these times and you do what has to be done to catch a few.

Murray cod in a river hold up under the cover of a tree or log during the middle part of the day, conserving energy.

Cod in an impoundment have a bit more latitude. With deeper water and more space, they can afford to be a little less picky when it comes to cover.

As light levels drop the cod become a little more active. For a river fish initially it may mean a move of just a few centimetres, just that little bit further forward into the current, so the strike zone just got that little bit bigger.

If the fish likes what it sees, hears and feels it may even move all the way out and start to cruise. Active fish are hungry fish and these are the times that numbers of cod will be caught.

Bass, too, are low light level feeders at this time of year. Large beetle hatches occur late in the evening and can switch them on to what’s happening on the surface.

Small crucian carp and baitfish also become active as light levels drop.

In the morning it can be like a rush at the checkout for the specials before they go – I am sure the bass know that a dawning day means feeding time is nearly over and caution can be thrown to the wind – what a great time to be on the water!


January’s heat can also concentrate dam trout into deeper water where they can be targeted with downriggers, lead-core line and full-sink fly lines.

Lake Lyell, near Lithgow, is a busy place with ski boats and the like so keep this in mind. Mid-week or cool days in succession can quell the activity somewhat.

A quality depth sounder can help no end in finding fish. They can be up to 20m down in some cases, usually and around the thermocline. Target the right depth, where you can see fish on the sounder.

Thompsons Creek Dam, between Wallerawang and Portland, also has some deep water available to anglers; difference being there is no boat access.

There are some old quarries that were dug out during dam construction with some very deep water close to shore.

Heavy spoons are great for these areas; cast them out count them down, lift them and let them flutter back down, it’s a great way to target these fish during the day.

Depending on water temperature, later on in the evening the trout will move into the shallows for a feed. This is when fly-fishing comes into its own.

Beetle patterns are popular with the trout, along with mudeye patterns.


Carcoar Dam, near Blayney, and Ben Chifley Dam, near Bathurst, can be busy over Summer. But boat traffic doesn’t seem to worry the redfin, especially those in deeper water.

It can be absolute mayhem in the boat with double and triple hook-ups at times. A lot of the fish are small at this time of year but great fun, especially for the kids.

I have found bigger fish quite often bite as light levels drop in the afternoon. Trolling small deep divers that get down close to 6m can be productive.

Don’t be surprised if a big golden perch jumps on; they will be active as well.

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