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Good fishing but rain needed
  |  First Published: March 2013



This month anglers can expect modestly good fishing in streams and lakes in the high country and low.

Temperatures are still pleasantly high during the day but cool enough at night to stimulate the fish to move into the shallows. Winds have mostly moderated and barometric pressure is mostly conducive to good fishing.

Above all, the ferocious bushfires that have plagued the region are hopefully a thing of the past.

We had one big fire scare, with the Yass bushfire which burnt out 18,000ha north of Childowlah briefly trapping visitors at the State Park and Woolgarlo resorts at Burrinjuck. Our own farm, on the Yass River directly in the path of the fire, was saved when the mighty mob from the rural fire brigade extinguished the blaze after one week of hard work.

Anglers showed a lot of commonsense during the fire season, reporting outbreaks, joining rural fire brigades as needed, staying away when not required and generally being good friends to landholders.

MOUNTAIN LAKES

Trout have gone deep in Jindabyne and Eucumbene and, to a lesser extent, Tantangara, responding to bright sunlight and high air and water temperatures.

During the day most fish show on the sounder at 10m-13m, sitting in a thermocline where they can most easily extract oxygen from the water.

They tend to stay at that depth much of the day but move into shallower water when conditions change – at night, on a particularly cool or overcast day or sometimes when there is heavy rain or a gale.

Trollers have little chance of reaching these fish by flatlining but could get to them with five colours of lead-core line with a deep-diving minnow, or a downrigger with a 1.5kg bomb.

Trolling with small minnows or a single large fly can be deadly technique at this time of year. Try a Baby Merlin, Rapala or Taylor Made hardbody or a large Mrs Simpson, Hamill’s Killer, Woolly Bugger or Jindy Special.

Fly-fishing at night can be highly productive using a Craig’s Nighttime, Woolly Worm, Woolly Bugger or other large wet from late afternoon until about 9pm. Try for a dark night with no moon and little wind.

Bank anglers should concentrate on deeper water during the day, fishing steep, shelving banks and old river channels with artificial baits, scrub worms and bardi grubs. Mudeyes or grasshoppers fished under a bubble float or on the bottom with a light running sinker also are worth a try.

Artificial baits now include PowerBait, Gulp, Juro Trout Bait and a new one from Rapala. They all work well but it pays to try a variety on each occasion in case the trout have developed a preference for one. Chunky Cheese Gulp and Lime Twist PowerBait are among the most popular but all can be successful.

STREAMS LOW

Most of the regional trout streams have been gin-clear and running lower than we would have hoped. We have seen mostly small fish and assume any larger fish are hiding under the banks. Many of the really large fish have migrated back to the reservoirs.

It's been difficult to winkle out size fish in the middle of the day and most successes have been on fly very early morning and late afternoon.

Rain is urgently needed to get them on the move. There is plenty of food around in the form of grasshoppers, brown and black beetles, grey and white caddis, black spinners, flying ants and marchflies to keep them active.

LOWLAND LAKES

All of the lowland lakes and feeder streams have been fishing well for Murray cod, golden perch, redfin and carp if you want them. The water has been clear, warm and full of food, keeping the fish simulated.

Canberra's urban lakes have fished particularly well, with cod to 1.07m in Ginninderra, 97cm in Burley Griffin and 95cm in Yerrabi, among others.

Most have been taken on spinnerbaits and classic deep divers as well as the more modern Australian hardbodies.

Best time to fish has been late afternoon but a lot of anglers are experimenting, some successfully, with surface lures at night.

There is a big future for this style of fishing. Give it a try with fizzers, poppers, frogs, mice and other models that create a big surface disturbance.

Golden perch have been at their best late in the afternoon on smaller versions of those lures used for cod, as well as on spoons and spinners.

Best baits have been scrub worms, bardi grubs and live yabbies fished on fluorocarbon leader.

One Lake Tuggeranong angler saw something moving in a plastic bag offshore. Casting and hooking the bag, he found a weary but alive 50cm Murray cod inside.

He wasn't able to ascertain whether the cod had swum into the bag and become trapped or whether it was somebody's catch that had floated away. It is now recovering in the lake.

An interesting new ‘league-style’ Thursday night fishing competition has started on Lake Ginninderra. Anglers are issued with a numbered brag mat and cod or goldens are photographed on the mat and released. Photographs are then forwarded to the base station and winners decided on the length of each species caught.

The competition runs for eight weeks and should provide a lot of fun as well as valuable information on catch rates and future management of the fishery by the ACT Government.

Burrinjuck and Wyangala have fished well in recent month doe cod and goldens on lures, yabbies, shrimps and bardi grubs. Night fishing has been excellent.

Some of the cod catches have been quite spectacular. Two anglers who tried surface lures and slow-trolled spinnerbaits until 3am on Burrinjuck landed 15 cod to 22kg.

Another two who fished the Abercrombie Arm at Wyangala landed and released 42 cod in just two days. It is turning out to be one of the best cod seasons we have seen for a long time.

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