April is the start of cooler conditions across the Tablelands. Autumn is traditionally a bit drier than Summer but streams tend to hold consistent flows and the barometer plateaus out with cool mornings but clear days and nights.
With the cooler conditions, trout tend to become a little more active. Insect hatches are a little more consistent and as a result, fish often feed throughout the day.
With the return of the mayflies, many fly anglers will switch to nymphing tactics during the day. Look for sand or gravel bottoms and watch the pool before approaching.
Evenings usually result in strong hatches of the smaller mayflies and the tails and run-outs of many high country streams will hold active fish.
Arrive in advance of the better fishing times and pay attention to spy moving fish and target their holding lies.
Spinners like Celtas are the pick of the lures now, with moving fish keen on the flashy blades and a faster retrieve. Fish will be holding in the shallower runs now, particularly at first and last light.
Ebor’s spring creeks such as the upper Guy Fawkes and Barwick come into their own at this time.
Seek out the backwaters down near Walcha on the MacDonald system as well for active fish. Often these will be in shallow and tight water, so your first cast frequently needs to be on the money or else your target spooks.
Evening midge hatches become prevalent on the few trout lakes across the region. Private fisheries such as Lothlorian, near Nowendoc, and Wandsworth’s Uncle Billies or Dunmore Lakes fish very well.
Sheba Dam, near Nundle, is a small but productive fishery which receives a hammering but does give up some nice fish each year.
The Murray cod continue to prove one of the region’s best options. Throughout the Summer reports of active cod were consistent and these should continue this month.
River angling has been very productive but the impoundments have been a little patchy.
The upper Namoi, Severn and Gwydir rivers have all been productive.
The best option is to paddle these reaches because this allows anglers to cover a lot more water. Casting from a canoe also allows you to work the banks and mid-stream structures much better than if you are shore-bound.
It is a good idea to upgrade your line strength when fishing from a canoe because often you’ve really got to put the brakes on solid fish while getting dragged about.
Down in the gorges, the bass have been a little quiet. I’ve heard of some sensational sessions down the Hunter Valley at Lake Glenbawn but up here the fish have been lying low.
The sequence of Summer storms put some pretty erratic flows down the Macleay but the run there should steady down now.
Autumn fish will be on the move and can be hard to find.
However, focusing on a couple of traditionally productive pools for a weekend will bring success.
Flashy minnow patterns should work nicely when retrieved through the open stretches. As the water cools, fish will move away from the shrimp beds seeking fry.
On the western side of the range, impoundment angling is still productive. The yellowbelly start to school up a bit so working the trees with jigs or bobbing large yabbies is the go.
Trolling the drowned river bed with brightly coloured small to medium minnows is popular. A sounder will help of course but generally you’ll be running lures deeper than during Summer.
Lake Keepit is one of the region’s better cool-water fisheries.
There’s plenty of water to cover, with more action generally taking place in the middle basin and around Rabbit Island. You’ll need to work a bit of water at this time but once you find them, the fish will be on the chew.
As the water continues to get colder, Copeton becomes a prime choice. Big Winter cod and plenty of redfin are the drawcards here.
Knowledgeable anglers work the medium margins with bigger than average hardbodies and each year some lunker cod come from this dam.
Split Rock Dam, between Manilla and Barraba, is also worth an exploratory trip.
Again, you’ll have many more options with a boat because there is little bankside access.
The lower basin is always worth a troll at this time with cod-sized offerings.
On good looking runs it is worth making several trolls along the same track. The first pass often wakes up the fish and the second run results in bent rods.
Autumn fish are always active but it is persistence that will bring success.
False takes are more common, so trim the tails on wet flies and add stinger hooks to lures for more hook-ups.
Whether stream or lake angling, this month offers productive and pleasant conditions right across the region.Reads: 737