Early morning starts in May are generally cold: the frosts are brilliant white; puddles and even quiet backwaters can freeze over and if it’s really cold, the guides on your rod can even freeze up while you are casting.
It’s worth it, though, because this is the time of year when big trout move – those big river fish, the ones that hide out in blackberry-lined pools, the ones that are nigh impossible to cast into.
With three or four good seasons now, there should be some real crackers on the move.
Casting 5cm-7cm shallow-running minnows in the rapids above and below the pools is one way to target these fish.
Fly-fishing is another, with a Glo Bug and a trailing nymph deadly at times.
Not all trout will show spawning behaviour at one time; brown trout are generally the first to go, then rainbows later in the year. A wicked cold front late in May is usually a trigger.
Creeks and rivers are not the only places to target pre-spawn trout.
Brown trout in Lake Lyell are well known for their aggressive feeding behaviour before the spawn. The rigours of spawning take a toll on trout and they need good reserves of fat to keep them going.
Trolling lures is far and away the most popular method of targeting these big pre-spawn browns although getting out on the bank to cast small lures and soft plastics in shallow water during low light periods is one of my favourite methods.
Quite often it can be a visual affair, which adds an extra element of excitement.
The same tactics can be used up at Thompsons Creek Dam. Stalk slowly, look in the water where you can see (sounds obvious but I am surprised by the people who scan acres of water and never see a thing), stop if anything looks fishy, stay low and keep any movement to a minimum.
Presentations need to be made well in front of the fish; working in pairs is quite often advantageous.
Frosts can be thick down lower in the catchments as well, it’s just that the days can be that little bit warmer.
The good thing about cod fishing at this time of year is it’s in office hours.
Sure, you can get up early but it’s no real advantage. A warm swag, then a warm coffee at leisure and waiting for that sun on your back sounds much better.
I have seen the odd big fish doing the fishy equivalent of what I have just said, minus the coffee of course: Out in open water 10cm-15cm below the surface, sunning themselves with not a care in the world.
They come to life fast, usually beating a hasty retreat to their favourite snag.
Trolling is king in the impoundments, especially in places like Wyangala. With such vast expanses of water it just makes sense to cover the water at the correct depth.
Keep in mind the number of lures and boats that these Wyangala fish will have seen by this part of the season. The more popular runs will just about have track marks on the bottom!
Shorter, more difficult runs may be better. Look out for offshore humps and even big standing gum trees out wide in deep water. Quite often if they are in the right depth they can be a haven for baitfish, small yellowbelly and big cod.
Think outside the square; don’t be part of the herd.
Now is a good time to stock the freezer with some redfin fillets.
The main basins of Ben Chifley, Carcoar and Burrendong dams will still have plenty of small fish but if you do your homework, you should be able to target some bigger fish as well.
Bigger redfin have slightly different habits.
Rarely do they hang out in big schools but they won’t be far away from the smaller ones that make up a fair portion of their diet.
Quite often if you are catching a lot of smaller fish and the school is very active, it can attract and trigger bigger fish close by (not just redfin either).
Cast out a bit wider from the boat with a fast-sinking vibe, metal or plastic. Work it erratically up and down as it sinks and the hits will usually come on the pause, so be ready. Watch your line.
This is sometimes a good way to target the bigger fish.Reads: 621