Anglers are still puzzled about the activities of two of our local fish groups this year.
The first is redfin, which to date have largely been a no show. Redfin normally are the first of our local fish to emerge from the winter torpor but this year are still playing silly beggars, staying in hiding.
We recently ran a local redfin competition and 60 anglers fished their hearts out for two days with bait and lure for just 13 small fish to 27cm. There should have been thousands of them but we still don’t know where they are or why they aren’t biting. Oxygen levels and water temperatures are okay. They aren’t dead and haven’t been eaten, so what’s behind the no show? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
The other puzzle is the almost total lack of fish for the trout opening. It was a dreadful long weekend, with virtually no fish in major rivers such as the Thredbo, Eucumbene and Murrumbidgee and just an occasional brown for many hours of flyfishing, bait fishing and trolling in Jindabyne, Eucumbene and Tantangara. Many anglers reported at best one brown for 13 hours of fishing.
The speculation is that a major flood just before the opening swept the river fish back into the reservoirs and the subsequent low barometric pressure kept them off the bite. Again, suggestions for the failure would be welcomed.
Since the opening, the behaviour of most anglers has been laudable. The only down side I heard of was when a group found some late-spawning rainbows and not only caught them but killed them to take home. They would have been useless to eat – soft, flabby and unpalatable. A complete waste by anglers who should know better.
By contrast, the golden perch have been going gang busters. They came on the bite in Canberra’s local lakes and Burrinjuck in late September and have been actively taking lures and baits ever since.
Top baits have been scrub worms and small yabbies and the best lures and have been spinnerbaits, bibless minnows, mask vibes and especially the incredible Burrinjuck Specials from Stuckey Lures.
Some of the fish have been absolute monsters – one caught at Burrinjuck was 69cm in length – and all have been in good condition.
The closed season for Murray cod went well.
Many anglers tried not to catch them, avoiding known habitats, using smaller lures and baits and generally doing the right thing, but as always the cod, frisky as ever during their breeding season, insisted on getting hooked. These fish were freed and released as gently as possible and we made sure there was no publicity given to captures.
Now that the season is open, anglers can make up their own mind as to whether or not to kill a cod. Most anglers I know don’t kill them, but it is a personal choice.
Visitors to the ACT often comment on the high proportion of fly fishers in the local angling community. There’s a good reason for that – an abundance of teachers who work free or for a small fee. Throughout and just outside the ACT in NSW there is an extraordinary number of anglers who have discovered the joy and productivity of flyfishing and who are willing to pass on their skills to new anglers.
I teach every Saturday and have had thousands of students over the past 45 years and I don’t think I have ever had a failure. Flyfishing is that simple. Sometimes 30 minutes tuition is all that is needed to get someone on the path to an entirely new form of fishing. Some of my students also have gone on to greater heights, becoming involved in high-level competition casting and becoming teachers in their own right.
The local Canberra Anglers Association and ACT Fly Fishers also do some good work, donating their time and energy in ensuring newcomers get plenty of useful tuition. The CAA in particular run free casting classes for the public on the three Sundays prior to the opening of the trout season each year and these are heavily patronised.
Sometimes, we get a special guest teacher such as Tasmanian Peter Hayes, a 10 times Australian Casting Champion. Peter spent a week in Canberra this year before the opening, giving a series of lectures and running classes for beginner, intermediate and advanced casters. Every event was heavily booked and we look forward to having him visit again next season.
Some commercial operators also provide top-flight service. One good example is Peter Walsh, a dedicated flyfisher who runs Rainbow Springs, a comprehensive fly fishing school just over the border in rural NSW. He takes raw beginners right through his detailed fly fishing course and at the end the students get an opportunity to test out their new-found skills, fly casting to wild browns and rainbows in his lovely, clear, spring-fed lakes.
The fish weigh up to 5kg and it is a delight to watch students hook their first-ever fish on fly. Even if they don’t land it, it is an experience they will never forget.
Consequently, if ever you are coming to the ACT and would like to learn to fly cast, let me know beforehand and we will make sure you get an opportunity to learn about the most fascinating form of fishing in the world.Reads: 937