On the hunt for big fish
  |  First Published: March 2007

With the extremely low water levels we have at the moment, finding fish is quite easy. Catching them, however, can be a little trickier. By the time this article goes to print, Blowering Dam’s water level will most likely be down into the single figures unless we get some torrential rain before then. Let’s hope we do.

The dropping water levels have forced the fish to continually relocate to new lairs. It has been the same story for the resident crayfish and yabbies. Being slow movers, these crustaceans have been forced to be almost constantly on the move.

So with no nice weed beds or grassy edges left for fish to forage in, yabbies have become the number one food source for most of Blowering Dam’s fishy predators. Not surprisingly, yabbies have accounted for most of the nice fish caught of late, including a 80cm Murray cod and countless golden perch to 12lb.

Yabbies are best fished on a paternoster rig around a metre or so off the bottom, either from the bank or from the boat. It also pays to keep moving your bait and recasting it fairly often. I had a golden perch in an aquarium for a few years and noticed that it would most often eat the yabbies I dropped in before they hit the bottom in freefall. I also observed that it preferred the soft-shelled yabbies (i.e. those that have just shed their old shell). It would often turn its nose up at a normal yabby, then devour a soft shelled yabby when dropped in immediately after. Worms are another bait that’s working well at the moment, with redfin being the main takers. Fishing around points is your best bet, especially ones that have a bit of deep water on either side.

Casting lures around these areas is also worth a shot, and if you’re after a feed of redfin you’ll find that small lures work best. Lures like Celtas, Rooster Tails, small soft plastics and small lipless crankbaits should get you amongst them.

If its natives you’re after, bigger lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits, Wiggle Spins, Chatterbaits and medium to large plastics would be better options. The natives’ diet also includes redfin, so where there are redfin there will normally be natives waiting to pick them off. Casting for natives around the points is a good place to start, as well as any structure that isn’t too far away from some deep water.

Trolling lipless crankbaits and small crankbaits early and late in the day should get you some action this month, but during the middle of those hot days it pays to put something on that gets a bit deeper and is fairly large. During the peak of a hot day most big fish will generally stop feeding and rest in some nice cool, deep water. However, if a nice big feed does come swimming by close enough well… your average big fish can’t really resist the urge of a nice, big easy feed! A small offering doesn’t normally elicit the same response; it’s possible the fish may consider it a waste of effort.

Tumut and Murrumbidgee Rivers

The Tumut River has fished fairly well of late, considering the high water flows. I think people are just starting to get used to having to deal with these flows and are finally adapting to be able to fish it successfully.

Big fish have been hard to come across. There have been a few up around 5lb or so but most fish have been around 1-2lb. Drifting bait such as grasshoppers, Powerbait and worms have been the most consistent methods, however there have still been plenty of fish taken on lure and fly.

Hopper pattern flies fished with a nymph dropper have been the rig of choice in the high flows. The bigger hopper patterns have been working best, due to their buoyancy and the fact that there have been so many hoppers around that it takes a big one to get the fish’s attention. The other advantage of this rig is that you’re fishing below the surface at the same time, meaning you’ll pick fish up whether they’re feeding on top or below.

The bigger trout lures have worked best of late, mainly because of the water levels. The most successful lures have been Tassie Devils in Trout colours and the gold-winged versions, as well as Jackalls, the bigger sized Rooster Tails and plastics rigged on fairly heavy jigheads.

The Murrumbidgee has also fished well of late with some nice fish being landed, and fairly regularly, too. Cod up to 86cm have been caught as well as some nice yellowbelly up to around 3kg. Bait fishers have done well on grubs, yabbies and shrimp, and lure casters have been banging a few on spinnerbaits, Wiggle Spin spinnerbaits, and plastics. And the fairly new (and soon to be ‘must-have’) Chatterbaits have been working a real treat.


1. This 10lb yellowbelly was caught casting spinnerbaits around timber.

2. A cod caught trolling in around 10-15ft of water. The deep diving lure was constantly banging the bottom so a very slow stop-start trolling technique was employed. The cod jumped on as the lure was rising back up through the water column.

3. Murray cod love deep diving lures with a solid action.

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