Those early morning starts in winter can feel like such a drag. The temperature outside is bitterly cold and the tingling sensation in your fingers subsides only with thermos in hand. However, if last year is anything to go by the large Murray cod from our region will be lurking around in all the likely locations this winter. They favour the shallower margins of our rivers and dams, trying to warm themselves and pouncing on what they hope to be an easy meal.
All your favourite summer locations will still hold good fish, but look for slightly different locations. We generally see our native fish as cunning, calculated, stealthy hunters and for the most part this is true, but in winter the cold changes the cod’s primary food sources. The once abundant shrimp and yabbies have gone into hibernation, forcing the cod to feed on larger prey. It’s not uncommon to see these fish feeding around shallow weed beds, rounding up nervous groups of juvenile carp. You can also sound them up in mid water in our dams, hunting schools of bony bream or redfin perch in the type of formation coastal anglers would compare to mulloway chasing poddy mullet or snapper chasing pilchards or slimies on the inner reefs.
With all this variation in feeding, it pays to look at each season differently to bring out the best results in your fishing, whether it be on your home waters or traveling further afield. What might work in one location might not work so well elsewhere.
Lake Keepit has been holding steady over the last month but the fishing has tapered off slightly. Cool weather generally makes golden perch lethargic but what the fish lack in numbers they make up for in size.
I tend to focus my efforts around this time on the shallow margins of the dam. Taylors Square is a known local area renowned for producing fish when the going is tough, so shallow diving minnows from about 1.8m to 3m are my preferred winter depths for the golden perch and smaller cod. Heading around the edges of the dams in 25ft of water looking for bait schools on the sounder will have you in the game for those big green brutes that fill our minds before each and every outing.
Split Rock Dam has been very quiet for some time but I would expect some rather large fish to come from this picturesque dam this month. The sheer rock walls and quarry areas should hold some good fish but persistence will be the key to finding those large goodoo. Bait fishers will do well, and baits of wood grubs and worms are a favourite for the majority of anglers.
The June long weekend will see the closing of the NSW trout season in all rivers and streams, so make sure you get out there and chase a few of these beautiful, hard-fighting imports before it’s too late.
Late season normally means the trout are getting ready to breed so bright colours of orange/pink/red are likely to produce. The fish are also not shy so sometimes a larger lure will grab the attention of the larger bucks or pre-spawning females. Lures like the 70mm Balista Trigger have accounted for some great fish around the country in recent times. If you are new to the sport or an old school troutie from way back, the Mepps range of spinners are a great starting point and should not be overlooked.
Fly fishers will do well with the Glo-Bug patterns or big nymph patterns. Fish them around reeds, runs and weed beds. Remember the fish will be schooling up so where you find one there’s a good chance it’s not alone, so keep casting. Bait fishing these areas with worms, corn, mudeyes or packet mix baits will also take quality fish but the key is to fish light lines of 6lb or less with a small sinker and a size 8-10 hook to finish up the rig.
The Peel and Naomi systems have been fishing well and should continue to do so this month. The diehard cod fishermen will be putting in extra efforts this month in the hope of catching that 1m+ fish that is a pinnacle in outback fishing circles. Large diving lures and spinnerbaits will be the mainstay but don’t discount surface lures as those shallow runs will hold some surprisingly large fish. I can’t count how many times I have caught good fish close to home in areas people write off as too shallow or fished out.
Fish hard, fish smart and never give up because it could be that one last cast that can turn a bad day into a great year. I’ll see you out there on a river somewhere.Reads: 851