Late bloomers
  |  First Published: July 2014

By now some anglers may be rugged up on the sofa, others at the pub enjoying a hearty meal and reminiscing about those warm summer nights out along the river. However, on those cold evenings the fishing hasn’t slowed down. If you truly live and breathe fishing it’s just a matter of wearing appropriate warm clothing and having a good headlamp to get around all the obstacles.

On recent trips out on the Cockburn and Peel rivers, we’ve found that the low water levels have extended the bite window for our native fish. Surface lures are still working very well while other presentations seem to go unnoticed. In particular, the 90mm surface paddlers from Legohead Lures have come through with spectacular results.

The breeding season for the Murray cod from the last 2-3 years seems to have been fruitful as we have been experiencing a great run of small fish in the 40-50cm bracket. It’s a great sign that they are breeding well in the system and that there are still some breading females doing their job.

The golden perch seem to have come to a complete halt for those casting from the banks. The bait anglers have been faring a little better for those fishing yabbies and worms north of town.


If you enjoy chasing redfin the cold snap seems to have them schooled up and hungry. Heading out towards Kentucky Creek or Malpas Dam around the Armidale region, chasing these delectable imports is a great way to get into lure fishing.

Malpas Dam is a family friendly area with many areas to set up for a picnic, and there is normally plenty of action to keep the kids entertained. A small ball sinker running straight down to a no. 8 worm hook baited with a few worms or a cooked prawn is almost a sure thing.

For those anglers who cast lures, anything with red of orange appeals very strongly to these introduced lure lovers. Small size 3 Celtas and shallow diving minnows have been the more productive lures of late, but soft plastics in the 2-3” sizes like the Mikado range of grubs have also caught their share. I like to rig my plastics weedless in many of the small dams as the thick vegetation around the edges can be a real pain with majority of lures if they don’t have some sort of weed guard.

If you have access to a kayak, Dumaresq Dam at Armidale is a great little dam and worth the effort in this cold weather. It’s only 12km out of town and isn’t a bad fishery if you ask me. It holds good numbers of rainbow trout and redfin but getting though the small fish can be an uphill battle at times.

Chaffey Dam

Firing or not firing, that is the question. Generally I don’t fish Chaffey Dam though the winter as its golden perch population slows down considerably, but recent reports indicate they have been explosive. One angler reported 15 yellowbelly in a single session, mostly taken around the edges where the Peel River runs into the dam. Trolling big hardbody lures in Chaffey also accounts for a handful of XOS cod each year but they are few and far between.

The silver perch are still around in numbers, most falling to worm baits around the weed. If you are targeting the silvers make sure you downsize your hooks as their small mouths are suited to worm hooks in sizes 10-14. The hooks still need to be strong though. These days I use Owner brand for the majority of my hooks as the quality is excellent and worth the extra money.

Lake Keepit

At last awake from its slumber, the recent rain has caused the fishing in Lake Keepit to come alive. Recently we hosted the Australian Yellowbelly Championships and it didn’t disappoint, with plenty of fish coming on the bite. Slow rolling plastics vertically around the trees was a great technique with Gulp 3” Grubs and Shrimp a great option to start with. Following the old river bed in 14m is a good way to locate the better concentrations of fish.

The big cod renowned for their winter assaults in the dam have so far been a no show, but so has the frost. Keep your eyes open as we superstitious fishermen have a saying: “if there’s frost on the ground, cod will be around.” Persistence will be the key to finding these fish so stick with it. Rewards will come. The edges of the dam around the back of Taylors Square are extremely shallow so be careful as there have been a few near misses and horror stories from a few unlucky anglers.

I’ll see you out on the water.

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