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Spring season jitters
  |  First Published: September 2014



Early spring can be a frustrating time to fish the Central Tablelands of NSW. You can get a little taste of the warmth ahead, then a big cold front from down south pushes up and rips it out from under you.

Wild fluctuations in the weather can create opportunities though. Rapid rises in the barometer can have early season golden perch on the chew in Windamere, and the ensuing days of stable high pressure and sunlight can have fish moving to the banks to soak up some heat.

Gently sloping northern facing banks that are exposed to the most sunlight will be your best bet. Pockets of remanent weed and some patchy algae growth on the bottom can hold small shrimp, baitfish and the like. These critters are drawn to the warmth, and the golden perch follow.

SHOW US YA SKIRT

Slow moving lures and baits are the key to success. Skirted jigs have been a standout performer for me over the last few years, and smaller models aimed at the American small-mouth bass market are the go. Head weights from 8-12g are about right. Most come with some form of weed guard, and I trim them off flush with the head as most of them are too stiff and affect the hook-up ratio. Skirt materials and colours are not that important although the darker colours might have an edge. Adding soft plastic trailers can add movement and scent, and I also go the extra step of adding some form of scent to the skirt and trailer on every half dozen or so casts.

Fishing these jigs requires a particular mindset. You have to concentrate on every retrieve to get the most out of them. It’s amazing the feedback you can get telegraphed up the rod to your hands and fingers via the head of the jig, the leader and the braided line. After some practice you will feel the difference between soft bottom, hard bottom, rocks (big and small), gravel, timber, weed, and of course fish. Bottom contact is very important at this time of year (less so as the water warms).

The bites or hits can come at any time so line watching is important on the drop. Try to maintain some form of loose contact as the jig falls. Bites can be quite subtle when the jig is resting on the bottom, or vicious as you pull or pop the jig off the bottom.

Early on in the season there is no such thing as too slow. Experiment with your retrieves, but be warned it can be very addictive! As the season gets into gear and water temps start to warm the skirted jig bite will slow, and other options will catch more fish. However, but for a short period the skirted jig is king.

COD OFF THE AGENDA

With the cod season now closed until December 1, those with the addiction have time to take a breath. Late August often turns up some quality fish and I hope you managed to get a few.

One noteworthy capture back in late July was caught on fly, and the fish measured in at around 85cm. I don’t normally like to look back in my columns but this fish is worth a mention. Peter ‘Bagsy’ Harahan was the angler, and I’m not that surprised at his great capture as Peter is about as hard-core a fly angler as you would ever meet. He gets many notable captures at times of year that would have many of us scratching our heads.

LATE SEASON SPAWNERS

Rainbow trout can still be in spawning mode in September, especially early in the month. Thompsons Creek Dam (TCD) has been a mecca for many anglers over the winter months, and for good reason – there have been some great fish caught. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea though. You have to wait your turn, practically getting in a queue on some days to have a crack. To say it’s been busy up there would be an understatement… on some weekends the carpark has been full to overflowing.

The rainbow trout false spawn on shallow gravel points that are exposed to the wind. For most anglers it can be quite frustrating casting at these fish in full view for no result, but a few things can put the odds in your favour. Fistly, fish it mid-week and get there very early. Flyfishing for these fish is possibly the best option with a weighted glow bug and a trailing nymph, and you should stay low and watch the fish closely for any reaction strike or adjust your presentation accordingly.

Spin fishers don’t totally miss out either. Very small weighted soft plastics or feathered jigs account for quite a few fish as well. A hint of bright orange in your plastic or feathered jig can be a good trigger.

I hope to see you on the water soon. Until then, tight lines.

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