Winter days up here in the ranges are often magnificent and walking the creeks and ridges is very pleasant – it’s just the nights that demand big coats and a crackling fire!
In the last issue I made mention of the National Parks and Wildlife Service closures of Carters Road access onto the Chandler River and upper Macleay. Following a meeting to clarify the situation it appears that better access and facilities are to be developed at a neighbouring location so that the river will remain open. This is great news, as I mentioned there are limited opportunities for visitors to access our gorges by vehicle. As the development takes shape I’ll be posting further information.
With the closure of the season this month it is a case of be quick or miss out. The 2006-7 trout season was not one of the best, for sure, but despite the big dry the fishery has held on reasonably well.
Most keen trout fishos did pick up some good action and the key to success was walking into the backblocks. Keep an eye out for the September issue of NSWFM where we will be doing a big lowdown on where and how to target New England’s best trout action.
The days of picking up a few fish adjacent to the road crossings are long gone. It will be a season or two before things get back to normal but I believe that 2007-8 should be a vast improvement.
The Winter layover period is a great time to get out the maps and start scouting for new season prospects. Here’s a hint – look for streams that are well shaded and vegetated or which run through small gorge country – waterfalls are a dead giveaway.
The rivers have certainly gone quiet at last. However, there’s still a couple of months before the cod season closure and if you can brave the Winter nights there is some good sport to be had.
This period is often best fished from a boat or canoe, drifting a fresh yabby or shrimp bunch. Wood grubs are a great Winter bait if you can get them legally or try one of the modern soft plastic imitations. The plastic versions are preferable if you intend to cast and retrieve from the bank because they obviously hold together better.
The middle reaches of the Gwydir, Severn and Macintyre rivers would be well worth exploring. Alternatively, take a drive way out west to the Barwon. In years past mid-Winter trips out to the ‘flatlands’ were a regular on the year planner for older anglers, who will remember good times.
Certainly the water these days is at critical levels but if you take the time to look around there are still some big holes.
As regional dam waters begin to cool off, the fish start to shut down. Lure casting and trolling tend to be the least successful strategies with drifting fresh shrimp baits the pick of it.
Drifting adjacent to shallows with a stand of drowned timber is the ticket because such areas tend to hold warmer water. Try holding out til late afternoon, when waters have further warmed and food items become more active.
Flicking live shrimp with minimal weight on the line is the go. A small electric motor is very handy to adjust your drift and keep a good line. A drogue (smaller version of a sea anchor) is a great addition on windy days and in future issues I’ll be giving you the plans for constructing your own. They are simple and cheap to make and every tinnie should have one.
Small yellowbelly have been running hot and cold at Lake Keepit although I’ve heard of a few late-season fish coming from the bridge crossing downstream of the wall. Within the main basin you’re pretty limited in scope but search out the old river channel and work along the ‘shoulder’ of the shallows.
Copeton is still low but some anglers continue to find the action. Give the bait drifting a go or fish medium soft plastics, shallow and very slow. The lower end of Copeton seems to be the pick at present, especially around the trees.
With the bass action virtually shut down, most anglers turn their attention to other pursuits. That said, I know a few keen boys who still sneak about the gorges through the Winter months with surprising success. The result is often few fish but those that are hooked tend to be quite sizeable.
Still, if bass are your thing I’d probably be heading north of the border or south to Glenbawn chasing Winter smelters.
Winter is the slowest time for the Tablelands when it comes to fishing. Even so, there is plenty of options to wet a line.
Next month I’ll be giving you a run-down on the best options for private trout fisheries on the Tablelands, as well as a couple of public waters that are not common knowledge. Til then, rug up!Reads: 562