If the cold weather is really going to come then this is the month. Until now conditions throughout the Tablelands have continued to be relatively warm compared with past seasons. Sure, we’ve had our share of minus nights but the days continue on the whole to be comfortable. So what has this meant for the fishing?
Up on the high country, cod continue to be responsive to most tactics. I’m still hearing of nice fish savaging slowly rolled lures, particularly in the Deepwater and Inverell regions.
Normally at this time of year most educated cod chasers have headed west out onto the low-lying rivers of the plains. There, chill nights combined with clear water add up to big-fish time.
During mid-Winter conditions, flashy spinnerbaits and deep-diving minnows are out of place. Canny anglers will have switched to big medium-diving lures with a pronounced wide, rolling action.
Muted or natural colours are the better choice and you wouldn’t be out of place here employing large rubber tails rigged on lighter jig heads. The large resin heads often favoured by some saltwater anglers are a rig well worth exploiting.
Another great alternative is to combine a Mustad Finacky worm hook with a large, neutral-coloured soft plastic stickbait. Slug-Gos, such as those favoured by saltwater kingfish chasers, are ideal.
The lightly-weighted offerings sink slowly, allowing you to work them through the shallow snags more confidently. If the fish are slow and the conditions not too bright, slide a small gold spinner blade onto the hook before adding the plastic imitation.
A canoe or even a small tinny will greatly assist in working the bigger holes although at this time most are often not connected by deep flows.
Bank access may be more difficult with the lower water levels and for this reason I know a few locals now using medium-sized inflatables. Take care, though: It becomes quite an adventure when attempting to handle a solid cod from a blow-up donut!
For those seeking less adventurous pursuits, redfin become the Winter target of choice. Strolling the banks with a light spin stick and a box of lures is a very civilised way to enjoy mid-Winter angling.
Redfin are suckers for bladed lures and the addition of a small skirt or feather hackle to the trebles will greatly increase your success. Red and yellow combinations or those using green and black are equally successful.
Size 3 Celtas are a great choice, as are the old Worden’s Rooster Tails if you can still find then. Rooster Tails have a faster sink rate than Celtas and hence are ideal in the bigger holes.
The stretch upstream of Bundarra, on the Gwydir River, has been fishing reasonably well. Equally so, I’ve heard of some terrific redfin being taken in the reed-choked stretches of the Beardy Waters, out of Glen Innes.
Those hardy anglers heading out onto the lakes at this time of year will do well to be rugged up. The winds we generally receive later this month and into August can be very cool so take warm gear and a thermos of something warming.
Copeton Dam is still probably the best option at present. Casting lures from boats around the exposed structure is the best bet.
Trolling runs are limited and in most cases the fish will be sitting tight against the drowned timber and granite outcrops. When the days are warm, the rock outcrops seem to absorb more heat and hold it, a factor which may well encourage fish to hold close.
Medium-sized paddletail soft plastics are an excellent choice and, rigged with hook points up, allow you to get right into the structure with fewer time-consuming snags. Give consideration to the tactics mentioned for rivers and use slow-sinking lure combos. Often the weight of the soft plastic on a headless jig is enough.
Anglers who decide to troll have two options. Focusing upon the old river bed will usually put you onto the deeper water and best success is achieved here with large lures. I suggest you consider crimping down the barbs on larger hardware associated with big lures. It certainly assists penetration into the bony mouths of a big cod and also helps in ‘jigging’ a snagged lure free of drowned timber.
Alternatively, medium-sized spinnerbaits with small Colorado blades can be an excellent choice if you follow the contour of the shallows and deeper water. A sounder certainly helps here but with practice you can follow a trolling run by eye, just focus on the gradient of the surrounding shoreline.
Line weights should be scaled up when trolling or casting on the dams and you should be fishing tackle around 8kg. Fish will mostly be hitting not far from cover and you’ll need to be quick to horse them out.
Alternatively, if you are passing through, don’t forget to give Dumaresq Dam, outside Armidale, a toss. The dam is only 15 minutes’ drive from town and this old impoundment really can fire during the Winter when the weed beds die off and the water clears up.
Boating is allowed although motors must be electric. A small canoe is useful and if you’re in the area they may be hired for a nominal charge from Armidale Outdoors in Rusden Street or by phoning 02 7672 7744.
Bass, rainbow trout and redfin are all on the menu at this tiny public lake and the picturesque timbered surrounds make it an attractive angling option.
So there are plenty of options during the slow Winter months up this way. It’s very much a matter of buying a good coat and getting out there!Reads: 4158