Trout fishing has picked up nicely in the Canberra-Monaro district in recent weeks, providing a pleasant contrast to the poor fishing experienced early in the season.
Intermittent rainstorms right across the region have added just enough water to the large and small streams to keep a reasonable flow going, and as discolouration clears there has been some good fly and lure fishing.
The small streams between Canberra and Tumut in particular have fished well, with enough moderate-sized browns and rainbows to make a day or weekend trip worthwhile. Some of the larger streams also have been productive, with reasonable-sized browns and rainbows in the Moonbah, Yarrangobilly, upper Murrumbidgee and the Tumut.
The most successful lures have been small Celtas, Imp spoons, Mepps spinners, Strike Pro, Rapala and Halco minnows and blades. Fly patterns have varied on the day, but successful ones include Hare and Copper nymph, black and red Matukas, stonefly, small dark beetles, Nymbeet, Hairwing Coachman and Klinkhammer. Early mornings have been the most productive, but on some overcast days there was a chance of a fish rising at any time.
A few grasshoppers have been sighted, but it looks to be a poor season for ’hoppers generally and the big yellow ones in particular. Normally at this stage of the summer the plague grasshoppers are around in great numbers, but they just haven't shown this season. A few fish have been taken by bait fishers using the scarce green ’hoppers that can be caught on the stream bank when their wings are still wet in the early morning. The preferred technique is to impale the insect with a small hook through the carapace or shoulder, then float it downstream on its own or with a small bubble float. On the day, especially when nothing else works, it can be a deadly technique.
Some of the larger lakes also have yielded some nice fish. Bait fishers have taken small to moderate rainbows on scrubworms and PowerBait. The rainbows have mostly been those from the most recent hatchery stockings and are about 30cm long, but there is another batch that weigh about 1.5kg. Curiously, too, some hefty browns have been taken on PowerBait, which they don't normally like very much. One angler at Jindabyne took browns to 1.8kg on Lime Twist PowerBait on 3 separate trips, and at Eucumbene another angler using the same bait landed a brown weighing over 2.5kg.
Scrub worms have still been the dominant bait for both browns and rainbows, and some nice fish have been taken late in the day and at night.
Mudeyes have shown in great numbers in recent weeks. The larval mudeyes crawl ashore at night and climb up the nearest object (including anglers!), to shed their skin and hatch into damsel and dragonflies. Trout dearly love mudeyes, so if you see an area with plenty of husks where the creatures have been hatching, that could be the place to fish the following night. You can use live mudeyes with a waggler or bubble float, or fly fish with imitations such as Craigs Nighttime, Mrs Simpson, or an endless array of fur and fibre models.
The urban lakes have fished well, with hordes of redfin for anyone who chucks in a lure or bait, and enough golden perch and Murray cod to make serious bait and lure fishing worthwhile.
Golden perch have been taken on scrub worms, yabbies, and on spinnerbaits and deep divers. Most of the fish have been in the 30-45cm range, but occasional larger specimens have been taken. Normally 1-3 fish can be expected in any one location, but recently 2 anglers fished under the Dairy Flat road bridge upstream from Lake Burley Griffin and caught and released 13 fish in a session.
Some nice Murray cod also have been taken. Matt McCauley landed the largest, a 107cm specimen, which took a worm in Lake Ginninderra. The fish took 45 minutes to land on 3.6kg line, but was still in good condition when it was photographed and released. It is thought to be the largest or second largest cod ever landed in Ginninderra.
Burrinjuck has dropped to about 45 per cent of capacity as water is bled off for downstream irrigation. The fishing has declined accordingly. Nevertheless, some good cod and plenty of golden perch are being taken during the day and at night.
Tim from Wagga has the best cod to date, a 124cm specimen which took a large AC Invader well after dark. Other cod have been taken on spinnerbaits and an array of deep divers.
A number of large cod, some well over 1m in length, have been found dead in the reservoir, prompting local Fisheries Inspector Tony Day to call for anglers to be more careful when handling fish for photography and release. The correct procedure is to cradle them in both arms to ensure minimal damage to the spine, not hoist them up by the head and gill plates in the old heroic ‘big fish’ pose. Even better, leave them in the water whilst being unhooked.
This is the old way we used to show off a big Murray cod until we realised the risk of damage we might be doing to the fish’s spine.
This is a safer way to show off a big cod; supporting it with both hands to minimise damage to the spine and the skin. This fish is the 107cm cod Matt McCauley caught recently in Lake Ginninderra.
It's even better to leave a big cod in the water for trophy photographs whilst unhooking it. If you can't get a decent photograph, gently tow the fish to shallow water where it is easier to get a good picture.
Fly fishing for Murray cod is an interesting and testing challenge. Dave Eals was pleased with this little fellow — his first-ever on fly and caught in one of Canberra's urban lakes.Reads: 460