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Light amid the desperation
  |  First Published: September 2007



It is historical fact that September is the month to celebrate the birthday of American outlaw and desperado Jesse James. It is also historical fact that September is a month of desperation for New England anglers.

Of all the months, September marks a virtual shut-down in piscatorial action on the Tablelands. The cod and trout seasons are closed, the bass don’t want to know about us and the yellowbelly simply couldn’t give a dam (pun intended).

So what does an angler do up here in the beautiful heart of northern NSW? Cleaning gear for the Spring season is a necessary chore, albeit boring. The redfin continue to provide interesting sport in reed-choked backwaters but overall it’s pretty quiet.

However, there is some light on the horizon in the form of our excellent regional pay fisheries. Last month I gave you a run-down on Uncle Billy’s Retreat near Guyra. If I haven’t told you before and you enjoy chasing tricky trout, then do yourself a favour and give the place a shot. It is that good.

This month I’d like to cover another private trout lake, down Walcha way. Make no mistake, I don’t have shares in any of these fisheries, I just find them solid venues for keen fishos to enjoy their sport in some of the State’s best places with some of the State’s nicest people.

Lochlorian has been an exciting venue for many years. The lake, which covers about 12 acres, is pretty and holds substantial numbers of fit and active trout. Dale and Gale Brazel are consummate hosts with a discreet attitude to running the lodge.

The beautiful chalet-style cabin can accommodate up to six anglers in comfort. Twelve-volt solar power and gas ensure that even when Winter rears its ugly head, you’ll be toasty-warm.

Last month I ducked down for an afternoon to grab some pics of the lodge for this article. As you would expect, I put in an hour just on dark with the fly rod. At 4.15pm my rod guides were freezing up solid and sago snow still lay thick behind the tussocks.

I did manage to lift a couple of tidy rainbows by dead-drifting some small Pheasant Tail Nymphs and missed another couple. However, when the proverbial hits the weather fan, be sure the accommodation is comfortable enough for a Winter stay.

The lake lies about an hour north of Tamworth or slightly east of Walcha on the Thunderbolts Way. The venue is very kid-friendly and would make a tremendous destination for a fishing club or family outing.

Fly anglers will enjoy some excellent options with small nymph and midge patterns the better choices during Winter when the waters are often at their clearest. Personal favourites are Pheasant Tails and generic seal’s fur patterns.

Most of the lake is relatively shallow, which contributes to the abundant food options. Booby Flies tied in natural colours and fished on a sink-tip line will also pick up cruising trout during the day.

During the colder months, trout here move slowly and inspect every offering. Fish small and fine and you should hook some beauties keen to dance and play.

Similarly, spin anglers would do well to consider dead-drifting a weighted fly beneath a clear bubble float. If you prefer more active angling, then working small Celtas through the shallows on a short line should bring a rainbow or two to the bank.

Winter trout angling on the Tablelands is often focused on our private lakes. The fees really are very nominal for the service and amenities provided. I have regular weekends booked throughout the closed season when, with a few good mates, the Winter drinks and crackling fires dominate the cooler nights.

Rainbows keen to take the fly are common in these small impoundments so get up here and give it a go. For further details on tariffs and availability at Lochlorian, give Dale or Gale a call on 02 6769 2335.

UP CLOSE

With only a month before the trout stream season reopens, it is worth quickly considering Spring tactics in our regional creeks. Again, I’d suggest you put your early-season efforts in to the east of Armidale. The upper Wollomombi catchment and Ebor will again be the best of it.

Spin anglers would do well to leave their Celtas and so on at home and, given that it is unlikely rivers will be running high early, adopt the following tactic. Get yourself a cheap spin rod a couple of metres long.

Why cheap, you ask? Basically, modern soft plastic and jigging trends have seen too much focus on stiff-actioned rods; shop cheap and you’ll get the ‘noodle’ stick we need. Couple it with a small threadline and line no heavier than 2kg.

Next, attach at the terminal end a 1/64oz size 8 plain ball jig head. If you have trouble locating these, tell your local tackle shop that an excellent jig is available through EJ Todd. Dress the jig with a 1” single-tail soft plastic – I favour the Wilson Double Strikes. Hot pink is a great colour option early in the season when fish have the spawning focus.

The tactic is to cast into every tiny run and eddy using the flexible nature of the rod to assist in placing the jig at short range. You may use the rod to ‘bunny-hop’ the jig on a downstream drift or simply leave the bail arm open and watch your offering race down the fast water.

This rig and tactic combo is deadly on Ebor trout and the lightweight rig allows you to target pockets traditionally only the domain of fly anglers.

In many early season runs the waters are still too low for exploration by more traditional spinner or lure combinations!

Most fly anglers will enjoy great early-season action with small dries such as the Elk Hair Caddis and Red Tag. Fish on light leaders such as 2kg and get in close to obvious holding lies such as the heads of runs and tail-outs.

You’ll probably find the fish a little sluggish to take so hold back and strike a little later than normal.

Move slowly and keep low and you’ll be surprised how close you can get to our backcountry rainbows if you just take the time. I guarantee that if you fish a couple of hundred metres of water thoroughly, you’ll catch more trout than your mates who walked 2km. Trust me, it works!

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