They don’t call it the silly season for nothing! Water activities on the bigger lakes in the district reach fever pitch during the holiday season, and it’s easy to get caught up in it all and maybe get a little frustrated. There are some measures you can take to ensure a smooth day out on the water. Get up super early to avoid the boat traffic, as some recreational water users enjoy a sleep-in in the morning. Quite often you can get a good few hours in before the melee starts. Early morning is the best time to be on the water at this time of year anyway; with a cooler night and a drop in activity on the water, fish are encouraged to resume normal activities. Night sessions are something that many anglers also enjoy.
We all have one or two hidden gems in our fishing destination kitty, and January is a great time of year to visit them. The backwaters of Wyangala and Burrendong offer some great boating and camping options. Although it does take a little extra planning, these spots are well worth the effort, especially for an extended stay. Apart from a little extra food, you can take the same amount of gear whether you’re staying for two nights or five.
Taking a backpacker’s approach is best – only take what you really need. I find it best to do up a list and work through it; it’s amazing what you can do without. Always keep in mind what could happen, as distance from civilisation can make a difficult situation worse. Good advice is to carry things such as a spare prop or shear pin.
Canoe and kayak water is awesome fun at this time of year, with rivers such as the Macquarie and the Lachlan offering some great drift options. The use of stock routes on these rivers allows you to drift between two cars with a camp riverside for two or three nights. It pays to know the river heights on some stretches, and you can monitor this online. Once you have a good idea of water level or flow releases from the dams you can decide whether to embark on a trip. Get it wrong and you could be dragging boats and pushing over logs, or at the other end of the scale getting pushed into banks and logs in high current. A bank-side car and camping trip is a good start to this sort of adventure; take notes, and use your phone (if service permits) to get the latest river level updates, check out drop-off and pick up points, and always keep in mind the lazy kilometres of a river.
Water clarity may not always be good in this water. Depending on flows, baitfishing is a great fallback option and you can spend relaxed, lazy afternoons under river red gums, watching and listening to nature at work. Carp are prolific in these waters and can be great fun to catch if the golden perch and cod do not respond. Baits such as worms and shrimp will do wonders, and if the water clarity allows and you are handy with the long wand, flyfishing for them is top notch. Small woolly buggers, soft hackle wets, and in some cases a well presented dry fly can be skipped off the surface, the big ones will have you into the backing in no time.
I was delighted to hear about Peter’s victory in the ABT Bass Pro grand final a month or so back. I don’t know Peter but when I heard about his victory on the back of skirted jigs I was stoked. For those of you that follow my writing you will know that I have been jabbering on about them for quite some time. If memory serves, Peter Dolan was the last guy to mention them in a tournament wrap and that’s going way back! It was interesting to talk to Phelps about the similarities and differences between what he has found with the bass and my experiences with golden perch, there is a whole lot more to be discovered about skirted jigs and with Peter’s win I know that more people will be tying them on and hopefully catching fish on them. Like any lure fishing technique there is a time and a place where they work the best, working that out is half the fun I reckon! It also gives everyone an excuse to buy more stuff!
Hope to see you on the water soon, until then tight lines.Reads: 342