March would have to be one of the best times of year to go camping on the Central Table Lands of NSW. The heat of summer has passed, and cool nights are made warm and toasty with the glowing embers and heat from the fire. The smell of hearty camp oven cooking will hopefully fill the nostrils; it could be a damper, or a bubbling stew, a mixture, or a broth to be shared among family and friends. This is what makes my March.
Changes underwater are a little slow off the mark, compared to happenings above water. The thermal mass of water is not as quick to change compared to air temperature, so for the most part you will see summer fishing patterns continue until later in the month, especially in the dams.
Weather systems are usually pretty stable as well at this time of year so patterning fish from day to day on a trip away can be quite easy. Basically, if you caught them there on a particular day at such a time, then chances are that’s where they will be the next day.
Chasing bigger than average redfin is a real challenge in some of the local dams like Ben Chifley Dam near Bathurst and Carcoar Dam near Blayney. The small fish are great fun, especially for the kids, but after a while you just yearn for something bigger. The colder months of winter is one sure way to cut out the numbers and increase the size, but it’s freezing, and not for the faint-hearted.
After quite a few years chasing them, you do come up with a few little tricks that work on bigger fish. Sounder technology has definitely helped in this regard, and if you cannot see a bigger fish on the sounder screen, don’t drop the jig, just keep moving if you want bigger fish.
Like most species of schooling fish, bigger redfin adopt different habits to the run of the mill, school-sized critters. First of all there are less of them, a lot less. They hang out in loose groups; small wolf packs is a good way of describing them. There’s usually about 5-6 large individuals that work together for maximum effect.
I think they do become a little less pelagic in nature and more prone to patrolling major break lines in depths, old creek beds and gullies and ambush feeding on the hordes of smaller redfin in late summer.
Finesse fishing is still very important, as leader and line selection plays a vital role in getting your jig to the bottom quickly into sighted fish on the sounder. Once on the bottom, line control can play a big part, as you want some contact with the lure, but not too much – it’s a fine line (no pun intended). They love to hit the lure on the drop, so watch and feel the line.
Lure selection, especially in deeper water, often calls for something heavy and compact such as blades, ice jigs, spoons, lead head jigs and cut down plastics. You will mostly fish straight under the boat. If blind searching in deep water, cast along drop-offs and creek beds with heavy lipless crankbaits or compact heavy single willow blade spinnerbaits.
It’s been a cracker season to date, and it will be interesting to watch the social media pages, magazines and the like for what might turn up in the next month or so in local dams such as Wyangala, Windamere and Burrendong. More people are targeting bigger cod, and it’s really showing in catch rates. Upsize your lures, lines, leaders and rods, and think about what areas to target. Being more specific about what you do. It’s great to see and very good for the tackle industry as a whole.
Good handling techniques of bigger fish is still a little lacking in the community (I too am guilty). I had a very interesting talk with a good mate of mine Rodger Miles from Cod Hunter Fishing Tours recently, and Rodger has seen and caught a lot of big cod, his passion for the fish is unquestionable. With some of the lures we see today catching fish from depths in our impoundments and deeper rivers that even five years ago where unheard of, are we doing the right thing taking these fish to the bank and releasing them in shallow water? At some times of the year it may make little difference, but Rodger alerted me to the fact that in very early summer and again in early autumn, we should probably release the fish back into the depth that they were caught from as quickly as possible via the means a of release weight, to avoid the effects of thermal shock. It’s an interesting subject and one I think we should all be aware of.
Hope to see you on the water soon. Until then, tight lines.Reads: 490