Well at last all we trout freaks are content again! The 2007-08 season has opened again and with a bit of a bang rather than a whimper.
Reports from around the region’s streams suggest that the trout are keen to have a go provided anglers are prepared to fish the water thoroughly.
The past couple of seasons have not been the best but, across the Tablelands, fish have hung on throughout the dry. Luckily, many of the streams have received good though not consistent rain through the Winter which have kept things topped up. Ebor/Dorrigo has stayed in fine condition and the Walcha rivers also enjoyed a couple of decent floods over the chilly months.
While fish numbers are still not as high as in previous seasons, there are enough about.
Back in the late 1990s and early 2000, I fished a bit in fly competition. On a few occasions I was fortunate enough to represent NSW at the Australian championships and also worked as a volunteer at the World Fly Fishing Championships at Jindabyne. When time is short and you are allowed to fish only a defined stretch of river or lake, you quickly learn to fish water thoroughly.
Under the pressure and restrictions of competition you begin to fish water you normally would have skipped past. You learn to adapt to conditions and vary tactics as quickly as the situation demands.
I now carry such skills into my recreational angling and it has certainly improved as a result. So often, I see anglers walk a kilometre of stream picking the eyes out of the best trout water. When there are plenty of fish about that’s fine, but in tough years you can often come up short.
Next time you visit your local trout stream, give yourself a two-hour period to fish a section of no more than 500m of water. Change lures or flies as the water depth changes, alter your rigs as the situation demands; become an active stalker. I’ll bet you a pound to a pinch of rocking horse poop that on average you’ll pull fish out of places you’d never have thought about casting into.
Water levels over the next couple of months should be higher than normal as the late Spring/early Summer storms become more common. Take note if you’re about of an evening or at dusk because the snowflake caddis and mayfly hatches become prevalent.
Fly anglers fishing the Ebor streams would do well to search during quiet periods with a bright green nymph around size 14. Slightly weighted to trickle along the bottom, these imitate the exposed pupae of the snowflake caddis and trout love them. Alternatively, an Elk Hair Caddis or size 14 Brown Spinner will trick a trout or three during the evening rise.
Black mayflies tend to be more common around the upper Wollomombi catchment and down Walcha way.
Spring is also the season for the yabbies to emerge from their Winter hibernation and the trout in both areas are quick to target these. Woolly Buggers in size 8, stripped slowly, are the key here. Alternatively, shrimp are prevalent in the warmer western streams and a small green shrimp pattern is deadly. Lure flickers would do well with the likes of the old Rebel Crawdad or similar imitations.
The upper Macintyre River out Paradise way, near Inverell, is a fishery that yields its best action early in the season. The area can suffer from overfishing and hot spells as the season progresses so it’s often a case of first in, best dressed.
Regional impoundments should start to receive some stockings of native fish soon and these are essential components of rebuilding our dams over the drought. A Department of Primary Industries release recently outlined the proposed numbers of fingerling releases throughout the region and it looks as though plenty of fish are destined for the local dams. Hopefully the coming Summer will see good rain to top them up.
Prior to the cod season closing, some excellent big fish were taken, mainly from Copeton and Pindari dams. Thankfully, the word on the streets is that most fish were revived and released. The St. Kilda Hotel Fisherama is totally catch-and-release this year, which I believe was a tremendous step following similar changes to competitions held at nearby Copeton.
Most keen local bassers should be starting to get out and about. The Macleay River had a cracking flood in late August which apparently cleaned up a heap of the weed and also joined up pools which for some time have been isolated. The warming water will see the shrimp and crickets getting about (bass love ’em both) so I expect the fish to be active.
Spin anglers cannot go past the Rebel Crawdad at this time of year. I prefer something with a sprinkle of hot orange, particularly if Spring storms colour up the water. Fly fishers should probably stick to wets such as Woolly Buggers or small mullet imitations. Give it another month or so before switching to the topwaters, although I have been wrong in the past.
This month I’d still be targeting bass in the middle reaches of the Macleay around Comara or Bellbrook. It will probably be another month before the gorges kick into action big-time. If the water clears and stays that way, switching to fresh shrimp under a bubble float on dark is a great option.
This Spring offers anglers who are prepared to fish it out plenty of opportunity for some great sport. I intend to get out a lot more this season, maybe I’ll see you out there.Reads: 748