February to March is traditionally the wettest time of the year in the Canberra-Monaro district. Normally we get some brief showers, but often even more prolonged rain periods. Flooding is not uncommon. The extra water usually creates good fishing as conditions settle down, but more importantly it provides an opportunity for fish to migrate. A chance to move to better food supplies, to deeper water to provide shade and added protection, or a chance to meet a mate and breed are all factors that improve the fishing. All of our local fish are migratory to some extent and the added water simply facilitates their annual behaviour.
It is particularly important to understand these migratory movements and know how, when and where to fish for a particular species. Trout, for example, move from the lakes to rivers to spawn from May-September. Murray cod and golden perch move upstream in lakes and rivers to spawn in spring. They mostly return to the larger and deeper waterways in autumn – through March and April. Redfin are the odd one out as they tend to remain in the one habitat throughout the year but there are some minor movement as they shift from deeper to shallow water in hot weather.
Trout are spread nicely through the lakes and streams, providing a highly diversified fishery. In the streams they tend to follow a predictable daily pattern, with a pronounced morning and evening rise. They feed on a wide variety of insects but often focus on one particular species – when this is the case you have to match the prey to catch the fish. You may be able to do that with lures but flyfishing, with such a massive array of patterns available, offers better opportunity. If you are fishing the streams this month you could most usefully try a range of nymphs and adult versions of moths, beetles, ants, cicadas, flies and grasshoppers and be fairly confident of getting a strike.
In the lakes the same patterns may do the job but you are more likely to attract a fish with larger, more bulky patterns such as Mrs Simpson, Craigs Night-Time, Hamills Killer, Woolly Worm or Woolly Bugger. You might catch fish at any time during the day but the prime times are first thing in the morning, late afternoon and evening. Larger fish tend to be shy and stay deep during the day but commonly move into the shallows to feed on mudeyes and other insects washed ashore by the wind.
Murray cod are also well distributed in lakes and rivers at the moment and feed actively on fish such as redfin and carp, yabbies, shrimps and other creatures. There have been some great captures locally in recent weeks, including a 128cm fish from Googong on a spinnerbait for Sam Hancox, another of the same size for Josh Carmanan, an 80cm fish for Chris Skillin on a yabby in the Murrumbidgee River, fish of 114cm in Lake Ginndinderra, 119cm from Burrendong and 109cm and 124cm in Burrinjuck. It is indeed becoming the year of the cod. The larger fish are likely the result of good catch and release practise – the more often they are released, the bigger they are for the next angler.
If you want to maximise your chances of a cod you should try large deep divers and spinnerbaits. Learn to fish at night as well as during the day with these lures and try fishing with surface lures.
Golden perch feed heavily on yabbies, shrimps, small carp and redfin and take flies, lures and baits with gusto. As with cod, try a variety of small to medium deep divers, large bulky flies and soft plastics and concentrate on snags in both lake and stream. Day fishing is better than night but sometimes the ultra-large fish come on the bite after dark.
Redfin are peaking with activity. They have formed into large schools, and if you start by catching just one you can stir the school up and land cricket scores. Redfin are prolific breeders and need to be fished hard to keep the population in check. Try any lure that is noisy, bright and shiny for best results but worms can also be successful baits. Keep an eye open for a stray golden perch or Murray cod while fishing a school of redfin as they often hang around looking for a free feed of juicy fish flesh.Reads: 1202