If you get up early enough you can feel the frost coming down. The frost reaches into exposed areas high up in the mountains, you feel it first on rosy red cheeks and exposed ears as you throw the frozen hard flap of the swag back, a quick glimpse over at the fire for any sign of warmth before venturing out and waiting impatiently for the jug to boil and the coffee to brew.
I have always been an early bird, and take great pleasure in seeing and feeling the first rays of a warm sun as it hits high up in the hills, the crunch of frosty grass under your feet as you make your way to water, the hidden fishy secrets yet to be revealed are laid out before you, it’s just great to be alive!
With the continual drop in overnight air temperatures, surface water temperatures will drop fast, in some cases this can end the life cycles of many underwater critters and force others into hibernation. I guess for the fish it’s a bit like your favourite meal being removed from the restaurant menu – they are forced to change habits, move and adjust.
Flyfishers can get away with a sleep-in at this time of year, especially by the river or creek. The penetrating rays of the sun into the water will trigger any lingering hatches of insects, and the trout can be super aggressive moving many meters to a well presented dry.
The local trout lakes and dams are a little bit tougher when it comes to a hatch driven bite, but definitely not out of the question. The weedy margins in Thompsons Creek Dam and Lake Wallace can and do produce insect hatches, and any trout in close proximity will take advantage of them. This is usually a brief burst of activity with one or two fish cashing in on the meal. It’s a case of covering ground and keeping your eyes peeled for opportunities that present, whether it’s a sighted fish in close or a rising fish out a little wider.
I am looking forward to seeing what might turn up in cod waters such as Wyangala, Burrinjuck, Blowering, Mulwala and even Windamere this coming autumn and winter.
We are at the tip of a very big swimbait iceberg, but this style of fishing won’t be for everyone, it won’t be a fish numbers game that’s for sure! To start, it’s very physical, and throwing 3-6oz swimbaits on big gear continually for hours, takes some effort. Anglers may also stall at the expense of some lures, upwards of $70 in some cases. Add to that the rods and reels required to heave such large offerings will be a major turnoff for some. Me, well I haven’t been able to get to the shops quick enough – although supply and supply lines are very limited at the moment, savvy shop owners with their fingers on the pulse will do a roaring trade in the right areas. All I can say is if your local shop is a bit reluctant, keep on the case.
For regular readers of my column you will have been well aware of my battle with impoundment bass in the timber the last couple of months, very brief encounters with junkyard bass that give no quarter. I rarely look back in this column, preferring to look into my crystal ball for future happenings. So please excuse me while I drop back into reverse gear
In late February I was able to get some revenge, with a 51cm fork length bass in prime condition. It will go down as one of those angling moments that you carry with you until moving onto the big lake in the sky, it wasn’t just the size of the fish but the circumstance and tackle it was caught on.
I’d had three tough sessions with very little reward, so I moved the boat into tiger country, and used 17lb braid and a 20lb leader fished on a baitcaster. This setup is minimal for this water, and some guys use 20lb braid and 25lb leader – I kid you not. A small stretch of water maybe 20m long came into view that was just slightly more open. It was make or break time! I picked up the finesse spin gear 4lb braid 5lb Toray LEX leader, and threw out my lure, chastising myself all the while as the lure in use was one of three limited edition samples and this was the first time I’d fished it.
The crunch was unmistakable, three turns of the handle away from a watery timber home, no doubt stacked to the rafters with expensive Japanese offerings from past encounters – as usual I was in trouble straight away. The bass turned and surged straight back home, straight back through the front door, down the hallway and out the back door!
I dropped an index finger down onto the spool of the little 1500 Stella, I was half stooped over, it probably would have been easier if I had just dropped to my knees (god knows I needed a little divine intervention) when the bass stopped, turned and came straight back at me. I could feel and see black wattle sticks moving on his return journey, at the same time I knew what was coming. The counter attack was brutal, a fast furious run that just didn’t want to stop. Gingerly I dropped an index finger back down onto the spool, the whole time knowing full well where and what he was headed to – drowned black wattle 20m from the boat. I am not sure if it was index finger pressure on the side of the spinning spool or the fact that he didn’t quite make it to his outhouse stash of timber and didn’t know what to do next but I had managed to do the impossible, keeping a low rod angle with short pumps upwards I began to get some line back, the adrenalin was surging through me, I had totally forgotten about my fishing partner, but could now see that he had the net out. Despite a few short runs to the bottom I could finally breathe a little easier, with the fish in the net and on the deck I let out a war cry to the heavens.
The score is still very much in the bass’ favour, but for a short moment in time I was able to get on top and win. Hope to see you all on the water soon, until then tight lines.Reads: 527