Big topwater cod month
  |  First Published: May 2016

May is the real start of the big cod on surface season at Copeton. As the water cools and overnight temperatures start to drop towards zero, the big fish come out to play!

Let’s have a closer look at this fantastic fishery. First thing to consider is that the Copeton winter cod bite is all about big fish, it is unusual to catch fish under 70cm and you will regularly tangle with fish over a metre and potentially even larger.

Now is the time to check line loads, upgrade leaders and retro-fit super strong hooks to your big surface lures. Most of the local anglers are fishing 30-50lb braid with 40-60lb leader, and this will most often be mono. Fluorocarbon sinks and can dampen the action of your surface lures.

There are a number of connections that can be used between braid and leader, so try and use the smoothest that you are confident in tying – there is a lot of casting in this fishery. The FG knot is very good, and if you jump on the internet and search ‘quickest or simplest way to tie FG knot’, you will find details on what I think is the best connection for this job.

You are now ready to attach your surface lure of choice, and this can be done one of two ways; a clip or a knot. A clip allows quick lure changes, whereas a well tied loop knot is the most secure. I have been using a Lefty’s Loop knot for years and it has never let me down. I have also used some very good clips over the years with those made by Halco being some of the best.

For fishing surface lures, I stick with a good loop knot. Before you tie that lure on, you should think about upgrading the hooks to the sharpest you can find in at least 2x strong. We are currently using ST56 Owners with excellent results, but Mustard also have some good looking new hooks out that should fit the bill.

It is also worth thinking about the style of outfit you use to target these fish. A lot of anglers are now switching to spin outfits as they can make casting some of the really big surface lures easier. Look for a rod rated at around 6-10kg and between 1.8-2.1m in length.

There are also some purpose designed baitcasting rods coming onto the market, so have a look at Wilson’s new Venom range. There are some cracking rods for casting and fishing the super-sized surface lures that are used on Copeton’s mega cod, including a seven footer rated at 8kg, and a 6ft model rated at PE3-6.

It pays to remember that from now on, the cod will be mainly hunting the edges, and this means at times they will be in as little as a few feet of water. If fishing from a boat, the idea is to cast right in close to the edge and work your lures back to the boat.

The other sign that you are in the right area is surface activity. This is small fish breaking the surface, and they could be redfin, silver perch or even smaller yellowbelly that appear to be feeding on some sort of emerging insect. This is why the cod are in these areas. It seems that at this time of year, if they are going to expend energy to feed they want a full meal, and not a snack. Last winter, I had a fish of about 30kg spit out a catfish over a foot long as it was being bought into the bank to be released.

One issue this year will be the weed beds around a lot of the shoreline. Copeton doesn’t normally have a lot of weed due to the constantly changing water levels. The dam has spent the last 12 months or more between 16-24% and this has allowed the weed to establish around the shallower banks. At the moment the weed extends out about 10-20m, and the outside edge will be an area to concentrate on this year, but it will restrict the areas we can fish from the banks.

This activity happens mainly around the new moon at Copeton, although last month a lot of fish were caught leading up to the full moon. It just goes to show that you should get out and fish whenever you can because there are no hard and fast rules in fishing.

• Copeton Dam is one of the best lakes in NSW to catch a trophy Murray cod. Dave runs the Copeton Waters Holiday Park and is a great source of up to date, local information on what’s biting. Contact the park on (02) 6723 6269 for information and accommodation bookings.

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