Chase your dream fish over winter
  |  First Published: June 2016

Shiver with cold and excitement as winter is here and it’s big fish time. If you ever want to live your big Murray cod dream, then now is the time to be at Copeton.

Now that the overnight temperatures are dropping to well below 0°C, bigger Cod will be looking for bigger food items. At this time they are willing to expend energy hunting large prey items, so big lures are the go. Last week one of my staff members found a little area, in the back of a bay where water had been cut off from the rest of the dam, that was full of goldfish/common carp. I have seen these in the dam to 30cm+ and weighing up to 1kg. I wonder if these may be the fish we see rising and broaching on the surface when the big Cod are on the chew. I also think now that there may be a much bigger population of these in Copeton than we have ever realised.

As part of this big fish phenomenon, I will be running a competition through our Facebook page to find the biggest Cod to be caught on Copeton Dam between 1 May 2016 and 30 November 2016. The fish will have to be caught in Copeton Dam and must be photographed on an approved measuring mat, clearly showing the entire fish and length in millimetres. If required, authentication of the date and site of capture may be required. The winner will be announced on Facebook and will feature in a future report in Fishing News. There will be some great prizes for the King or Queen of Copeton, so go to our Facebook page (Inland Waters Holiday Parks Copeton Waters) for all the details.

The Copeton winter fishery is getting the Australian lure industry busy producing some exceptional lures that are specifically designed to suit local requirements. Some of the new prototypes are unlike anything that has been cast in Australian freshwater before and are real works of art.

I would be very interested to hear whether anglers on some of the other inland dams have tried some of the techniques that have become popular at Copeton, and what sort of success they might be having. It seems reasonable to assume that dams that offer similar conditions and forage species to Copeton, and that have a healthy population of Murray cod should experience a similar bite at some stage during the year.

It is so important to be careful when handling these wonderful fish. To optimize survival rates please consider the following; use suitable tackle – these are big strong fish, heavy tackle will minimize fight times and fish will be fresher when landed. Bring rubber landing nets and wet your hands when landing and handling fish (only ever lay fish on cool wet surfaces). Support the fish and avoid lifting by the jaw or gills, and take particular care to revive your fish before release. If you’re in a boat slowly tow the fish to flush fresh water through its gills. If shore-based, gently hold and push the fish though the water until it recovers, then release.

The yellowbelly have pretty much shut down for the winter, but baitfishers will still pick a few fish in among the timber. Catfish will also become harder to catch as the water cools right down.

• 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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