Water level is still rising
  |  First Published: October 2016

Copeton has received great winter rain over the last few months. There has been a slow but consistent rise in dam levels. We have more rain coming, and Copeton was sitting at 29% at the end of August. Great news for all boating enthusiasts is the two-lane concrete boat ramp at Sepoy Knob, now well in the water and ready for the summer crowds.

October long weekend is the beginning of Copeton’s summer season, when the water skiers and wakeboarders start to get serious about using the dam. More importantly, it’s also the start of the summer fishing season. From October, thoughts move away from just cod as the yellowbelly fire up. Now’s the time to be checking line loads on your light spin outfits and retying your leaders. Yellowbelly fishing has become much more sophisticated in recent years with light braid and fluorocarbon leaders attached to lures, fitted with fine, chemically sharpened hooks. In the early spring, the yellas will mainly be found in timber or on the flats.

The timber may be in many forms. The most consistent producer is a big old pine tree; it must be something about the horizontal branches. These fish in the trees can be targeted in a number of ways. Baitfishers do well lowering a live kicking yabby or shrimp rigged on a suitable hook with a ball sinker running on top of the hook, then slowly bobbing it back up through branches. This is active baitfishing. Work a tree for 15 or 20 minutes and if nobody is home, move to the next tree. When fishing with lures, follow the same approach, but replace the bait with soft plastics, vibes or blades. In Copeton, one of the most popular options is the Gulp Minnow Grub in black, as this matches the colour of Copeton yabbies. Another top choice is the Ecogear ZX40 in a dark colour.

Now is also the time to sound around the numerous open flats where the yellowbelly will start to school. Areas around the Howell Road point, Buriee Point and the Wind Sock are all areas worth checking. As the dam level changes, keep an eye on the sounder. Anywhere you find a rise out of deep water that comes to within 20-40ft of the surface is worth checking for fish. Once you find fish, which show really well on modern sounders, then it’s a matter of finding the technique for the day.

Vibes like Jackall TN50, TN60 and Mazzy Vibes are usually first choice. These can be hopped, slow rolled or just about dead sticked. Blades are also popular when the fish are on flats, like Eco-gear ZX40s. Soft vibes are also making an impact for this type of fishing, Atomic Semi-Hardz 40mm and Jackall Gene 55. Soft plastics rigged on jigheads to suit the water depth, as light as you can and keep good contact with the bottom are also becoming more popular.

The rising water level may also draw the fish to areas where there is significant water flowing into the dam. The Gwydir River in Woonulla Bay, Copes Creek, Auburn Vale Creek and Poison Gully are all areas to try. You can search these areas using any of these methods. Try casting small profile spinnerbaits in and around structure.

If you’re still trying to tick off that metre cod from your bucket list, keep in mind the big fish will always be where the bait is. A 30-40cm yellowbelly is a baitfish in Copeton. When the yellas are schooled, cod won’t be far. Don’t forget to go to our Facebook page and upload photos of your big cod to enter the King and Queen of Copeton Competition.


Copeton visitors got to show off their yellas.


Yellowbellies will start to school near timber and open flats.


Off to find new homes in Copeton Dam, 50,000 little yellowbellies are being released.

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