June is a month of varied options for the fly angler. In southern Queensland the cooling coastal waters have seen fish like mackerel and tuna heading towards the northern waters. On the other hand, freshwater fishing is worth a long weekend spent on the tablelands.
The New England freshwater rivers and streams holding trout are definitely worth a try right up to the 11 June closing date. The northern tip of the state – in a strange twist of fate, given the devastating drought elsewhere – has received good rain right throughout spring and summer and the fishing has been given a terrific long-term boost. When streams run strongly trout feed continually, fish to 1kg are common enough in most trout waters.
The thing to remember is that the spawning urge brought on by the ever shortening days will see many rainbow trout moving upstream as far as they can (browns will spawn later in the closed season). That means that water barely deep enough to cover their backs will often hold good-sized trout. Sure the fish are wary in such habitat, and an angler waving his or her arms around like a windmill will be rewarded by the trout bolting to a less accessible spot, but the slow moving angler will usually be rewarded by a top quality fish.
And spawning fish are not hard to fool either. Although surface insect will be in fewer numbers given the colder conditions, sub-surface food will still be taken very readily. A size 14 brown or black nymph or a size 10 Woolly Bugger, if presented gently just a little upstream of the fish, will usually evoke a snapping response as the fish are still on the lookout for tucker, right until they release their eggs.
Cod are also handy fish during a trip to the New England area. Certainly, they will also have benefited greatly from the steady summer stream flows that have kept the tucker coming but in New England streams, especially those around Glen Innes and Tenterfield, the onset of cooler weather tends to shut them down. That said, there can still be some excellent fishing depending on the day.
Let’s look at a couple of scenarios. If a strong westerly is ripping the leaves off the riverside trees there’s every chance that cod will be hard to catch until the system causing the wind moves away.
Instead of wasting time casting to fish that won’t bite no matter what, I’d do some sightseeing. The top of my list would be the Mining Museum at Emmaville, right in the heart of cod country with the Severn River just out of town and Pindari Dam near by.
On the other hand, if the day is fairly still with a hint of warmer weather on the way, this is the perfect time to be on the bank with an eight or ten weight rod set up with an intermediate rate sink line and some big fat Deceiver style flies tied on 4/0 hooks to tempt some cod.
Don’t overlook that leader tippet. As cod have plenty of small raspy teeth, a section of 10kg tippet is required to prevent it from getting a hiding if a fish is taking a while to land.
Interestingly, cod in many of the northern New England streams tend to be in such numbers that the overall size has diminished these days and a lot of fish will be under 50cm. But every so often, a really big bloke will turn up so don’t make the mistake of fishing too light. I once had a cod rip a section of 15kg leader from where I had joined it to the 20kg main leader leave a swirl the size of a bath tub – all this in a hole where I had fished plenty of times and never taken a large fish. Naturally, I have fished that hole considerably ever since with no result – but that’s cod for you.
In my view an eight weight rod is minimal yet a ten is even better if a 20kg fish nails your fly. Remember this: cod move up and down rivers at will during times of flood and a hole that has seen nothing special taken for years can easily be home to a whopper that moved in last week during a bit of a fresh.
The beauty of fishing these waters in winter is the pure delight of the environment. After a long dry summer in southern Queensland, the contrasting chill in the air is a real treat. Then there’s the beaut campfire at night and the warm sleeping bag. It sure doesn’t get much better.
Closer to home the larger dams will be cooling but bass won’t quite be in huge numbers that make fishing for them such fun. Somerset Dam is worth a look towards the end of the month but it’s really early days for impoundment bass. And this year there’s a whole lot less water in which they can hide.
On the saltwater scene, fish like tailor and trevally are there for the boaters or for those anglers who can access a canal mouth or angler-friendly sections of rock on a sea wall. If fishing from the shore, use a stripping basket to keep the fly line under control – the barnacles and cunje are no place for a valuable fly line.
In all, there’s plenty to keep the keen fly angler occupied in either fresh or saltwater. To make the effort is to reap the rewards.Reads: 1046