Normally at this time of year I concentrate my fishing on natives such as cod and bass but a recent phone call from regular fishing mate Dave Browning had me dragging out the spin rod and heading out to try some recent ideas on the local redfin.
Regular readers would know that despite generally being a catch-and-release advocate, I am quite partial to a feed of redfin and have invested quite some time into cracking them regularly in the local creeks. I have been a little less confident approaching lakes until recently and I’ve always been suspicious that any substantial success has been a result of stubborn persistence and a little old-fashioned luck.
But reports from Dave of consecutive esky-filling sessions had definitely sparked my curiosity. Although not new, I hadn’t considered his techniques.
After a few trips fishing for impoundment bass and getting a handle on the tricks used to find and target bass in open water, Dave saw no reason why it couldn’t work on reddies.
Once on the water we figured out the wind direction and set up a drift to cover as much water as possible without having to reset our line. Then it was simply a matter of dropping our lures down and bobbing them along while keeping a very close eye on the sounder for good concentrations of fish.
Each big aggregation was marked on the GPS and once we’d done a few runs we’d go back to the one with the most (and biggest) fish, anchor up-wind and use the rope to place the boat directly over the school.
It’s not dissimilar to the old bobbing techniques but the sounder and GPS take out the guesswork.
Although the classic Baltic Bobber and Rapala ice jigs still take a fair share of the fish, we found that by upsizing our lures we also upsized the fish . Big soft plastic shads, particularly white, worked well but the big standouts were lipless rattling crankbaits. The hard Jackalls were very effective but the soft Mask was the real winner.
By simply dropping the lure to the bottom and then hopping it up and down by lifting the rod tip between 50cm and a metre, the lure would generally be snaffled on the drop or within the first few bobs. Braid such as Berkley Fireline also allowed us to feel even the lightest take in water up to 15 metres deep.
Although I haven’t hit the trout streams as often normal, a few good days guiding clients for great results has shown that the local trout populations are finally on the mend after so many years of drought and fickle fishing.
With the exception of a few sections still struggling to come back, most streams have healthy populations of trout, thanks to successful stockings over the past two seasons.
Also spicing up the fishing is the annual ‘retirement’ of some of the big brood stock from the hatchery to a few selected streams and impoundments. Although this practice has as many detractors as it does supporters (many feel the ‘broodies’ should be placed only where there isn’t already a healthy population of ‘wild’ fish) there is no question that it can really make your day if you luck into one of these monsters up to7kg.
January can often be hard for trout fishing but the fish are still there. By concentrating your efforts on the cooler parts of the day and even fishing into the night you can still experience some really good action. While the streams are in such good condition I’d be making the most of it.
The widespread, consistent storms of November and December have kept the high country trout streams topped up but the run-off has also sent some great flushes of water through eastern and western drainages.
In the bass rivers of the east, this means that the fish would have had plenty of opportunity to push right up into the headwaters and side streams. Those with the inclination for a bit of adventure should dust off their backpacks and walking boots or get the canoe out from behind the shed and try there luck.
Places such as West Kunderang, on the Macleay River, also provide access to pristine bass water for those not so keen on scrub-bashing.
While I’m writing I can hear the trill of cicadas outside my window. A good hatch this early in the season means we can expect some great surface action on the bass and when the cicadas are thick, the fish will often give up their daytime inhibitions and feed on the surface right through the day. So don’t forget to pack the Jitterbugs and poppers.
The cicadas also herald the time to try surface lures for Murray cod in the western rivers. Although the green fish will occasionally take a lure off the surface during the day they don’t generally stray far from cover.
Diving lures are still the best option during these hours but as the sun starts to set it pays to tie on a noisy popper or surface crawler. The Mudeye Depthcharge is still my top choice and it produces consistently better results over any other surface lure I’ve tried.
Strikes can often come right at your feet as you’re about to lift the lure and there are few things as exciting as being showered in warm water as your lure disappears in an esky-size hole!
Consistent rain has kept the trout streams in pristine condition for Summer. Richard Magus plays out a stubborn rainbow by a beautiful New England waterfall.Reads: 1238