The final countdown
  |  First Published: February 2006

This is my last Fishing Monthly report for this area before my family and I head north to the Sunshine Coast area.

This report will summarise recent fishing conditions and then recap some of the most valuable lessons I have learnt fishing the local river systems.

Local river systems are all showing signs of fishing well. The large amount of rain in the Central and Far Western areas has done a lot for water levels in rivers and impoundments and the fishing has been good.

The Darling River has produced some sizeable golden perch for anglers using small yabbies, prawns and grubs. The bait brigade has also reported some cod to 10kg predominantly on grubs and big yabbies. Lure anglers have begun taking some good fish on large, trolled deep-diving lures.

The Lachlan River has produced some good catches of goldens for bait anglers. The river has remained murky for some time, meaning yabbies, worms and shrimp have produced fish around timber early and late in the day.

The Macquarie River has remained high and murky for the past two months and few fish had been taken around Dubbo. Golden perch and a few cod have been caught on bait downstream of Narromine.

As the river starts to clear more fish will take lures and bait in the river closer to Dubbo and upstream.


The rivers across the Central and Far Western NSW behave differently with regards to seasonal fish activity.

The Far Western systems, including the Darling, fish very well through the cold months of the year. May to September is my favourite time to fish there. The active native fish and subdued carp make the Darling very productive.

Following the barometer and aiming to fish through large high pressure systems during the cold months result in many successful trips.

The Central Western systems, including the Macquarie and Lachlan rivers, fish most productively through the warmer months. September to April is the time for cod, yellowbelly and catfish in these rivers. The fish become active and spawn through Spring and then start recovering fat supplies lost through Winter.

During peak native fish activity levels on any of the rivers, anglers will find fish most active during lower light periods and typically for an hour or two right in the middle of the day.

Rising river levels will generally produce active native fish. The exceptions to this apply when flash flooding occurs or the new water is too warm, both situations producing lower oxygen levels.


I have taken plenty of fish from local river systems on bait. In many cases, murky waters such as those often encountered in the Darling make bait fishing the most viable option.

My favourite bait in the Darling is yabbies from 5cm to 10cm, closely followed by shrimp, prawns (the saltwater variety), worms and grubs. Bait fishing the snags and deep sections of the Darling generally produces fish.

During times when the fish are a bit subdued, try bobbing baits among the timber. A moving bait invading the sheltering area of fish often produces when times are tough.

The fish in the Lachlan and Macquarie rivers are definite prospects on worms, shrimp, yabbies, grubs and cheese, which has become a popular bait in recent years. However, I still favour grubs for cod and worms, shrimp and yabbies for golden perch in these systems.

A favourite method on these systems is to move through sections of the river by boat or on foot strategically fishing likely structure for short periods before moving on.


When reasonable visibility exists (50cm below the surface is clear enough!) in our river systems, lures become viable.

Many western anglers troll large deep-diving lures along the bottom of the river, making sure they regularly bounce their lures along the silt and timber. Big, wide-action lures that walked through sunken timber and across the bottom account for large numbers of fish, including some very big cod.

Casting spinnerbaits, deep-diving crankbaits and lipless rattling crankbaits at likely structure is also a favoured means of taking western natives. Lures such as rattling Daiwa Pro Vibes, AusSpin spinnerbaits and Viking deep-diving lures are perfectly designed to trigger the attack instincts of inland native fish. By casting these lures into the holding locations of fish and giving them the required actions, anglers will discover an exciting and successful means of catching native fish out west.

It has been an honour covering the region for NSWFM for the past eight years and local anglers have provided me with many valuable lessons and happy memories. Thanks to all who have read and emailed stories, photos, thoughts and questions. Thanks also to Murray Stewart and Darren Haymen in Bourke, Ray Richards in Hillston, Damien Webb in Cowra and Ken Jones in Narromine for reports on local fishing.

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