Let fly while you can!
  |  First Published: May 2006

Once again there’s a nip in the air, heralding the fact that Jack Frost can’t be too far away at all now. In fact, by the time this issue hits the newsagency shelves I’m sure the grass in Armidale will be browning off and the mowers will be tucked away until Spring.

The upside to this is that with no more lawns to mow there’s more time to be out making the most of the last good fishing before the cold shuts down the fish.

This year I’ve again made my pilgrimage to South East Queensland for tuna-on-fly tournaments. On first consideration nothing seems further removed from the trout, bass or cod of the local fishery but it really is amazing how many common themes lead to success in these vastly different fisheries.

In the few seasons I’ve been chasing these speedsters at sea it has already become apparent that quick, accurate casting and the ability to read the water and fish feeding behaviour honed locally have helped speed up my learning process. That, and shamelessly sponging any information off those more experienced and willing to share!

It remains to be seen if the epoxy flies and double-handed stripping learnt up there will translate as well to the local trout streams. I must admit, however, as I sit here rubbing a massively bruised thigh sustained from a boat pitching in a nasty 25-knot chop, it has been nice to slip back into the sedate pace of an afternoon jaunt on the local trout streams.

And what a time of year to be doing it! The colder temperatures of May are far more to the liking of trout and combined with their increased aggression as the breeding season approaches, can result in some tremendous fishing.

With the Easter crowds gone the fish tend to be a little less jumpy. Because the cool weather also causes a decline in the number of insects about I tend to feel more confident fishing large attractors such as bead-head Woolly Buggers, Killers and, with a sinking line in the deeper pools, Boobies. The Boobies are also dynamite fished as a waking fly with a floating line late in the evening.

It’s still worth carrying a few dries because there’s every chance you might luck upon an afternoon hatch if the day is warm enough. Spin anglers should take advantage of the aggressive jack fish at this time of year and cast the classic green Celtas.

Make the most of them because the trout season closes on the June long weekend.


With the bass all but forgotten unless you’re willing to make the long drive down to Kempsey, clued-up local anglers turn their attention to the west to make the most of the generally slower flows and clear water this time of year in the cod rivers.

The farther west you go the warmer the water is and we’ve often experienced good fishing right into May as long as there isn’t a heavy cold snap.

Best times are during the warmer hours of the day when you’ll often find the fish right up in the shallow areas. We’re not the only species that likes to soak up a few warm rays.

Evenings are also a good time but the cooler temperatures mean that we don’t get the great surface action we often experience over the warmer months.

In the dams, May is the time the fish start moving back into the shallow water along the banks. With temperatures being optimal for a short time before the really cold water of Winter sets in, it’s a good time to walk the banks targeting points and drop-offs or doing the same thing from a boat if you have one.

As the month progresses, though, you’ll find yourself putting in a lot more effort between fish as it gets colder but as I’ve often heard from others more experienced than me, ‘they’ve still gotta eat’.

A long way from the waters of Armidale but putting locally-learnt skills to good use. The author with a 10kg longtail tuna caught on fly.

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