The other day I was discussing the state of the local trout fishery with a group of fly-fishing mates and the topic of local tourism came up.
When the drought was at its height the number of fly anglers visiting the Northern Tablelands definitely dropped and one can only assume that the economy driven by these visitors to small towns like Ebor must have also suffered.
What inspired this conversation was sitting in the Ebor pub after a day fishing the local streams and seeing the constant procession of Columbia shirt-clad fisherman traipsing in for their afternoon ‘beer and boast’ before collecting a carton, or bottle of spirits, for the evening ahead.
The money that anglers in general must be bringing into the local economy, though not huge, must have at least been missed a little through the leaner seasons. I know that the economic value of fly fishing in the Snowy Mountains has been given a dollar figure but, to the best of my knowledge, similar figures don’t seem to be readily available for the New England. If someone does have the info, please let me know.
Judging by the numbers rolling through the local Ebor establishment, the situation is on the mend and the photographs hanging on the wall of kids sporting this year’s catches of big fish and beaming smiles is testament to the fact. As I’ve mentioned already a few times this year, the trout fishing is definitely on the improve again.
With the season closing at midnight on the Sunday of the June long weekend, there is not much time left to get out there and make the most of it.
In last month’s column I touched on the fact that the trout start to get more aggressive as the season comes to an end. This tends to be a result of a combination of two main factors.
The commonly recognised reason is the approach of the spawning season tends to make the males a lot more aggro, while I’d also suggest that the drop in water temperature to levels a bit more within a trout’s healthy, active range would account for some of it as well.
At this time, spin anglers can do quite well using small lures such as Halco Scorpions and little Rebels in rainbow and brown trout colours. The old stand-by green Celta will also do damage and those prepared to experiment a little can also get good results on soft plastics. Red Atomic Fat Grubs and gold Crappie Spiders are two patterns that have worked well for me.
For the fly angler, large attractors such as Woolly Buggers and Matukas are a good place to start. Recently I’ve actually done quite well casting Woolly Buggers into the heads of pools and fishing them on a dead drift (just like nymphing) down the current.
Large stimulators and hopper patterns can also elicit some interest if you see a fish actively cruising around. It doesn’t hurt to keep an eye out for any insect hatches at this time of year but generally they are few and far between and the trout are usually less picky and more than happy to scoff anything ‘foody’ that drifts past.
Once the trout season closes the options available in the Armidale region tend to shrivel up with the onset of cold weather. Those willing to spend the money can still chase trout on one of the private lakes such as Uncle Billy’s or Dunmore Waters, while those endowed with a little more patience than me may be lucky enough to jag one of the big rainbows that lurk in Dumaresq Dam.
Redfin, also present in Dumaresq Dam, tend to fire up a bit in the cooler months as well. They can also be found in good numbers in many of the local streams and in the Gwydir River near Bundarra.
I’m about to head up to Weipa to get away from the cold and sample some of the great pelagic fishing the area is renowned for. With the late cyclones the run-off should be timed perfectly for my arrival so the barra should be on fire. You’ll have to forgive me if there isn’t too much local content in next month’s column!Reads: 447