If one was to have a month of work to go fishing in and around the Central Tablelands, October would be the time to do it.
The sun has warmed the shallow water in our dams and creeks. If weed beds are present they begin to flourish, encouraging shrimp, mudeyes, and other small terrestrial insects to become active. As the water temperatures climb, yabbies begin to forage for food.
All this shallow-water activity encourages fish, be they trout or native fish, to swim and feed in nature’s form of a banquet.
Lake Windamere is a great shallow-water fishery in October and most fish are found in 3m or less, due mainly to the weed beds that line the shore. The weed is still relatively short in most places, a metre or less.
Golden perch and silver perch will be found patrolling around and over these weed beds. If there is some broken rock or reef close by, I can nearly guarantee there will be some fish there.
Walking the banks casting small deep-divers and minnows is a great way to fish at this time of year. Look to crank your diving lure down to the weed, then fish the it slowly over and through the weed. Sure, you will weed up from time to time but you will also catch some great fish.
Fishing from the boat and casting back to the shore is also successful, especially if anglers turn sounders off and keep noise to a minimum. Soft plastics and bibless rattlers cast and worked around these weed beds can also prove very productive.
Wyangala Dam does not have the weed beds of Windamere but it does have more timber and more rocks in shallow water and this is where you will find the golden perch. Steeper banks with a stepped or staircase look about them can fish very well.
Also look for areas where the wave action has washed away softer soil around a hard clay bank. These little indentations in the bank seem to be preferred by Wyangala’s golden perch when they are feeding in the shallows.
Burrendong Dam fishes very much the same as Windamere in October. Last year I had some great Spring fishing there. The weed beds are not as prolific as Windamere’s but if the water has been rising the goldens get in among the drowned shrubs and bushes to feed on the redfin pin fry. Slightly steeper banks are possibly preferable to fish at Burrendong.
Oberon Dam is a classic impoundment to fish in spring, especially if rain has fallen in the area. With water over new ground, rainbow and brown trout will cruise the flooded flats looking for drowned worms and grubs.
Sight fishing with a fly rod in hand is a great way to spend an early morning. Wet flies such as a Woolly Bugger presented just under the surface, or a dry fly such as a Red Tag or a Royal Wulff cast well ahead of a moving fish and twitched ever so slightly as the fish approaches are very rarely refused.
Casting from the bank with baits and lures also works a treat at this time of year. Lake Lyell has some great little bays and points that attract fish at the moment and trout around 2kg are regular catches.
The keys are to fish in low-light periods and to use light spinning tackle. Minnows and yabby patterns shorter than 6cm can work very well, along with various soft plastics of the same length.
Vary the head weight of the plastic’s jig to suit the depth you want to fish. Most of the time the trout will be shallow so the lighter the better suits most of the time.
Then, not a breath of wind, not a sound, just puffy white clouds reflected in tranquil water – pleasant memories of a great October day.
With the opening of the streams this month there will be plenty of avid flyfishers champing at the bit to tackle a trout.
Ian Stewart tries hard to hide behind a Windamere golden perch, caught casting a green pizza pattern Deception Shrimp to a shallow weed bed.Reads: 611