Fishable water at last!
  |  First Published: December 2003

I HAVE MAINLY been running trout tours this season but all reports from the upper Macleay River are excellent so I am confident in booking much of my time down there chasing bass over the best part of Summer.

I still have lots of people waiting to go wilderness bass fishing from last season, when there wasn’t even enough water down there to run a baptism, let alone a canoe tour. All this, of course, is dependent on forthcoming rainfall to keep the river level up. Even though we have had good storms and run-off nearly every other week, it doesn’t take long to turn that around. With a strong, dry westerly wind and hot weather, the life can be sucked out of the country and the rivers in a matter of days.

Many anglers have been enjoying the reasonable conditions on the Macleay for several months, which is not the case every year. We often find the best fishing and biggest bass don’t often show themselves until after Christmas but it has been good from October 2003.

I know that Spring is generally great for bass on other river systems but you have to remember that where we fish is over 150km from the estuaries where the fish migrate to spawn. In all honesty, I am yet to work out their exact migratory actions, that is, which fish move and when, as every year seems to be slightly different and I suspect this is just a function of river height and weather. I’m sure they wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if they were as predictable as salmon.

The western rivers have also had some relief from the drought, at least above the major impoundments. Following the height gauges on the Bureau of Meteorology website, I see that they have mostly been around 0.7m – far better than the situation 12 months ago. This means that the Murray cod and golden perch will be really hitting their straps about now on systems like the Gwydir and Macintyre.

Unfortunately, those impoundments are still very low and there will be little water released for the rest of the season. Since there was very little water to release for our cotton-growing mates, it appears that what they have let go was done in a couple of big rushes, doing little for the downstream ecology.

You will find that river height web page at [url=http://www.bom.gov.au/]. I follow it daily over the warmer months, just as much as the weather pages themselves, as it often helps me decide when and where I will fish. I’m sure you will find it a great freshwater fishing resource.


We have mainly been chasing trout, taking advantage of the water flow and good fish available in some streams. Each day we go out, the fishing gets tougher as the water warms and the trout become more wary. Unlike the start of the season, when the rainbows would eat just about any streamer fly and would fight determinedly, now you really have to choose your weapon carefully as the fish become more sluggish and nocturnal. It’s such a contrast to the native fish like Murray cod and bass that really thrive in those conditions.

This is so very typical of Summer trout fishing in the New England – you really hope for a cool, overcast day to give the fish some relief and the angler more of a chance to catch them. I find quality nymph patterns, capable of being fished at all depths, are a must over Summer and dry flies work better as the season progresses and when the conditions dictate.

Gold Coast fly angler Rod Spence did well to tempt this delightful Ebor rainbow trout with slowly fished Woolly Bugger fly.

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