THIS IS ANOTHER month of early starts for most anglers on the Central Tablelands.
I am a morning person so I have no problem with early starts. Some of us, however, need to be gently persuaded with a crow bar to move out of bed, even for a mornings fishing.
Of course, you could laze around, get a few things done around the house and then head out in the late afternoon. Either way, these two options will help increase your chances of catching a fish, no matter what the species or method of angling.
Trout in all Central Tablelands water seek the comfort of cooler water this month. In some ways it can make them easy to catch. I do need to clarify ‘easy’ by saying they’re easy for those set up with the right equipment.
This is especially so in impoundments such as Lake Lyell, where boat access is permitted. Lake Lyell trout will spend very little time in shallow water in February. Most of their time will be spent in 10 to 20 metres of water.
Those using controlled-depth fishing methods, such as downrigging, lead-lining or paravanes in conjunction with intelligent use of a quality sounder, will do best this month. Having said that, there have been times when drifting with a full-sink fly line and small minnow-style flies has proven very effective. The only trouble with this method is putting up with irate water skiers, so it’s possibly better to leave this method for mid-week.
Bait-fishing with scrub worms or Berkley PowerBait from some of the steeper banks is another effective option.
Stream fishing for trout this month can be quite good if water levels stay up. Again, early mornings and late afternoons are the go. Grasshoppers tend to put in an appearance at this time of year. I recall my Old Man just about hand-feeding a big old brown trout this time last year, when we where in the grip of drought. This big brown was holed up in a small stream in the Oberon district. Dad fed it half a dozen big grasshoppers from time to time. “Like throwing bones to the dog,” he said. I hope that particular trout made it through the drought.
With night temperatures much cooler on the Tablelands, especially west of the Great Divide, a lot of anglers choose to fish for native species after dark this month. Bait-fishing is the norm, with a variety of baits being used. Yabbies are prime baits, along with worms and bardi grubs.
If fishing with yabbies, try to keep them off the bottom by using a float or a paternoster rig. This way the yabby has no way of finding a hole or log to crawl under. Another way is to cast one out un-weighted and slowly retrieve it. Add some pauses and twitches and you are right on the money.
Fishing with lures at night is something I am yet to do a lot of. I wish to change that this year. I would not recommend anglers fish after dark in waters they are unfamiliar with. Clear-water impoundments such as Lake Windamere could be an untapped lure angler’s paradise on these nights.
Of course, night activities can’t be mentioned without saying a thing or two about mudeyes. They are the nymph stage of the dragonfly, and are awesome trout bait. I know anglers in the Oberon district who specialise in bait-fishing live mudeyes when these little creatures are on the march. They do really well, especially on big browns in Oberon Dam.
Light-gauge dry fly hooks in sizes 10 to 14 are the go, depending on how big your bait is. Fish the mudeye under a float with a very small split shot crimped 300mm up from the hook. An offshore wind can be helpful.
Cast the rig out and place it in a rod holder at a very slight angle, say 10° to 15°. A spinning reel with a bait feeder option is ideal because it lets fish take the bait under minimal pressure and still allows the angler to have instant control when the hook is set.
How long you let the fish run before striking depends on the night. Sometimes they are very picky while at other times they just hit and run.
Ben Chifley dam has had one of the highest water levels in the State. It has quite a few spring-fed creeks and tributaries in its catchment which help no end. The dam has been a popular spot for all water sports this Summer.
The fishing has been good, with regular reports of big redfin and some good quality golden perch.
Ice jigs are yet to catch on there. I have used them there for a few seasons now and they are the first lure to go on when targeting a school of redfin in deep water. Colour does not seem to be too important, nor the size. I have caught them on every colour I own, plus a few I have doctored up myself.
What is important is spending time motoring around, jig at the ready, looking intently at a sounder. I cannot overstate the importance of a good sounder when chasing schooled redfin. I would drift around in a bathtub if I had to, as long as my trusty sounder was with me.
Carcoar Dam has been, and will continue to be, a little quiet, but due only to the lack of a good low-water ramp. The existing one is steep and slippery when wet.
As always, you can catch me between 5am and 5:30am on Australia’s No1 fishing and boating radio program, 2KY’s Hi-Tide, with Kieren and Bruce, bright and early on Saturdays – Sydney listeners only, unfortunately.
Late afternoon is prime time for Lake Oberon Browns. This specimen was caught on a Muddler Minnow fly, which doubles nicely as a mudeye pattern when fished just under the surface.
Alex Hickson runs a spread of lures off the downriggers at Lake Lyell. Ten to 20 metres deep is where the lures should be this month.
The soft afternoon light belies the harshness of the sun just a few hours previous. Here Wayne Connors searches some Windamere water for a golden perch. Those little rocky points are prime spots.Reads: 1205