February surface water is about as warm as it will be all year, with temperatures from 24° to 28° in Lake Lyell and surrounding trout waters and native impoundments such as Windamere and Wyangala will reach as high as 30°.
These increases in temperature can actually make the fishing a little better for those with the right equipment and the proper approach.
For boat anglers, a quality sounder with a high pixel count on the screen is a must. This will allow you to pick up the thermocline, a temperature band of water that separates warm surface layers from cooler bottom layers.
Just on or just above this layer is where fish both trout and native species will be concentrated. Even Murray cod will make use of this layered water if baitfish are present in good numbers.
Depending on conditions the thermocline may vary in depth and thickness from week to week.
For bait anglers bobbing yabbies and worms, it’s a good idea to work out the depth of the thermocline and then go to a spot closer to the bank where the depth is the same under the boat. Then mark your line with a marker pen or a short piece of yarn to take the guesswork out of presenting your bait as you move around the dam.
Downrigging or using lead-core line are other good approaches to tackle thermocline-hugging fish. Downrigger bombs can be lowered to the correct depth and be picked up on the sounder, while for lead-core line it is a matter of how many 10-metre coloured sections to let out.
Fly fishing can be tough from shore and this month you’re best off in a boat, drifting. Full-sink fly lines will be needed to get down to the fish.
The advantage of using the boat is you don’t have to cast a long distance; just let out some line as you drift along. Some sort of drift drogue is handy if the wind gets up, allowing your boat not to dash along too fast in the wind.
Wyangala is a sure bet for some surface action this month if weather conditions are right. Calm, balmy nights with lots of insect activity are what’s needed.
Do not expect a constant run of fish but rest assured that if one or two fish are caught, or even if you just miss a few, you will be smiling for a week.
Large paddlers, poppers and fizzers, even over 100mm, will work.
Windamere cod are spread out and mixed with a lot more water but don’t let that stop you from using a surface lure there. If you know where there is some good, solid deeper structure with some shallower water close by, this would be a good place to try.
I have not fished at night at Carcoar or Ben Chiffley but I do know anglers who have been quite successful there. Apparently one of the most effective ways to fish there at the moment is to bob yabbies up and down, especially if the heads are crushed to release some juicy berley. The edge of deep weed of points would be a good place to start.
As always, you can catch me most Saturday mornings live and loud between 5am and 5.30 on Australia’s No1 fishing and boating radio program, Hi-Tide, on 2KY.
Fly fishing for trout can be tough in February. Drifting over fish marked on the sounder and using a full-sink fly line to get down is the way to go – just ask Aaron Muldoon.
Twilight Murray cod will hit shallow-running lures such as this StumpJumper rigged with the shallow bib but you can bet your last dollar there will be some deeper, cooler structure nearby.
Don’t let open water put you off. Natives such as this Windamere golden will quite happily sit above a thermocline if baitfish are nearby.Reads: 1720