‘Fishing guide drowns’
  |  First Published: March 2003

‘Fishing guide drowns’

That could so easily have been the newspaper headline – an ironic, unceremonious end and a sad epitaph.

These were the thoughts that ran through my mind as I stood in the Macleay River with my new camera in one hand and my rod and reel in the other, both held above my head, feet entangled in thick weed and water lapping at my bottom lip.

For reasons unknown, I took another step forward into even deeper water and I went fully under. I struggled back to the surface, still with the treasured goods above my head, and saw Gordo standing on the bank, looking a little anxious.

To cut a long story short, Gordo rescued my camera so I didn’t get it wet and, obviously I didn’t drown. It just goes to show how we’ve all got to be careful out there.

So why am I telling you about my misadventures? (Who mentioned Russel Coight?) I was just going to highlight just how badly-weeded the rivers around here had become and I guess this is the most graphic demonstration. The water looked only knee-deep but in places the weed was growing from the bottom to the surface in more than three metres of water. Sure made the bass fishing difficult…

Last month I reported that we had had some welcome rain and, while the rivers came up a little, it didn’t move any of the choking weed. Two years of drought and extreme low water levels have given the weed and green algae time to take a foothold in many of the rivers on both sides of the range. Many are at their lowest level in 20 years, exceeded only by the drought of the early 1980s when most stopped flowing altogether.

What we need is a real gully-raker to get the river systems working again. With a good couple of months left before Winter closes the rivers down again, not much will be happening in the high country until good rain is forthcoming.

Shining light

Over the past 12 months I have reported on just how well the fishing has been going at Split Rock Dam and this has continued through this incredibly dry period. With the irrigation water releases the dam is now down to around 10% of capacity and the fish, Murray cod especially, have inexplicably been going off their heads.

Hardly a day goes by when I don’t hear a report of so-and-so catching a good cod out at ‘Splitty’. Quite a few of the fish have been over that magical 100cm mark and many, I understand, have been taken trolling at night with Tamworth-built Cod Seeker lures. These enormous hunks of metal and wood are about the size of a kilo cod themselves and they really seem to get the big fish excited.

Copeton Dam, too, has had its moments of late, producing quite a few big cod for those in the know and prepared to put in some serious effort for that once-in-a-lifetime fish.

Both of these lakes and, indeed, other impoundments in the area have been the staple for many anglers since the rivers have become so poor. Now the major water releases have finished, the lake heights should remain fairly constant (if very low) but I hate to think of the consequences if the rain doesn’t arrive before Winter.


Low river levels and heavy weed didn’t stop Mike Simmons of Parkes taking his first fish on fly. A pretty gorge country Murray cod lived to fight another day.

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