Water continues to flow down some of our rivers in the West and Central West but latest statistics show our impoundments, especially Burrendong and Wyangala, at tragically low levels.
A very low Darling River continues to produce a few fish for anglers who persevere to fish through the very hot conditions.
The Lachlan and Macquarie rivers have sustained reasonable flow rates through February and have continued to produce some good fish.
This month is usually good for fishing. As the temperatures start to cool, the native fish begin to feed prior to the onset of Winter and this usually turns on some quality action. This month, however, the level of our rivers will be a major factor governing the quality of fishing that anglers will encounter.
The Darling River has remained low throughout February and local anglers have reported that stretches of the river have become somewhat discoloured. The lack of flow has slowed the fishing down but has not shut it down. Anglers who have endured the recent heat have reported a few good fish.
Several Murray cod from 7kg to 10kg and a number of kilo to 2kg golden perch have been taken. The majority of these fish have fallen to larger deep-diving lures. Fishing the river successfully in recent times has comprised finding the deeper sections and repetitively casting or trolling lures through likely-looking water. It seems that a lure with a lot of action has been more critical than colour selection lately.
With little rain forecast in the upcoming months, one would expect current conditions to continue. Lower temperatures in March should make fishing the river a little more pleasant.
The Lachlan River has maintained steady flow rates at the time of writing. This has been due to the consistent release of water from Wyangala Dam through irrigating season. The river has remained reasonably clear and anglers have fared well for golden perch up to a kilogram.
Jim from Forbes Great Outdoors reports that anglers from Forbes to Begerebong have consistently taken golden perch on worms and shrimp baits.
Casting lures has also accounted for a few fish recently. Reports downstream to Hillston suggest anglers have met with similar results along the course of the river.
One would expect that once irrigation demand ceases, the river should drop to lower levels. The fishing tends to be good in March as fish begin to feed prior to the onset of Winter. However, if met with low river levels, anglers could find the fish in a more subdued state than one would expect for this time of year.
Anglers fishing the Macquarie River in recent months have probably had the pick of the native fishing on our western rivers. The Macquarie has maintained reasonable flow rates and has remained clear enough to allow for some quality lure fishing.
It has been quite achievable for an angler to take five to 10 fish a day by casting or trolling lures along stretches of the river above and below the Dubbo area. The majority of the fish taken have been Murray cod from 40cm to 50cm. Most of them have fallen for larger deep-diving lures. The darker colours, mainly reds and purples, seem to have been the most successful.
A few anglers have taken fish on surface lures over past months, but with the lack of cicadas this year, the action has been a bit quieter than normal.
Bait anglers have also fared well. Some good fish have been taken from around the timber, mainly on grubs and shrimp.
This month river flow rates will more than likely dictate the type of fishing we will encounter. If the river maintains current levels we should be in for some good fishing. If this is the case, using the techniques outlined above should produce fish for anglers.
Many anglers have utilised the clear river systems of late to experiment and take fish on hard-bodied lures. The confidence gained by people taking fish on hard-bodied offerings has led many to use this as their preferred fishing technique.
With anglers across the State now taking many different species on soft plastics, it pays for us as anglers in our part of the world to begin exploring the awful lot of unexplored territory out there.
A 45cm Murray cod, typical of the size of fish being taken at present, is led to the boat in the Macquarie river at Narromine.
Anglers need to be aware of the number of snakes frequenting our western rivers. This red bellied black snake seemed quite keen to join the author in the boat for a few nervous moments.Reads: 532