Last month I reported that many of the western and eastern-flowing rivers had been rendered unfishable by the extremely low water levels and chronic weed growth. I am happy to say now that this situation has been largely addressed and we can look forward to good times ahead. Well, you know, hopefully.
April in the high New England usually sees the last of the good fishing for natives such as bass and cod. Since the river levels have improved dramatically on both sides of the Great Divide, it will give me the opportunity to run some cod and bass tours which could easily not have happened at all this season if the big dry had persisted.
Even after Autumn has plunged the gorge country into a cold sleep that lasts until the end of October, there are still some good native options. In the more open country fish will certainly bite if you get a good patch of clear weather with warm, sunny days and high atmospheric pressure. But it can be very dicey planning a trip in there because the conditions can shut down again in a matter of hours.
Murray cod and golden perch down off the Range are also a proposition. The lower Gwydir, Namoi, Peel and Macintyre river systems have all improved so much in the past few years that you can go to a good-looking stretch of water and fully expect to catch a genuine greenfish.
That’s not to say that they are everywhere in those rivers of the North-West Slopes and Plains. On the contrary, there are many areas that are still badly affected by carp, pollution and poor agriculture practices where the cod do it really tough. If you can find a good patch, do the right thing and look after the cod.
If there is one prediction that I wished wouldn’t come true, it is the one regarding the fate of the New England trout after the drought. In the past two days we have had four anglers fishing four of the very best New England streams and all we could find were two average-sized rainbows in all that time.
As it was in the worst months of the drought, we were fishing water that just seemed lifeless fish-wise in conditions that should have seen the ‘bows going off their heads. I fear the fate of the trout around here is sealed for the next 18 months or more, at least until future stocking takes effect.
A while back I bemoaned the distinct lack of tackle retailers in Armidale since the untimely and sooty demise of Armidale Rod and Rifle. I can happily report that one of the area’s established retailers, Armidale Outdoors, is putting in a line of fishing tackle that will meet the needs of locals and travelling anglers alike.
In the fishing department you will find none other than Richard Barnsley, a name many will recognise from his numerous articles in fishing magazines, including this one. (And this very issue – ed). Richard is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to fishing this region and he will be happy to assist you in your endeavours.
Sydneysider Rowan Munchenberg tackled this average cod with a spin outfit and AusSpin spinnerbait.Reads: 997