THE WEATHER has been so contrasting lately that it’s hard to pick what’s gonna be thrown at us next, but things should settle down by April.
Things have been up and down like a honeymooners’ doona. Within two days we had a 42° scorcher followed by a week of unbelievably cool, beautiful days. Sad to say, the fish are still trying to push their way through suspended sediment and trash that’s been hanging around in the dams since the January floods.
Being so long in between floods, the build-up of logs, sticks grass and leaves was huge and much of it ended up in the dams. I haven’t been out to Keepit lately but everyone who’s phoned or called in said the water smelled worse than a week-old road kill.
Split Rock is coming good for the bait fishos, with very few lure casters and trollers catching much worth mentioning. It shouldn’t take too long for the water to come good and then it’s all systems go again.
The next few months are generally when we target big cod and the dams will be great. The old river beds at Lake Keepit are a great starting point. They’re easily found by following the old tree line. The need for a sounder is highlighted here and precise presentations are necessary to get the best strike rate.
Big, slow figure-S trolling patterns will keep the lure in contact with the edge of the drop-off. Lures with an acute dive angle are handy in this form of needle-threading trolling. As you weave your way through the timber it’s important to achieve the maximum depth with minimum line out. The shorter drop-back makes tighter turns more without snagging the bases of trees more achievable. Halco Poltergeist 80mm, Custom Crafted Lumo Divers and similar lures are great starting points for this style of trolling.
Southern cod specialists are mourning the death of thousands of natives, particularly Murray cod. The banks and snags of the Darling River were lined with huge rotting carcasses with dead cod up to 40kg bloating in the sun. This tragedy should not go uninvestigated and if found to be caused by human error, those responsible should be punished to the full extent of the law, no matter who they are.
Those big cod have been struggling to keep the species alive in these rivers for their whole lives (about 60 years for the big girls) and after surviving years of abuse, it seems a badly-timed water release could possibly be the reason. This hasn’t been confirmed. It would be a shame if the locals had to resort to hitting a little white ball around for some entertainment.
Chaffey Dam has been pretty congested with fishos and skiers since the recent floods, with the fish activity levels changing from day to day. But there’s enough water clarity and fish activity to enjoy a fish. It seems weed beds are thriving in this dam at the moment and after a couple of recent trips it’s pretty obvious this is where the fish are sitting through the day.
The most recent trip was more of a social outing with mates Rolly and Birdy. Even though we didn’t fish too seriously, we were still able to pull a few goldens to about 2kg and a couple of small silver perch. At one spot about 9am we could see big goldens sliding out of the weed and right on the bums of the 50mm Poltergeists we were chucking.
They were only inches from the lures and as we slowed our retrieves and the lures slowly float up, they’d fly in and bum’s-rush the lure, missing the hooks every damn time. It was great fun to see and there was nothing the Mustad Triple grip hooks could do to connect. I even tried the sneaky little 35mm sinking Scorpion, normally a stand-out lure and definitely small enough for picky feeders, only to have the same result. Frustrating, yes but visually exciting and educating to see the lures nailed in a closed-mouth, head-butting attack.
Trolling was our most effective technique and the 50mm Poltergeist accounted for all fish. Over the past months before the weed beds grew so prolific, steep rocky drop-offs and the old creek beds were the go. Then we could cast 35mm Scorpions and let them sink for at least 20 seconds before a twitching retrieve. They accounted for about 80% of fish taken. Purples, as usual, and the metallic Oz Frog colours were the most consistent.
The reduction in carp numbers is mainly thanks to carp-focused anglers – good work, everyone. Fly is still popular for the mud-suckers, but families soaking worms around the banks have accounted for many a carp and the smiles on the kids’ faces tell the whole story.
My wife and I ventured over to Laurieton, south of Port Macquarie, the other day. We caught and released many small flathead, with a couple of bigger specimens releasing themselves long-distance. Tailor off the end of the south wall were thick but averaged only 30cm to 35cm – good fun on light tackle. It was great to watch schools of garfish and other bait getting nailed and showering every few minutes, and you knew it was only a matter of hitting the water to get the desired result. My brother-in-law Anthony Ellis and I were like a couple of kids as we watched the tailor chasing down the gar and gorging themselves. I think the coast will be on the agenda for the next few trips while we wait for the fishing to heat up around here a little.
Jason Bird with a pre-flood Keepit Dam cod taken on a 3/8oz double Colorado Bassman spinnerbait on a day when several bigger fish won their battles.Reads: 650