THE EASTER break is just about on us already and I bet a few keen souls have already started packing. The Easter break is traditionally a time of year when a lot of people head for the water, me included.
With extra water users around, it often pays to think outside the square to keep the catch rates up. Try packing some extra fuel in the boat and pushing up that little bit farther. You might even be better off leaving the boat at home and trying some harder-to-reach water on foot.
Finding submerged structure away from the bank is a good Easter tactic. Quite often the lie of the land will give away a hidden secret in impoundments such as Wyangala, Windamere and Ben Chifley. Points often go a long way out into the water and can quite often have several peaks that come up to surprisingly shallow water. These spots can take up a little bit of angling time to find but are well worth the time and effort when found on the sounder.
Many lure anglers, especially those fishing for native fish, find it hard to drag themselves away from above-water structure that they feel comfortable casting or trolling around. Bait anglers seem to have less trouble coming to grips with open water. Remember, it’s what’s under the water that counts: Submerged weed beds, rocks, and timber equal offshore success at Easter time.
A frost is not out of the question in early April on the Central Tablelands, especially around the Oberon district. This is great news for trout anglers as there’s nothing like sub-zero nights to lower water temps quickly. Summer water in the high 20°s makes trout very lethargic, especially in our streams. Trout in Lake Lyell and Oberon Dam have the benefit of cool, deep water to retreat to. With cooler water in streams and impoundments, these trout become a lot more active in shallow water.
Big browns on the Central Tablelands are triggered to feed up by this drop in water temperature. Lake Lyell will have good-sized browns cruising the shallows looking for yabbies and gudgeons. Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times although midday hours with good cloud cover should not be discounted. Good lures included Rebel yabby patterns, Rapala CD floating and sinking minnows in the 5cm and 7cm lengths, and Squidgy Fish soft plastics up to 65mm in the Gary Glitter and brown colours are dead ringers for Lake Lyell gudgeon and have already accounted for quite a few healthy browns.
Stream Trout are also a lot more active in April, when there can be good insect hatches during the day. The best thing about it is it’s an office-hour bite, 9am to 5pm, and after months of early starts it’s great to get a sleep-in.
Small hatching insects are a lot more active in April when the sun is out. Polarising fish is also made a lot easier with a little sun. Quite often, if patchy cloud is about it’s better to sit back and wait for the sun to pop out while near a good pool. You will be amazed at the difference a 20-minute dose of sunshine will make to a pool that not long before seemed lifeless.
Lake Windamere has had relatively stable water levels over Summer so there has been good weed growth all the way around the dam. With cooling water, a lot of Windamere’s fish will be spending more quality time around these weed beds. Trolling and casting lures around the gaps and edges of this weed will have you connected in no time.
If you are having trouble catching fish, quite often it pays at this time of year to decrease the size of your lure. I have caught plenty of fish in April and May on Tilsan Minnows and Deception Nippers. One of my favourite lures to throw around the weed at this time of year is the little Predatek Minnow in brown and rainbow trout patterns. You will also put yourself in the picture for a quality sized silver perch using these offerings.
Obviously, a small threadline reel loaded with light braid around 3kg is going to be the outfit to use. You may lose the odd fish back in the weed but, as I have always said, better to have loved and lost than to have never have loved at all.
You are not going to catch to many Murray cod in Windamere on small offerings and a light threadline. Nor will you catch too many in two metres of water. But you can catch one at this time of year. In fact, more cod get caught in April-May than at any other time of year.
Trolling large lures such as Oargee Plows, StumpJumpers and Custom Crafted Hammerheads may get you a good fish.
Repeated trolling runs along a 200- or 300-metre stretch is better than just aimlessly trolling around the perimeter of the dam. If nothing else it keeps the mind in gear. Concentrate on your sounder and move in and out from the bank, trying different approach angles to structure you have found on the bottom. Occasionally hitting the bottom is also a good thing.
• My congratulations go out to fellow writer Nigel Webster who, as most of you know, writes the Western NSW column for NSW Fishing Monthly. Parkes is a long way from the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria where Nigel finished fourth and qualified for the grand finial in the first round of the Quintrex National BREAM Series. I have shared some water with Nigel in the past and it was great to see his name up in lights, well done mate.
• Remember you can catch me bright and early on Australia’s No1 fishing and boating radio program, High Tide with Kieran and Bruce, on Saturdays between 5am and 5.30.
The Easter holiday break can be a little busy, and for good reason – the fishing and weather can be superb.
April stream fishing for small rainbow and brown trout like this one is great fun. The best thing about it is the best fishing hours are business hours.
Matt Reese from Gerringong knows the importance of using small offerings at Lake Windamere. This fish was caught on a small deep-diving Bennet Merlin.Reads: 624