Up here on the Tablelands, April is generally considered the last of the Summer fishing season so lap it up while it’s still here.
Pretty soon the Murray cod will become less voracious and the bass will get that fidgety stirring in their innards that signals the beginning of their migration downstream to the estuaries where they will spawn and spend the rest of the Winter feeding up before the return journey.
The bonus for anglers when the bass start getting the downstream urge is that they can become far less fussy in their feeding behaviour. This is the time when larger bass lures and spinnerbaits become productive and there is also a marked increase in daytime feeding.
Although I still like to stick to proven colours such as black or purple, larger patterns like Oargee Pee Wees, small Mudeyes and Mann’s’ 10+ will often produce larger fish looking for a more substantial feed.
For those who enjoy the challenge of bass with the long wand, patterns such as Clousers, Shaggy Dogs and heavily-tied Woolly Buggers are good starting points. On the surface, small gurglers, poppers and mouse patterns can supplement the usual Dahlbergs and Muddlers.
Another pattern that can be used on the surface or fished deeper on a sinking line is the Booby. For those who haven’t seen one, the booby is basically a Woolly Bugger with foam eyes. Fished on a sinking line, the leader length can be adjusted to allow the fly to remain suspended above weed beds or rocks. This pattern is particularly effective for trout and is proving itself to be equally deadly on bass in slower deep holes.
As the weather cools and the water along with it, we should see an increase in trout activity as they get ready for their Winter spawning. From all reports it looks like the Summer rains were enough to keep the streams flowing and the fish have survived – definitely a pleasant change from the past few Summers.
As the fish start to fire up the males will lose a lot of the timidness they’ve been developing through the fishing season.
Spin anglers will be able to take advantage of this by fishing some of the deeper holes with Celtas and small crankbaits. Soft plastics such as Gene Larew’s Crappy Spiders, hopped along the bottom will also entice a few takes.
For a while now I’ve been hearing rumours that Jamie Flett of Mudeye Lures had gone back to using wood rather than plastic. Seeing this as a breath of fresh air in an era where everyone else seems to be pursuing the make-a-buck-quick injected plastics path, I decided to give Jamie a call and get the good oil.
Jamie said that although wood was more expensive and time-consuming the end result more than made up for it. Not only were the wooden Mudeye lures more consistent than the moulded plastic bodies, they are also more durable.
Another great attribute of wooden lures is their buoyancy and the added confidence this gives you when fishing the snaggy terrain that cod and other natives inhabit. Knowing that a lure can lift itself out of trouble the moment you stop winding means you can really get in there among the snags.
A long-held belief in the cod-luring fraternity is that you cannot crank slowly enough. Most successful aficionados of the discipline will spend ages working a snag, holding the lure in the strike zone as long as possible and giving it the occasional twitch.
A couple of the newer shallow-diving lures in the Mudeye range don’t lend themselves too well to this technique so it was no surprise that Jamie Flett has a few different ideas.
He likes to rip these lures under and really get them moving and force the fish into an instant reactive strike. This could be particularly effective on fish that have felt the prick of a hook in the past and are more likely to reject a lure if they have more time to look at it.
Although it sounds completely against the normal line of thinking, Jamie has the runs on the board to back it up.
In the same conversation I was told of four fish over 110cm taken in the previous month. The largest, taken by Jamie’s regular fishing partner, Big Gav the Bundarra Copper, on one of his own homemade spinnerbaits, was estimated over 55kg. With fish like this being taken consistently, the Inverell area is fast becoming the cod capital of Australia and the perfect proving-ground for big cod tackle and tactics.
|Harry Chisholm caught this beautifully marked Murray cod on a backpack trip into one of the many gorges||along the western slopes of the New England Tableland.|