Water – fish love it!
  |  First Published: May 2004

HOW GOOD is it to see some water about finally? At long last, most of the streams in this region are flowing properly once again.

It’s just so great to be able to take a canoe downstream or to actually have trouble making a river crossing by vehicle. They’re small pleasures after two-and-a-half years of bad drought. I promise I will never complain about it raining ever again!

There is no doubting, either, that fish thrive when there is lots of water about. The river systems are just so much healthier and fish are more likely to feed when it suits them, rather than just being in survival mode.

That is not to say that all areas are totally back to ‘normal’ here. I went for a drive on the western side of Guyra the other day and it was actually quite dry there and some parts of the north of the State still remain in official drought. It is, however, 1000 times better than this time last year and I am really looking forward to the next Spring season if the good conditions persist.

Traditionally at this time of year the bait-fishers start coming into their own, particularly on the big impoundments like Copeton as the native fish become lazier as the water cools. I am definitely not a bait angler by any stretch of the imagination. I can’t even remember the last time I struck a hook through a bait in freshwater. But I think there is a lot to be said for using soft plastics in these circumstances.

My trip up north to Cania Dam last December taught me a lot about how to catch fish in impoundments when they are not actively feeding near the surface where they can be targeted with hard-bodied lures. Small, slowly-fished soft plastics were the trick on the bass there.

I feel certain that the same techniques could be applied to our inland lakes, particularly for fish like golden perch. The idea was to use your sounder to locate schooled fish on the bottom, or at least good structure at the depth where the fish were being seen. Then the small rubber tails were fished ever so slowly along the bottom with just an occasional twitch to give some action.

Fishing them in towards the bank, the lure would drop into deeper and deeper water until it hit the spot where the fish were and you would start to get a few nibbles, just like you were bait-fishing. Then, when you gave the lure a twitch, a more aggressive strike would occur.

This technique should be perfect for schooling aggregations of goldens, particularly when they gather to spawn in the lakes in Spring. The technique reminded me a lot of how you would fish a live nipper across the sand for whiting with just enough movement to attract attention.

There are so many reasons why this would be better than fishing live baits in freshwater – no worries with gathering and keeping bait alive, less mess, and there is a mind-boggling array of shapes, sizes and colours available to tempt the angler and the discerning fish. You just need to be the type of angler with the patience to fish so slowly to get the results. I am not that dedicated but I would like to give it a go once or twice. Any feedback on this topic would be greatly appreciated.


How long has this debate been going on? I can’t believe the bull that I have read in the past few months, particularly on the internet, by those seeking to change NSW Fisheries policy in providing resources to stock certain waterways with ‘feral’ trout. I have even been accused of siding with the trout ‘faction’, which is just utter nonsense.

Trout have been stocked into designated waters for over a century, for the most part into streams where large natives did not occur, because anglers simply enjoy catching them – nothing more, nothing less.

I accept that there may be some overlap where there could be some conflict but there is no reason why trout stocking shouldn’t continue in the places where they have always been stocked. C’mon, guys, there are far bigger issues where your efforts could be directed – like fixing the rest of the Murray-Darling Basin, the real home of the Murray cod, not small highland streams. Leave the trout be!

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