Jack Frost is up and about
  |  First Published: May 2004

JACK FROST has blanketed early-morning paddocks with white. It is quite a sight for those from an urban background.

I remember a former guiding client of mine asking me what all the white stuff was as we headed out one May morning a few years ago! He lived in the inner city suburbs and had never seen a frost so thick.

The first frosts west of the Great Dividing Range are a trigger for our native species, especially big cod, to feed up before Winter.

Wyangala Dam has really come along in leaps and bounds as a cod fishery. This month could be really good time to spend trolling and casting lures around the edges for bigger cod. Rocky points with some sort of timber will be the prime spots.

One good casting tactic that works from time to time with cod in impoundments such as Wyangala is to park your boat nose-in to the bank right at the tip of the point and then throw a spinnerbait from the back of the boat out into the deeper water. Let it sink all the way to the bottom and then work it slowly back up the slope. This way your spinnerbait stays in the strike zone for nearly the entire length of the retrieve. Fan your casts around to cover various areas of the point.


Burrendong Dam is a huge impoundment when full – daunting, in fact. Even when at less than 20% capacity, it is still a huge body of water. The dam has received very little pressure this season and could be the place to be this May.

The big unit from Cowra, Damien Webb, and I had a trip over there not so long ago and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the fishing. The main basin does not have a lot of timber in it at the moment. Some of the little short running gullies have lay-down timber in them that has been pushed there by the wind over the years and these are great places to cast a small deep-diving lure such as a Viking Talisman or AC Invader. These short, steep gullies receive very little pressure from those people who choose to troll, simply because it’s too hard to troll a lure in there.

The main basin of Burrendong also has some great little rocky points that protrude into deep water – great areas to troll a lure, for cod and golden perch. Don’t be afraid to poke the nose of the tinny out into deep water off these prominent points, as Redfin love to school up in these areas.

Bait anglers are never left out at Burrendong. Some of the catfish caught of the bank are huge and 3kg is not out of the question. Scrub worms are a good bait for catfish, although the carp also find them quite to their liking.

The Cudgegong and Macquarie arms both have good stands of timber lining the old river beds. It is quite often hard to tell which ones will produce the fish while bobbing bait; sometimes it’s those big old solid gums and other times it’s the shorter, spindly-looking ones. I guess if that’s the hardest decision you make all day, it will have been a good day.


Ben Chifley Dam, near Bathurst, was closed due to a blue-green algae bloom at the end of Summer. It is open now and should be fishing well for a variety of species, including trout. Flatlining Tassie Devils and spoons behind a boat is a good way to fish for them. It also cuts back on the redfin intake, Note I said ‘cut back’, as you will still get them. Sticking to the open water will also help.

Soft plastics have really started to catch on with the redfin brigade. Not that long ago it was Baltic Bobbers and Teeny Terrors that reigned supreme and these offerings still catch plenty of redfin.

I think it’s when the bite gets a little slow that the plastics really come into their own. Redfin are not that fussy when it comes to different brands. Keep the size under about 75mm and vary your jig head size according to depth and wind. Colours vary but I tend to stick to more natural hues in shallow, clear water and go a bit outlandish as the depth increases. The application of the various scents also seems to make a difference when the going gets tough. Application of scent every dozen or so drops seems to keep the redfin on the chew.


This is the month for big browns, no doubt about it. I bet Ritchie Ryan from Canobolas Marine in Orange is chafing at the bit to get up to Lake Lyle. No Brown Trout is safe when Ritchie and crew from Orange are on the water.

The main basin may be the only place left deep enough to troll a down rigger at the moment. Although at this time of year I have always found big browns quite willing to come in and feed close to the banks in low light conditions.

Yabbies will be few and far between with just the odd one poking about; rest assured with browns having feed heavily on them through the year a good imitation will not last long. The New England yabby fly fished on a sink tip line around the banks is a good way to tangle with a good quality Brown Trout in the month of May.

As always if I am not missing in action somewhere around the state you can catch me bright and early Saturday mornings on Australia’s no1 fishing and boating radio programme High Tide on 2KY.


That’s close to 5kg of golden perch from the ‘Big B’. The good-looking bloke is Damien Webb from Cowra. The lure of choice is a big, gold, noisy TD Crank Scouter from Daiwa. The fish was caught on the wind-up after the end of a troll run – the author would like a dollar for every time that’s happened.


‘Brrr, it’s so cold, Dad!’ Murray Stewart shows how it’s done on May fish: Slow retrieves with downsized lures.


Brown trout love to cruise the shallows in Lake Lyell, looking for the last yabbies of the season. They can also be tempted to grab minnow imitations such as this Predatek.

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