When you read this month’s column, Armidale fishing will most likely be buried in the deepest recesses of my mind and chances are I’ll be tying flies and leaders, servicing and double-checking all of my fly rods and reels in preparation for the last comp in the South East Queensland Longtail Tuna (northern blues for us southerners) Series.
Once I’ve sated my lust for losing line it’ll be back to frigid Armidale to make the most of the last vestiges of the fishing season.
First thing on my agenda will be to head out to Copeton to try to pin one of the monster Murray cod that this dam is becoming famous for.
Unlike the rivers, the dam will continue to produce well into the cooler months. According to Jamie Flett, of Mudeye lures, some of the best fishing can be had through the Winter when the crowds have dissipated and the bigger fish really start to move around.
Aside from the lack of crowds, another possible reason for this extra activity is that the colder water holds more oxygen, resulting in the larger fish being less lethargic.
Either way, it will pay to brave the cold and get out on the dam and target trees and rocky drop-offs with large lures and spinnerbaits. Fish such as those in the pictures hereabouts could be your reward.
While on the subject of big fish, it seems that one of the age-old big-fish arguments has raised its ugly head – whether big impoundment fish should be culled whenever we get the chance.
The argument touted by the pro-cull minority is that the biggest cod are less fecund (they don’t produce as many eggs) and prey on smaller fish being stocked into the dam.
Although the same argument appears to hold water in the northern barra impoundments, we have to remember that barramundi grow a lot faster. Some of the big cod caught in Copeton are likely to be well over 50 years old and some suggest 100.
Some people, including luminaries like Rod Harrison, have suggested that this argument has been around some time now and is usually coughed up as justification by those selfish enough to kill these iconic fish for their own self-gratification.
A quick vox pop of friends and fishing acquaintances found that most people would rather see these big fish go back into the water for the next lucky customer, even if it is at the expense of a few of their fishing licence dollars being gobbled up as food.
The fact that an ever-increasing number of anglers are making the trip to Copeton especially to target these monsters adds to the release argument. I don’t think they’d be going to the trouble if they knew the big cod in the photographs weren’t swimming around in the dam any more.
As I suggested in last month’s column, the lower water temperatures are heralding an increase in activity in the Tablelands trout streams.
In my time on the water over the past month it has been encouraging to see how many little fingerlings have survived the Summer. Two blokes I know managed to pin close to 50 of the little terrors in a day while failing to land anything of decent size.
The bigger fish are still in there, they’re just a bit brighter than the little ones.
As the temperatures drop further the absence of terrestrial insects and hatches means that the smarter fly anglers will shift their focus to wet flies.
I’ve found small Woolly Buggers and Hammill’s Killer and Frog Killers to be particularly productive. Attractors such as Matukas also work well on the more aggressive jacks as the spawning season nears.
Just remember, the season ends on the June long weekend so get out there and make the most of it while it lasts.Reads: 520