Following a short warm spell in early April, the cooler Autumn weather settled in and a lack of follow-up rain after some good storms in March left our waterways low.
The low water has contributed to fishing quieter than typically experienced at this time of year. Our western rivers have been patchy with many anglers reporting fewer fish caught for the Autumn period than in previous years.
The Lachlan fished better than surrounding rivers with some good yellowbelly and a few cod reported by lure and bait anglers.
The Macquarie River continued to fish poorly in comparison its normal performance for a typical season.
The Darling River has produced a few more fish over recent weeks, which is an encouraging sign after a prolonged period of very slow native fishing.
May tends to be a period when we see a changing of the guard, so to speak. As we move into Winter we see dramatic changes in local waterways.
The Central Western systems tend to shut down as water temperatures drop. The smaller fish go off the bite but the big fish become slightly more active.
The Far Western systems, such as the Darling, start to turn on some good fishing. The carp go quiet and the natives start to become increasingly active as water temperatures near their comfort zones.
The Darling River has experienced several months of rising and falling water levels after rain in southern Queensland pushed a lot of warm, murky water into the system, shutting down the native fish.
As the river has become more stable and the water cooled through April, the fishing started to improve. Although still slower than it could be at this time of year, local anglers have started reporting a few good fish.
Bait anglers fishing with grubs, yabbies, prawns and worms have taken golden perch to 2kg and a few cod to 10kg.
The following months tend to see large groups of yellowbelly congregate and hold in favourable locations. These fish can be targeted with small yabbies, prawns and worms. Targeting structure in slightly deeper water or areas that sustain an increased amount of flow will often produce good numbers of these fish.
Anglers often find goldens temperamental. To overcome this, try fishing a range of baits to find which are working best. Use live and dead yabbies and slightly crush the heads of the dead yabbies to create an aromatic berley stream; at times it can make a surprisingly big difference.
If you are after bait and local information, drop into the Bourke BP and have a chat to Murray.
A low Lachlan River fished well into mid-April as the cool seasonal change produced some increasingly active native fish. Although a lot quieter than in previous seasons, anglers reported some good yellowbelly to 1.5kg and the occasional Murray cod.
Bait produced most of the fish although anglers casting spinnerbaits and deep-diving crankbaits around the timber reported some golden perch.
The cooler months on the Lachlan result in the native fishing dropping off considerably. The yellowbelly and small cod become very slow while the large cod tend to get more active. If anglers are targeting large fish, the next few months is just the time of year to do it.
Baits of yabbies or grubs and large lures will do the trick on the bigger fish but please think of the consequences of killing a big fish – it’s a lost precious resource.
The fishing around Dubbo and surrounding areas has improved a little over the past month. The cooler temperatures resulted in resident cod and yellowbelly feeding up prior to the Winter doldrums.
A lot of small cod were caught and released by bait and lure anglers. A few sizeable cod and golden perch were taken in the Gin Gin to Warren stretch. These fish mostly took yabbies and grubs.
The cold water will slow the fishing considerably for the next four to five months. During this time, however, the big cod brigade tends to take to the water. From the time of the first frost, there will be some diehard local anglers fishing bizarre baits like steak and hard-boiled eggs for ‘old man’ cod.
Every year at this time, I await with anticipation the discovery of strange new baits that tempt big cod. The crew in this part of the world generally does not disappoint me.
I am thinking of running a competition that rewards the strangest bait (or lure) to tempt a cod this Winter. Feel free to email me stories and photos (of released fish, preferably) of such tales.
The next six months will see the onset of the northern angling migration, as I like to call it. An increased number of caravans, camper trailers and car-topping tinnies will be seen on western roads on their way to the Darling River.
When I lived in Cobar I used to watch every Winter as southern anglers travelled to the Darling to experience some top-class Winter native fishing.
As much as I enjoy seeing anglers experiencing fishing in different areas, I know the potential for increased numbers of fish being taken from the waterway. If you are travelling to the Darling this Winter, please enjoy the angling but take home only your allotted bag limits of fish.
The Lachlan River has remained low for much of the past year and boat access in such water is very difficult. A positive is the amount of structure that anglers would not otherwise be able to fish in higher river conditions.
A small Macquarie River cod that fell for an AusSpin spinnerbait and released shortly after.Reads: 600