Winter on the Central Tablelands is cold, with top daytime temperatures commonly below10° and sub-zero nights, so it pays to dress correctly. After all, if you are on the water and are uncomfortable, you will not catch as many fish and you won’t enjoy yourself.
Trout season on the streams and rivers on the Central Tablelands finishes on the long weekend in June. It has been a lean year on the streams and the drought has had a big effect. I will be taking a walk to some of the spawning beds along the fish river just to see how many breeding fish are left but I will leave the rod at home this year.
Doing a regular column with this publication and my radio piece with 2KY, I rely on quite a few people to keep me informed about areas which I may get to only from time to time. Ritchie Ryan, from Canobolas Marine in Orange, is one such source. Ritchie and his mate Paul McMahon are downrigging specialists and Lake Lyell is their home turf. There would not be an inch of deep water in that dam that at some time or other has not been covered by Ritchie’s sounder.
They constantly amaze me with some of the captures they make – brown trout to 3kg and 4kg are not uncommon. Rainbows come in a little smaller but make up for the bulk of the catch. Lead-core line also plays an important part in their arsenal, along with strong-actioned, hard-bodied lures such as deep-diving Bennet Merlins, Stump Jumpers, and the new Viking Talisman. Do yourself a favour, call in and see Ritchie at 166-172 Bathurst Road, phone 6361 3014 – you’re bound to walk out knowing a lot more about controlled-depth trolling than when you walked in, I guarantee it.
Thompsons Creek Dam has been a good producer of trout for land-based anglers. Other land-based destinations such as Oberon Dam and Lake Wallace have been quiet, while TCD just continues to produce the goods. The dam does fish a little differently to the others, though, mainly due to the clear water. Five-metre visibility is common. The key is to downsize your offerings and your tackle.
It’s no secret that fly anglers do really well at TCD. The main reason is the ability of the fly rod to deliver a very small offering on very light fluorocarbon leaders. Fly sizes from No 10 to No 16 in various nymphs, shrimps and small baitfish patterns are popular.
To consistently catch fish on lures in TCD, lure-casters need to take a leaf out of the fly angler’s book. Half-size Tassie Devils, smaller spoons and Rapalas in 3cm to 5cm sizes are the way to go, along with small jigs and soft plastics, such as the new Squidgy Fish in rainbow trout and brown trout colours.
The only exception to small flies and lures is the twilight bite along the wall. Browns will move in and feed on the large bull-headed gudgeon and yabbies. Deception Shrimps in darker colours are the way to go here. Cast at an angle to the wall and work your Deception Shrimp up and over the rocks, just like a real yabby. The strikes are usually bone-crunching affairs.
If you get a good hit and fail to connect, resist the temptation to continue your retrieve – let the lure sit. Deception Shrimps are only slightly positive in buoyancy. Brown trout will often come back to clean up what they missed the first time. After all, yabbies are quite a mouthful.
I have had quite a few reports in previous months of small Murray cod being caught in impoundments such as Carcoar Dam, Ben Chifley and Windamere. It’s good to see them coming through the ranks.
Most of the action on our native species has slowed this month. Bait possibly will be your best option and the humble worm is hard to go past at this time of year. A good way to pass some time is to fish them off the bank with the rod in a holder or bob them slowly among the trees from a boat.
If you want to stick to artificials, try a soft plastic such as a Squidgy Wriggler dosed up with some garlic scent. Lift it slowly up and down in and around the bases of trees. It is very important to follow the Squidgy down on the drop, as this is when a lot of hits occur. Keep the jighead weight as light as possible to give a more natural presentation. Four- or five-gram heads are all you need.
Winter is a great time to target big redfin and 2kg fish are not uncommon. Numbers are way down on Summer captures but the size increase is well worth the effort. I am going to put some time in with the downrigger this year. Rodger Miles, from down Bendigo way, does exceptionally well with the downrigger in his home lakes and I cannot see why it would not work in our impoundments. I will keep you posted.
Big high-pressure systems are the key for mega-reddies in Winter. The back end of the system seems to really get them going.
Trolling is the best method. There can be vast areas of Carcoar and Ben Chifley dams with no redfin at all, so trolling covers more area. When you find them on your sounder, it’s usually action a plenty.
Stay tuned to 2KY Hi Tide for up-to-date fishing reports. My Central Tablelands report is on usually between 5.30am and 6am on Saturdays.
Rainbow Trout love the cooler temperatures of Winter. This Wallace Dam rainbow fell to a Berkley PowerBait. Lake Wallace has been quiet of late, with Thompsons Creek Dam, just up the road, taking most of the glory.
Big Carcoar redfin love the depths of Winter. Just be sure to pick your days. The back end of big high-pressure systems are the key. Good-quality sounders are also very important.
Experienced fly anglers do well in Thompsons Creek Dam over Winter. Small flies and light fluorocarbon leaders, and a cautious approach, are needed.