Room for optimism
  |  First Published: June 2003

Small amounts of rain over recent weeks have kept anglers optimistic that our water crisis may be improved soon. However, the recent falls have done little to increase our current water stocks.

Impoundments such as Burrendong and Wyangala are now below 10% capacity, a very worrying sign. Although evaporation rates will be lower in the upcoming months, we are in need of rain now.

The past month has seen some good fishing on several of our rivers. In preparation for the Winter, native fish fed actively in the Lachlan River and, to a slightly lesser extent, in the Macquarie. The Darling usually fishes well through Winter because water temperatures out west are generally higher than most others in the State. The rain in southern Queensland has recently pushed some new water through the river. This new water and the changing water temperatures have improved the fishing of late.

Bourke to Tilpa

At the time of writing, the Darling River had dropped after a small rise in late April and early May. However, further rainfall in the north has pushed fresh water into the river and we should expect another rise.

The influx of new water into the system disturbed the clarity, so anglers have resorted to taking fish on bait over recent weeks. Most have reported taking mainly golden perch up to 2kg with only a few cod being caught. Good fishing has been reported around Bourke, Brewarrina, Louth and Tilpa. The majority of fish have been taken on worms, bait prawns and small yabbies.

With new water entering the river at this time of year, the action should continue. The baits mentioned above should continue to take fish, as will lures when the water clarity improves. At this time of year, target areas of structure in deeper water and any location where deep water rises up into shallower, more strongly-flowing sections. Golden perch tend to school in these areas at this time of year.

Many of these fish are taken below weirs, where they are unable to move upstream due to the lack of fish ladders in some areas. A number of local anglers who have recently observed the decimation of native fish stocks beneath weirs along the river are again asking why we aren’t installing ladders in these western areas.

Forbes to Hillston

The Lachlan River currently consists of small, running pockets of water, lying amid a maze of timber. Access along the river by boat is very restricted, making for interesting fishing conditions.

Anglers in the Condobolin area have reported very good fishing through late April and early May. The catches consisted mainly of golden perch up to a kilo and the odd Murray cod up to 10kg. There has been an unconfirmed report of a 120cm cod taken in this area in recent weeks. The majority of these fish fell for baits of worms and shrimp.

With the low water levels and onset of cold temperatures, local anglers expect the fishing to slow down. Bait-soakers will still encounter a few fish, although at the time of writing it seems the fish may have hit the peak of the pre-Winter feeding activity. One would expect to see a few anglers out on the water over the coming months, as there is the attraction of catching a big cod. The bigger ones tend to become active at this time of year.

Dubbo to Narromine

The Macquarie River has sustained reasonable flow rates in recent weeks. Anglers have encountered a clear river with water temperatures that have gradually dropped through the month. This has slowed down the fishing. Through to early May, anglers casting and trolling lures, took cod around 50cm range mainly downstream of Dubbo. The bait anglers reported a few fish over 50cm that fell to worms and yabbies.

The fishing on the Macquarie typically slows down through the next three months. Anglers will still take a few fish through Winter but often need to persevere. The lack of food in the river at this time often brings the bigger fish out in search of something more substantial. For this reason, baits of big yabbies, grubs and boiled eggs are often used by locals in June.

Photo Caption List:

Photo 1:

Golden perch like this one become increasingly active in the Darling River at this time of year.

Photo 2:

Murray cod, which fed actively this season in the Macquarie River, became very docile towards the end of May.

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