Wind is the bane of most anglers and July is the start of our windy season.
Usually by the end of July you can expect three out of every five days to be windy, varying from strong gusts to genuine blow-the-dog-off-its-chain material. I always try to look on the positive side when it comes to fishing in these conditions, but I must tell you, it’s hard in July and August.
The best way to approach these conditions is to use the wind to your advantage. Where possible, avoid casting into the teeth of the gale. Use points jutting into impoundments, stay on the lee side and cast out across the wind. Let the wind do the work for you, especially if you are fly-fishing. Maintain contact by stripping slowly and occasionally throwing an up-wind mend in the line. Lake Lyell has some classic points for this sort of fishing.
When I mentioned three out of five windy days in July, around Carcoar Dam the ratio is closer to four out of five – the wind farm is not there for good looks! Getting to Carcoar on the fifth day is not always possible, so most times you just have to just grit your teeth and bear it.
For those brave souls willing to put up with the conditions, the fishing can be good for big redfin, just don’t expect to catch them in big numbers. Half a dozen between two anglers is the average. Intelligent use of a quality sounder is the key: Spend some time just looking around, find your fish first then make a presentation to suit.
If the fish are scattered about, trolling is the best option. If the fish are tight, some form of vertical presentation would be better. Baits such as worms and small yabbies can be worth their weight in gold on the tough days. Don’t discount the shallow water, either; I have caught plenty of schooled fish in two to three metres of water.
Most anglers tend to give the native fish a miss over Winter, myself included. However, I do know of a select few who persist with bait over this period and do quite well. Windamere Dam produces some bragging-size silver perch and catfish during the depths of Winter. From what I can gather, the key seems to be gently sloping banks that face north. Maybe the extra sunlight and warmer water encourage these fish into the shallows.
Quality scrub worms, the fresher the better, seem to be the best bait. As with most forms of fishing, keep lines, sinkers and hooks as light as possible for the conditions. I am told silver perch to 3kg are not out of the question. Catfish are also prone to capture over the Winter on fresh scrub worms. The fish tend to come from rocky points with a good number of trees.
As for lures and flies, if you want to go that way all I can suggest is you retrieve very slowly. Try repeat presentations and maybe dose your flies and plastics up with some form of catch scent.
The past year has been a lean one as far as water goes but we have had some rain and water conditions are slowly improving. Oberon Dam brown trout have certainly suffered. Oberon’s browns do most of their feeding in shallow water around weed beds but with the water dropping for much of the year, most of the weed beds have died off. This takes away a major feeding area and the browns have lost some weight. Fish around 50cm to 60cm are weighing in at only 1kg to 2kg where normally they would be pushing 2.5kg to 3kg. Hopefully with the little rain we have had and with some good Spring rains, the browns can bounce back.
Rainbow Trout have fared much better in Oberon. They tend to feed a lot more in open water on smelt and other titbits that accumulate through the feeding layers.
If you can brave the harsh winds, Thompsons Creek Dam turns on some wonderful trout fishing over July. The rainbows start what I call a false spawn. The poor buggers have no rivers to run up so they swim madly around the shallows of the dam looking for inflows.
The fish do not feed as such but can still be caught on glo-bugs and very small flies. All the fishing is very visual so it’s very exciting but frustrating at the same time. You will see a lot more fish than you will actually catch.
Fish your glo-bugs and nymphs dead-drift. Never take your eye off the fly and pay close attention to any fish in the area. This is very hard to do and takes a lot of concentration. Lure-fishing is almost a waste of time on these fish, although I have seen the odd fish caught on brightly-coloured spinners and big Rapala minnows.
The ethics of this style of fishing are open to interpretation. Talk to different anglers and you will get conflicting views. TCD is classed as trophy water by NSW Fisheries so a two-fish limit applies. The fish cannot successfully spawn and it is a put-and-take fishery. I have found from previous experience that trout at this time of the year do not taste very good anyway, so I would encourage anglers to handle their catch carefully and return them to the water as quickly as possible.
Stay tuned to 2KY Hi-Tide bright and early on Saturdays, usually between 5.30am and 6.30am for up-to-date reports.
The new Viking Talisman lure in red and black is starting to forge a real reputation as a gun redfin lure. Matt Hickson holds up one of many he caught on Ben Chifley Dam recently.
Rainbow trout don’t eat much over the spawning period, though they can still be caught. This TCD rainbow was caught on a glo-bug fly which imitates the eggs of other spawning fish.
Oberon Browns are lacking in condition after long periods of low water and the rigours of spawning. Hopefully some more rain will give them a kick-start through Winter.Reads: 540