Rivers the worse for wear
  |  First Published: July 2004

THE FROSTS have arrived in Central and Western NSW with our waterways still looking the worse for wear.

The Darling River has experienced a few small rises over past months due to rain in southern Queensland but our Central Western impoundments of Wyangala and Burrendong are dropping by the day and the small release rates have kept the Macquarie and Lachlan rivers very low.

The Darling River has fished the best of the western rivers although anglers have still encountered tough conditions at times. The cold weather has slowed the fishing in the Central Western areas dramatically. However, as it is with the onset of Winter, the big cod are starting getting cranky and a few large fish have been taken by bait anglers in the Lachlan and Macquarie.

This month, given the choice, I will be heading west to the Darling, where the golden perch can really turn it on this time of year. Besides which, the campfire nights and magic Winter days make the experience all the more enjoyable – if you have a good sleeping bag!


The Darling has received a few small rises over the past two to three months but has remained low over recent weeks. The fish have started to respond to the dropping temperatures by becoming more active, as they traditionally do in the Far Western waterways.

Those fishing below weirs and in the deeper holes have taken golden perch to 1.5kg and a few cod to 8kg mostly on small yabbies, worms, grubs and prawns.

July and August are usually good months to fish the Darling. The cooler waters tend to make the carp more subdued and the native fish increasingly active.

The river has remained murky for some months now, meaning bait-fishing is the way to go. However, if the water starts to clear, trolling and casting deep-diving lures are favoured methods for taking quality fish at this time of year. To target the deeper sections that hold some good structure.

The golden perch, although more mobile at this time, will form large schools and congregate around deeper structure.


The cold weather has well and truly arrived and done its best to slow down the fishing on the Lachlan. The small fish have been subdued, as they will be for a few months now, but some large Murray cod have kept anglers on the water.

Anglers around Forbes recently have taken a few cod up to 25kg which fell for classic Winter baits like hard-boiled eggs and grubs. Downstream around Hillston they have taken a few small golden perch and the occasional cod to 5kg with worms, yabbies and grubs accounting for most of the fish in these parts.

Apart from the odd large fish, one would expect the action to remain quiet for another month or two before slight changes in the water temperature kick-start the spawning urge and the cod and yellowbelly get moving.

Worms, grubs, yabbies, hard-boiled eggs or deep-diving lures fished around the deeper sections and structure should get the interest of resident natives.


A slightly low Macquarie River and dropping temperatures have resulted in sluggish native fish in the river around Dubbo. Anglers have reported the occasional cod to 10kg but these have been the result of many hours spent on the water.

A few small cod and yellowbelly have been taken in the river upstream of Warren on yabbies, grubs and worms.

Apart from a few anglers fishing grubs, eggs and yabbies for large fish, this time of year tends to see locals move to warmer areas to find fish. However, if big fish are your thing, this is the time of year to find them. If you do manage to land a good one, please consider releasing it after the battle. They are a resource that takes decades to replace.

With the Louth Races on again in early August, a good number of anglers will be preparing for their annual migration come the end of July. If you haven’t experienced this event yet, do it. The meeting combines a great social event with a few days of top-quality native fishing in the heart of the NSW outback.

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