Frosty nights, great days
  |  First Published: July 2005

The frosty weather has set in, making for freezing starts but pleasant warm midday fishing.

A lack of rain in the Central West has kept river systems low while the cold weather has produced docile native fish.

Rain in south-eastern Queensland has pushed a bit of water through the Darling of late, keeping the river murky but a few fish on the chew.

This time of year produces great fishing in this western river system which explains the annual migration of boats and caravans along western highways.

The comfortable conditions and active yellowbelly are a strong attraction for many and definitely worth the drive out west. If I get the opportunity this month I will be heading off to sample the pleasures of outback native fishing at its Winter best.


Fresh water and dropping temperatures have produced some much improved fishing in the Darling system. Bait anglers have fared the best with good catches of golden perch to 2kg and several Murray cod to 20kg. Yabbies, worms and grubs have proved to be the most consistent baits.

I love fishing the Darling from June to October. The weather makes for very comfortable fishing and you get to enjoy the outback atmosphere of fishing the Darling around places such as Louth, Tilpa and Bourke.

The water temperature through these months results in high activity levels from native fish as they build up towards spawning season.

A good strategy when fishing the Darling through these months is to watch the barometer. A barometer rising to high really turns on the fish particularly if it reaches 1020 hPa to 1030 hPa.

I generally watch the four-day barometric forecast on the website www.bom.gov.au . When a good barometer rise is heading our way, I get the fishing gear ready and make plans.

I aim to fish sections of the river that hold some good flow with deep and shallow sections with some structure. The native fish congregate where there is some flow, structure and depth to offer protection and shallow sections that provide good hunting grounds.

I typically target fish with small yabbies, worms and grubs at this time of year. These baits, fished on running rigs in shallow and deep water adjacent to structure, usually produces fish.

When the fish feed less actively, as they will do at various stages through the day, fish closer to the structure and employ techniques like bobbing or moving baits to entice less active fish.


The Lachlan fished well to the end of May and then the fish gradually slowed down as the temperatures cooled. Further downstream, around Hillston, a few fish remained on the go, as typically happens at this time of the year.

Anglers fishing yabbies, worms and grubs have taken a few cod but the yellowbelly have been hard to get.

In the Hillston area anglers should continue to take a few golden perch and cod on bait this month but the fishing further upstream will be a lot slower.

Those chasing cod will find some bigger specimens becoming active over the next few months but be prepared to spend some time between fish.


The fishing has slowed with the onset of Winter in these parts. A few anglers are still taking yellowbelly and cod in the Warren section of the river but things have slowed since May.

This month will be cold in the Central West and one would expect to find few active smaller native fish. The bigger Murray cod will become active as a few frosts turn up but these fish are hard to catch and our breeders, so I tend to leave them be.

Downstream around Warren should produce a few natives for bait anglers prepared to put in the time with grubs, yabbies and worms.

I recently read a NSW fisheries information leaflet on fishing in the Macquarie District for our native species. It was an informative document but one segment disappointed me somewhat.

A quote from the section on targeting native fish was, “While many anglers use setlines to catch golden perch and Murray cod in the western-flowing rivers, often the most effective and exciting fishing method is using attended lines.”

I agree that often the most effective and exciting method is using a rod and reel but I and saddened that Fisheries would even mention the use of setlines in such a document.

Yes, they are legal but are often used illegally and frequently cause a lot of damage to fish that are hooked. I have seen a good number of fish bearing scars, care of being left on a line for too long.

If I were a novice angler reading such a document I would be excused for thinking that setlines are a good way to catch fish out west because it states that many anglers use them. Well here’s a news flash – not that many anglers use them any more because there are better ways of catching fish that provide great results and more enjoyment.

It’s not just about putting fish on the bank, otherwise we would all be using nets.

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