Heading for better times
  |  First Published: August 2004

I REALISED yesterday that we’re well into our third load of wood for the fire.

You’re wondering what this has to do with fishing aren’t you? Well, to have gone through three loads of wood means that many of this year’s cold nights have passed and we’re over the hump and heading for Spring (just one more month to go!).

Down in the brackish water the bass should have done their thing by now and are feeding up and pointing their noses upstream again. But, unless you’ve got the time to pack the car and head down the hill, it’s still going to be a couple of months before we’ll get a chance to tangle with them in the headwaters closer to home.

The cod, on the other hand, haven’t gone anywhere. And that’s why they’re pretty well shut down – a result of those cold nights. They still have to feed but it takes a fair bit of groundwork and a very high barometer to coax them into belting a lure.

By the time the water starts to warm it’ll be lust, not lunch, on the minds of cod and the mottled fellas will be off the cards until December.

So, how do you fill in the time?

If you’re lucky enough to be like your regular columnist, Matt, you’d pack your bags and go north for the season. There’s a lot to be said for reappearing in Spring, resplendent with glowing tan and toting an album’s worth of barra brag photos.

For those who can’t, there’s always building that rod you just can’t buy, or tying fistfuls of flies (try saying that one quickly) in anticipation of opening day.

However, even yours truly tires of sniffing rod-building epoxy and gets the urge to venture forth and face the cold with a rod in hand.

Thankfully, there are some species that stay active here throughout the colder months. Some, like trout, even tend to fire up a bit as the colder water holds more oxygen for them to work with.

Private trout lakes such Dunmore Trout Waters and Uncle Billy’s allow the fervid trouties to treat themselves to a fix during Winter when it’s closed season on the streams.

Another option which I’ve known of for some time but hadn’t tapped into until recently is redfin. The entire Gwydir system above Copeton Dam is chock-full of these little buggers, as is the dam itself and neighbouring Pindari Dam, too.

Being introduced fish, it’s our civic duty to catch as many of them as we can. Thankfully, they even taste great (unlike that other stinking expatriate, carp) and I am always a popular boy when I bring home a feed of redfin for my wife and dog.

A few of us have been putting in the hard yards trying to get regular results on the reddies but everyone knows how erratic they can be. Still, here’s a few things we’ve found.

This is yet another outlet for the finesse style of fishing that has taken everyone by storm. Six- to seven-foot, ultra-light spin rigs definitely give you the edge here.

Earlier in the year, when the water was a bit lower and coloured, traditional hard-bodied lures such as small Halco Scorpions (particularly in the trout patterns) did the trick. A slow, erratically-twitched retrieve kept the lure in the strike zone longer and located the school.

Once we found them, we’d team up and get as many lures into the school at one time as possible. Speeding up the retrieve fired them up even more by bringing out the competitive instinct.

With a bit more flow and dropping temperatures, the water has cleared substantially in the past few months. With the fish being more hesitant in the clear water we switched to soft plastics and the results were instantaneous.

Slow-rolling or hopping bright red, orange or pink plastics (such as the old classic 2” double-tail) is really the goods in these conditions. Good mate Dave Browning has recently discovered Squidgy Spins and has been using the smaller sizes, especially the killer avocado colour, with deadly effect. Most presentations are being taken on the drop as they helicopter down the weed faces or down rocky drop-offs.

An interesting spin-off (pun intended) from this has been the increase in natives being pinned.

The occasional golden perch or small cod has been a welcome surprise and both give good accounts of themselves on the 2kg to 3kg spin gear. Just make sure you slip these guys back in the water for next time!

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