Just when I’m complaining about how limited the options are, a few reports start filtering through, the mind starts to tick, and suddenly I’m off fishing.
There are a couple of reasons for this rejuvenated enthusiasm. Firstly, but to a lesser degree, there is only so much fly-tying, rod-building and general tackle tinkering one can do before serious cabin fever sets in and you start wistfully eyeing off the neighbour’s fishpond.
The second reason is rain!
That’s right, there’s water in the rivers again. Although we didn’t get as much here on the tablelands as those down the hill in Coffs Harbour, Bellingen or further north around Lismore, there was enough to get the rivers flowing again.
On the Western fall, particularly in the Gwydir system, there was even enough for a bit of a flood. No matter what time of year it is, or how cold the water, a good fresh running through the creeks and into the main river is a sure-fire way of stimulating a bit of feeding activity in our native fish.
Although the flows will have subsided by now (unless it rains again) I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a couple of techniques that have served well in this situation – just in case it ever rains again!
Good spots to focus on are barriers such as weirs and causeways where the fish are concentrated as they try to move upstream or simply lie in wait to ambush any prey disoriented by the turbulence.
I usually focus on calmer spots such as little eddies, backwaters and hard up against structure.
Because the water is likely to be quite turbid, dark lures are the way to go in these conditions. If you like using spinnerbaits, select models with dark skirts and hammered Colorado blades.
Bait anglers can also do well drifting an unweighted yabby or shrimp in the same spots.
Another species that can perk up quite a bit as a result of a fresh in the creeks and rivers is carp. Although they are vermin (and rather unpalatable to boot) they do provide excellent sport and are another good distraction to get you through Winter.
These fish will readily take any bait that you can think of but the real fun is to be had on light spin outfits or fly gear.
Using spin gear, small soft plastics such as Sliders, Atomic Fat Grubs, Squidgies and any of the sundry crayfish imitations can all work. The main thing to remember is that you need to get your offering to bumble along right under the carp’s nose.
When they’re feeding, these fish tend to concentrate on an area not much further than 30cm from their noses. They’re not short-sighted, though. They have particularly acute vision (which becomes obvious when you spook them before you even get within casting range) so you need to be particularly stealthy and sneak up on them.
This also counts when chasing carp on fly. In fact, the stream-craft developed by stalking wary carp can put you in good stead when the trout streams open again in October.
Although a lot of people believe that fly selection is particularly critical I’ve found that it’s more the approach and presentation that is important. The majority of ‘refusals’ can be attributed to the angler being spotted by the fish.
Carp can often exhibit the infuriating habit of not ‘spooking’ as you’d expect them to. Often they just simply stop feeding, giving no other outward indication that the game is up.
As far as flies go, nymphs of various sizes and colours, Woolly Buggers and Leeches all work. I still haven’t failed to take fish on small tan Gotchas tied on a No 8 hooks so I stick to these because it doesn’t take me too long to knock up a few before I head out.
If you get the stalking right, your presentation gets the fish’s attention without spooking it and the carp takes the fly, a short, sharp strip is all it takes to set a sharp hook in those big blubbery lips. Now hang on!
You’re about to find out why many think that carp are one of the toughest fish in freshwater. Some of the bigger specimens can be more that a handful on trout gear.Reads: 413