Season opening looks good
  |  First Published: October 2005

Thanks to a few reasonable falls of rain over past months I’m actually looking forward to the opening weekend of the trout season on October 1 with a bit of optimism.

Not only will this year’s stocking have a good chance to establish but, in many of the Tablelands’ streams, the past two seasons’ introductions have also survived and had a chance to grow out to a worthy size.

With the fish having rested for the duration of the closed season, the fishing always seems to be that little bit easier at this time of year. Greater numbers of fish and cooler water temperatures also help.

It still pays to exercise a little stealth when moving along the bank but you can afford to use larger offerings at this time of year. In streams such as the Wollomombi and those around Guyra and west of Armidale, large Woolly Buggers (normal and cone-head) are often a good selection to start with.

Further east, in the streams around Ebor and Dorrigo I’ll often test the water with a small Bugger but quickly change to a large nymph or dry if I don’t get quick results.

My logic for these selections is a little muddled but I’ll try to explain. Though generally recognised as an attractor (rather than an imitator), I recon Woolly Buggers provide a good representation of yabbies, which are a major source of food in the western drainages as well as in the Wollomombi, where the yabbies also seem to have established themselves.

In the eastern streams I’ll use a Woolly Bugger again for its merits as an attractor but will change to nymphs or dries are more representative of the major prey in these streams if the Bugger doesn’t work.

The difference in food types is also the reason for the difference in growth rates and average fish sizes in these two regions. The abundance of yabbies in the western streams allows these trout to grow faster and they often attain a larger size. That said, I’m yet to see a ‘wild’ fish over 2kg come out of any of these streams.

If you really want a chance at landing a monster trout then your best bet is to fish the dams or, better still, spoil yourself to a weekend at one of the numerous private lakes. One such place is Uncle Billy’s Retreat.


A little while ago I had the pleasure of hosting a few fly-fishing mates from Brisbane who wanted to experience some cold weather (funny how numb fingers and iced-up fly lines can be a novelty for those who don’t have to deal with them regularly) and good trout fishing.

With the streams out of bounds due to the closed season, we decided to lash out and book Uncle Billy’s Retreat, near Ben Lomond, for the weekend.

For once, we lucked in with the weather and despite temperatures below minus 10° at night, the days were clear and sunny and the cold water had brought all the monsters of the lake to the surface.

Watching 5kg-plus trout breaching like whales as they lazily took copepods near the surface is a sight none of us will forget. Of course, fooling them was another matter.

We did manage to land a number of good fish up to 4kg using olive Woolly Buggers, nymphs and Hare and Coppers but the real trophy fish managed to elude us.

This fishery really isn’t a ‘trout brothel’ and the fish can often be even more infuriatingly picky than their wild counterparts.

Not only is the fishing first-class but the accommodation in the cabins is very comfortable and Bill and Sue always make sure you’re welcome. They’ll even offer hints on what flies are working at the time if you ask and can also organise tuition if you’re not confident enough to fly solo.

Anyone interested should contact Bill and Sue on 02 6779 4216 or check out www.unclebillys.com.au .

We’ll be going back the same time next year; there’s a score to be settled with those monsters of the deep.

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