NOVEMBER heralds the start of our storm season. Clear days give way to a huge cloud build-up from the west, the storms usually hitting late in the afternoon before clearing shortly afterwards.
Anglers need to be aware of the dangers these storms bring and the opportunities they deliver. Before and directly after storms can be red-hot times to be on the water – it’s the ‘during’ period we need to avoid at all costs!
Trout anglers on the Central Tablelands are well aware of the insect hatches that occur as thunderheads gather during the day. Ant hatches are by far the most prevalent and some of the best dry-fly fishing can occur at this time of year.
After a storm has passed can also be a good time to fish. The wild and woolly wind and rain can quite often dislodge and disorientate small insects, blowing or washing them into the water. Trout take full advantage of this, moving around in open water mopping up the struggling insects.
Native fish also cash in on the storm bonanza. Some of the most red-hot bites I have had with native fish have occurred just before a storm broke. If you do leave the run home too late, its better to sit out the storm on the bank as these are usually short-term conditions that last only 10 minutes or so. A sheltered, overhanging earthy bank with few trees on it is probably the safest spot; under the tallest tree in the area the most dangerous, and standing out in the open with a graphite fishing rod pointing upwards is positively suicidal.
Juvenile redfin make up an important part of the food chain for many fish at this time of year. Lakes such as Burrendong, Carcoar, and Ben Chifley are chock-full of these tasty morsels. At this time of year they should have reached a healthy bit size, 30mm to 50mm long. A shad-shaped hard-bodied lure such as a Tilsan Bass or Rapala Shad Rap in a redfin pattern is a dead ringer for pin fry redfin.
These small redfin quite often get pushed hard up against the bank by the fish. Bank casting or trolling are good ways to get action.
The open water well away from the bank can also have schools of these pin fry herded up by large redfin and other fish. Birds such as cormorants and gulls cash in on the abundance as well.
Fishing around these schools is always a bit hit-and-miss – quite often the action is over by the time you get there. If not, make some long casts with your shad-shaped lure, ripping it back through the school. Another option is to drop a heavy slug-type lure through the school to the bottom, then rip it back to the top. Quite often you can get hit on the drop. So try to maintain some contact with the slug as it drops through the school. Jigging with bait is also an option.
Let me paint a picture. Not with paint and brush but with words and experience. It’s a beautiful late Spring afternoon on Lake Windamere. The grass is green and the shadows are lengthening quickly. It’s mid-week and there is not another soul in sight. You could hear a pin drop. The whirr of line through your baitcaster, the gentle splash of your Deception Shrimp hitting the water and the reel clicking into gear almost sound out of place.
Three-quarters of the way back, a free turn on the handle, then a fraction of a second later a barely audible sound like somebody clicking their fingers once under water – then nothing, just the slow rhythmic beat of your Deception as it continues up the slope. You pick the lure up off the water and make the next cast. Then you see it, at your feet, two small whirlpools at either end of a boil the size of a basketball. What happens next is a nearly a foregone conclusion. Three senses fully engaged, what a buzz!
I have shared this experience with many anglers from around the country for more than 10 years. It’s something I will never tire of.
I have been moving in bass circles of late with various competitions and such and have been surprised by some of the reactions to a golden perch catch. Each to their own, I guess, but I know a Windamere afternoon in November would change a few opinions.
Trout anglers in November start their annual migration to lake shores in the late afternoons. It’s a great time to be on the water. Fly anglers make up for the bulk of them, and rightly so. Insect activity is full-on.
The afternoon starts slowly with a smoke and a friendly chat with a fellow angler. As the sun drops below the horizon, attentions focus on catching fish.
Most anglers on waters such as Oberon Dam and Thomsons Creek Dam start with a wet fly such as a Mrs Simpson or Craig’s Nighttime. I like to have an each-way bet and go for a tandem rig of a Muddler Minnow on top and a small, soft-hackle wet on a dropper tied off the bend of the Muddler hook. A fish on either one will see me changing to that single offering.
Easterly winds pushing in early in the evening will see plenty of anglers leaving, myself included. A warm northerly breeze will see a late night filled with singing drags and yee-hahs.
Remember to stay tuned to Australia’s No 1 fishing and boating radio program, Hi-Tide, on 2KY for up-to-date Central Tablelands reports.
Respected anglers such as Rodger Miles of Bendigo travel every year to Lake Windamere to catch golden perch. It’s good to share a boat with such anglers. Quite often you get another spin on an area you think you know.
Simone Kerrison used one of the new Viking Talisman deep divers to catch this pin fry chaser. Green and black barred-pattern lures are popular at this time of year in redfin dams.
Rainbow trout such as this Lake Lyell storm rider are great fun on fly. This one fell for a No 14 Black Ant imitation. Ant feeders on Central Tableland waters are as picky as they get – the right size of fly is very important.Reads: 912