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It’s time for trout
  |  First Published: November 2004



If you still haven’t been out and fished for trout this season, now’s the time to do it.

Although water levels are still pretty low, the scorching temperatures of Summer are yet to come and the fish are still active. The way things are looking, we’re probably in for another dry Summer and water levels in the trout streams are going to be far from optimal.

But there are still plenty of trout about in the right places. The best places to look are up in the high country streams around Guyra and Ebor, as well as around Walcha. In these areas the water stays relatively cool, even when the flow is down a bit.

With the abundance of insects hatching out on the warm days, fly-fishing is quickly becoming the best method for tricking good trout. With the abundance of food around for the fish, matching the hatch with small nymphs or dries such as Royal Wulffs and Elk-Hair Caddis also becomes far more effective than using the larger attractor patterns such as Woolly Buggers that are effective early in the season.

Remember what I suggested last month, though: If the action is a bit quiet, don’t be afraid to mix things up a little and try a larger (or smaller) than normal offering.

STILL SEEING RED(FIN)

After a short quiet spell over the depths of Winter (more my choice than the fishes’) redfin are back on the menu. With a few more months of experimenting under the belt I can happily report that the techniques I covered in a previous issue are really bringing home the results.

Bright soft plastics (red, orange, pink and white have all had their moments) slowly twitched along just off the bottom are providing consistent results, while the real stand-out has been the Squidgy Spin. A constant ‘lift-drop’ retrieve has really been doing the damage with most fish taking the bait as it helicopters down drop-offs or between weed beds.

If you’re looking for a place to try out these techniques, any of the streams that flow into the upper part of the Gwydir River are good places to start. Copeton and Pindari dams are also great options if you have a boat.

A technique that caused a buzz with dam anglers a few years ago was working ice jigs. Although most have forgotten these little rippers since the rubber boom, they still work. Simply find a school on the sounder and start jigging.

You’ll also pick up the odd golden perch with this technique and the same tactic works on the bass in the eastern impoundments as well.

BASS BACK

Since mid-September there have been reports of good bass caught up higher in the Macleay system. After having a chat with Cindy McRae from West Kunderang (there’s someone with their finger on the river’s pulse), it seems the general consensus is that a lot of bass couldn’t make their way down to the brackish water this year.

Many fish showing signs of being still plump with roe have been caught in the headwater creeks. This is bad news on the breeding front but good news for those wondering when the fish would be ‘back’ in there favourite holes.

Now that the water is getting warmer these fish will come out with a bang as their metabolisms speed up and their appetites kick in.

I think it’s time to get into those gorges again. I’ve been madly tying bass flies and my backpack is dusted off and ready to go, so next issue I’ll let you know how I went.

SOCIAL SCENE

One of the local highlights I forgot to mention last issue was the St Kilda Fishing Club's Fisherama, held over the October long weekend.

Love 'em or hate 'em, fishing competitions have for a long time been an integral part of local fishing scenes and most likely will remain so.

With the recent proliferation of catch-and-release competitions, the impact on our fisheries is also being reduced, at the same time providing a public message encouraging people to embrace sustainable fishing practices.

This year, for the fist time, Fisherama also had a catch-and-release section. Reports indicate the organisers were having trouble keeping up with demand for cameras and tape-measures, so I'd recon it's already a success.

An aspect I find particularly useful about fishing competitions is that they provide a good 'barometer' of what's happening in our waters. As far as reports and opinions go, the results from the Fisherama don't bode well for the upcoming season.

Despite the great turn-out of competitors (200 people registered this year), organisers felt that the numbers and quality of fish brought in were below par. An exception was the weigh-in of several larger than average silver perch. This has been put down to the great number of farm dams being stocked over the past few years and finally bearing fruit.

Also coming from farm dams on the eastern catchments were a number of bass. Despite the fact that many of the dams being stocked are over 1000 metres in elevation, bass seem to be thriving in them if the size and obvious health of some of the fish weighed in is any indication.

Overall, the organisers should be commended for running such a successful competition. The catch-and-release section has been a great addition and with a few bugs ironed out should attract more competitors (also from a broader spectrum) to this already successful event.

First time fly-angler Dr Austin Curtin, of Lismore, enjoyed the New England rainbow trout on opening weekend in October.

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