A milestone day
  |  First Published: December 2003

I HAVE just had a great day! My three-year-old son just caught his first fish all on his own, trolling a lure out at Dumaresq Dam, near Armidale.

Not that it was really anything to write home about – a 15cm redfin that he barely knew was on his line, but it was a real fish and he hasn’t shut up about it. I was expecting a lot from such a little fella, to put up with being in a canoe with his old man for three hours, but he was great. It was a special afternoon that we shared out on the water and hopefully it is the first of many fish to come for him. I guess he doesn’t have much choice, really…

It is good to see a few fish getting about after such a long drought. There have been some storms about but it remains to be seen just how long it will take to get the rivers working properly again. Lakes out to the west, like Copeton and Pindari, as well as deep holes in the rivers, have held numbers of fish over the dry times.

Once the rivers come back to normal levels these fish will tend to redistribute into areas they haven’t been seen for a couple of years. At the moment, the problem is that the water table is so low that when we do get a fresh through a creek, the water quickly drops down to the drought level. It will take a lot of rain to remedy that.

Given that the rain does continue, the Summer fishing prospects certainly look very good. Through November some anglers I know happened on good numbers of cod out on the Gwydir upstream of Copeton while chasing redfin and goldens. Now that the season is open you will be able to target them.

The main bass river in the area, the Macleay, has already had some small ‘freshes’ and it should be right on target, too, with that Summer rain that has been promised. You really need a good flow through these mature rivers to fish them properly anyhow, my choice being a two-person canoe, and it’s a lot more fun when you are not restricted to a single hole.


The rainbow trout are still going strong in a few streams, where they have been stocked with larger fish. Those streams in reality are too few in number to give them publicity but suffice to say if you spend a bit of time casting around the Ebor area you are bound to find a bunch of them sooner or later. That cuts it down to about 20-something waterways!

That’s not to say that there aren’t fish in their normal habitats. Just about every time I visit a stream I have found a few small drought survivors, so the odd fish that was released as a fry has made it through the dry time. They are just few and far between, so it’s wise to practise catch and release until more fish are liberated through these systems.

I haven’t seen a single lure cast at a trout all season, as more and more people show an interest in fly-fishing. I am very lucky that at the moment I have a few nice fish to show them and I will take that kind of work when it is presented, especially when I know we have a fair chance of catching some fish as well.

Streamer flies have been the stand-out for the start of the season, as they so often are. Wooly Buggers, especially in the black and grizzly colouration, are the best producers and it is little wonder that I call it my all-time favourite trout fly, especially when it regularly takes good-calibre fish when others fail. Long live the Woolly Bugger!

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