Not a bad way to end the day
  |  First Published: December 2004

January signals the hottest few weeks of the year but I’m confident that the heat will spark the native fish in the local rivers into action.

It really frustrates me when all the days virtually average up around 35°C and it takes a brave man to sit out there all day, but you have just got to love those hot evenings. The simplest advice that I can recommend is obviously apparent, so make the most of those scorching days and get out there – it’s not such a bad way to end the day.


This month you really are best to turn your attention to redfin. The yellowbelly numbers tend to taper off because of the falling lake level but they will still turn up while targeting the reddies.

If you want to work hard for the goldens, troll small lures deep and as close as possible to any structure. What works well for redfin is to use small lures that can get down past 6m and run a 2” plastic grub a metre in front of the lure off a dropper. I just stocked up with a packet of the tiny Berkley Gulp 2” Minnows and I just know that they will work a treat.

The most popular lure for chasing the reddies trolling with a dropper would have to be the medium-sized Jensen Hot Lips, but I reckon the Aussie-made lures like the 60mm Deep Merlin, 50mm Knol’s Deep Native, 40-50mm AC Invaders and 60mm 30ft minnows work just as well. Preferences aside, they all have their days and all work.

The best areas to chase the reddies in the lake are any points or heavily timbered areas. The big points are always a good start, largely due to the fact that they usually meet some sort of current created by the wave action, great places for the reddies to hunt down their prey.


This month really signals the start of great native fish casting in our bigger rivers and some great dry fly opportunities for trout enthusiasts. The Mitta Mitta, Upper Kiewa, the west branch of the Kiewa, Nariel Creek, Swampy Plains and Indi rivers will all be worth checking out.

This is by far the pick of the months for fly anglers. Hopper and beetle patterns dead-drifted in the shade of overhanging trees during the heat of the day work very well.

An unweighted brown nymph drifted through the faster water late afternoons, and then on dark, fishing the hatch with an appropriate dry to match the hatch is a great approach to take.

The native fishing, primarily for the cod above the Hume on the Murray, usually goes well this month. Bait anglers who primarily use the ‘gun’ bardi grub usually do best but lure anglers can still get among them.

The fast current can make for a tough time, particularly for lure casters, but there are plenty of big cod to make the hard times worthwhile.

For those casting I recommend big, heavy spinnerbaits like the 3/4oz or even 1oz AusSpin Big Natives. Throw them as tight as possible into the willows and fish them down the faces of the branches and timber with the slowest retrieve possible.

If the current is very hard, it can be best to even have one angler casting and the other holding the boat in the current.

Trolling the slower water with divers close to the boat and steered around the timber always seems to do well but you really have to pick your troll runs. Anywhere from just above the backed-up water of Lake Hume to around Tintaldra has good numbers of cod.

Among the cod are just as many trout cod, which are protected, but are great by-catch and solid fighters. Just make sure you know the difference, handle them with gloves, and always release trout cod unharmed.

The Ovens River fished great last January and I can only predict much the same this year. The lower Ovens from North Boorhaman downstream to Bundalong can be fished thoroughly by boat but anywhere else is restricted to a canoe.

There is so much water that is rarely fished with lures because of its tough access, so there is some brilliant casting for Murray cod. Last season I did a few canoe trips there and we took some fantastic river cod.

Casting lures is certainly the most enjoyable technique to take them. In the slower water, crankbaits that dive quickly and cast well are tough to beat. There is such a big selection of divers available and all no doubt succeed but we had best success on the 75mm Knol’s Native, 70mm AC Invader and the 70mm JP Hornet.

The fast water is best fished with spinnerbaits. You just cannot beat the vertical presentations you are able to make with them and the cod love them.


Bryan Barber loves his redfin. Another double hook-up trolling an AC Slim Invader and soft plastic dropper.

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