Break out the warm socks!
  |  First Published: April 2008

It’s about now that most Northern Tablelands veterans start thinking about breaking out the thick socks. This month we will definitely see the overnight and morning temperatures dropping and, given the relatively wet and mild Summer we’ve experienced, I believe the colder spells are going to be more pronounced this Winter.

Having said that, the days at this time of year are generally glorious with sunny, still mornings when the trout generously rise to sip flies off the top and the cod are still patrolling their pools like great, dark torpedoes.

Down on the eastern gorges the heavier Summer storms should have backed off, giving the rivers time to take a breath and clear.

Given that the picture sounds so inviting, you’d better get out there and why not take someone with you? No not ‘old mate’, whose always good for a joke or because he’s the only one with a portable fridge, but someone new to the game.

When I finish writing this tome I’m off to tie some flies for a guiding job in the morning. Two coastal fellows are ducking up to chase some trout. David fished with me last season but his mate is new to this fly game.

One of the joys of guiding is putting clients onto their first fish or first fly-caught fish. I get a real buzz out of it these days. A fortnight ago I guided a couple of folks from down the Hunter onto their first fly-caught trout and both were still hooting it up at day’s end.

Sometimes I do a guiding gig for nothing. A month back, a mate rang me from down Walcha way and asked if I’d like to accompany him on a quick bass trip with a friend who was out from England. Over a couple of hours we got Tom onto a couple of Aussie bass and straightened out the wrinkles in his casting. It was a real pleasure to see the smile on his dial. Even if it’s not your own, adrenalin’s good for the soul.

The point is, we all should get out more and introduce others to the sport we love. Enthusiasm comes easy and we all have areas of knowledge we can hand out.

Kids are an obvious choice but how about dragging some older guy or gal out onto the water for a day? What about giving a talk to a local service club or slide show at the retirement village? The least you can do is keep letting others in on the secret.


My earlier reference to cooler nights and warm days should twig with keen trout chasers. Over the next couple of months we’ll experience the most pleasant and most active trout period.

The last couple of months of the season are my favourites. The fish are feisty, the streams have normally dropped a bit and it’s all go.

With less likelihood of regular storms, the western rivers such as the Wollomombi and Booralong should clear – all the better for angling.

When the water is clearer, I tend to downsize my lures or flies. The smallest Celtas will certainly undo a few rainbows over the coming month.

Fly-tossers should concentrate on medium to small dun patterns of an evening with black the preferred colour. Midday prospecting when the sun is high, stick with favourites such as Bead-head Prince Nymphs in size 14 or a weighted Hare and Copper.

Further east, on the Ebor watershed, bulky dries will still be the ticket on the whitewater while in the pools I’d spend time flicking the likes of Williamson’s Goldfish or pink Woolly Buggers.


Forget about humping your buns up the gorges in 40° heat chasing the greenfish! If you want to hook up with a good cod, now is the time.

Over the past two months regional impoundments have been providing some exceptional fishing.

Lakes Keepit and Copeton have been providing a feast of action with most success coming from the margins as lake levels rise. Copeton has been giving up plenty of good yellowbelly while the cod run at Keepit has been exceptional.

If you’ve never fished our impoundments I couldn’t imagine a better time to get up here and give them a go.

Don’t have a boat? Don’t lose any sleep over it. Most of our dams have walking-friendly shorelines and the way things have been, walking the banks with a box of shallow-running lures could get you just as much action.

I’d be sticking to silver baitfish colours as the water is clearing. If the heavens open and the waters turn muddy, go for patterns in dark or black shades.

Remember spinnerbaits? We all used them before the plastic madness took over. They are prime lures for this type of work, especially in white or green.

Also include a couple of medium-size rubber tails with floating jig heads, either home-made or otherwise.

All our impoundments have great facilities and friendly staff at the gate and the kiosk. This is a terrific time to visit them.


Down the hill, the bass fishing has been a bit touch and go. The very high river levels experienced along the Macleay have really made angling difficult.

Those who have achieved some success have mostly been focusing on backwaters where the colour and current are a little lighter.

I expect the storms to slacken off and the river to start flattening out – great news because the bass will still mostly be holding in the middle reaches between Bellbrook and Georges Junction. User-friendly access points along this stretch of the river are plentiful.

To get a great fishing map of this area with access points highlighted, contact Armidale Outdoors and ask for the Upper Macleay River AFN map. Jock and the staff at Outdoors know the Macleay country pretty well and should be able to give the latest on river heights.

I suggest sticking to small lipless crankbaits or similar in natural tones. Rootbeer-coloured soft plastics rigged Carolina-style are also a great option now.

The deer hunting has been excellent so far and I’d not expect anything less from the fish. Go to it and pack those warm socks.

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