Daylight saving graces
  |  First Published: March 2009

One of the nice things about summer is that you get plenty of time to fish, particularly because of daylight saving.

In Canberra it's a simple matter to slip down to one of the five local urban lakes, all of which are stocked with Murray cod and golden perch, and try for a trophy specimen after work.

If you are really keen you can put in a few hours even before work, enjoying a dawn chorus of birds and watching the mist burn off the water. The lakes also contain large populations of redfin and carp, so there is always a chance of catching something.

It is possible to get farther afield after work. It's a bit over two hours to Eucumbene, 90 minutes to Burrinjuck and two hours to Wyangala, all of which offer splendid fishing opportunities.

Daylight Saving maximises these opportunities and I am delighted to see so many and such a wide range of people taking advantage of it in our region. Nothing pleases me more than to see kids that would otherwise grow up to be overweight, un-exercised, electronically-literate urban greaseballs stuffed full of takeaway food suddenly discover the joys of the outdoor world in general and fish and other wildlife in particular.


In recent times we have seen some remarkably good fun fishing for redfin in all of our urban lakes.

Redfin are pests because they are prolific breeders and can develop enormously disproportionate populations that prey on and compete with more desirable species such as Murray cod, golden and silver perch and trout.

But they actively take lures, bait and flies, commonly in shallow water close to shore, and that makes them fun for anglers of all ages and skills and when they are large enough, they are jolly good to eat.

This year the hot weather has seen vast numbers of redfin gathering in the shallows looking for food.

They assemble in schools ranging from just a handful to many thousands and can be worked into a feeding frenzy with ridiculous ease. Once you have caught one it is common to be able to go on and catch hundreds, sometimes ceasing only when you are too tired to catch more.

Cricket-score catches have become the norm, even for inexperienced anglers.

Brothers Nathan and Daniel Walker are typical. Recently they fished over two days in Lakes Tuggeranong and Burley Griffin, accounting for at least 500 redfin on soft plastics and hardbodies.

Most of the fish were from 10cm to 30cm but some were over a kilo and all provided a lot of fun.

On the same weekend another group fishing Burley Griffin landed 200 redfin, with eight over a kilo and two other anglers reported fish of 1.2kg and 2kg among big bags. Regular Phil Brumby has had a couple of fish measuring 52cm and one Burley Griffin kayak angler claims to have caught fish to 57cm.

I met a lady recently who was taking eight children down to Lake Ginninderra. Armed with worms and lures, seven of the eight ankle-biters caught at least one redfin and the charming little blonde mite who missed out told me with breathless excitement how she ‘nearly catched one’. The delight on their faces from such simple pleasure was great to see.

I met a Dad who knew nothing about fishing but wanted to introduce his two young sons to the sport so I armed him with some simple lures and found out later that the boys caught 22 redfin.

Incidentally, for those worried about unduly large catches of fish, remember that it is a good management strategy to fish redfin hard to help keep the population in balance with the available food supply. Those who don't want to kill unwanted fish can always return them alive to the water from which they were taken.

Contrary to popular myth, redfin can be returned alive in ACT and NSW waters so those constantly peddling the myth that you have to kill redfin, take note. A similar law applies to carp and if you don't believe it, check with DPI Fisheries head office in Sydney.


There have been reasonable catches of golden perch in Blowering, Googong, Wyangala and Canberra's lakes on spinnerbaits, deep-divers, soft plastics, yabbies, scrub worms and shrimps. Live shrimps, caught in traps using aniseed soap as bait, have been especially effective.

Ironically, in some areas redfin have been a problem, latching onto lures before golden perch do.

It's been a good time for cod, too. One way to overcome the redfin problem and to attract larger cod has been to use ultra-large lures such as the bigger AC Invaders or Custom Craft deep-divers. They have been pretty successful trolled in all of our local waters and especially in Burrinjuck.


Trout fishing in the mountain lakes also has been very satisfying.

Eucumbene and Jindabyne rose over new ground around Christmas and holidaymakers had a splendid run of fish feeding in the shallows.

That's eased off a bit but there are still good fish to be had, especially in the early mornings, late afternoons and at night.

Night bait fishers have fared best with mudeyes (now at their peak) scrub worms, bardi grubs and Power Bait. Most of the fish have been rainbows averaging about 800g with a scattering of larger browns.

Trollers have done well mostly early and late in the day and mostly with lead-core line with small minnows, spoons, Flatfish and Tasmanian Devils. About 70% of the catch has been rainbows with some big browns taken trolling deep and slow just before dark.

Fly fishers have had a good run with midge, caddis and grasshopper patterns useful during the day and Mrs Simpson, Craig’s Nighttime, Fuzzy Wuzzy, Hamill’s Killer and various mudeye patterns worth a try at night.

Boat anglers nymphing in the wind lanes with slow-sink lines during the day have taken some good fish.

All in all, it's been pretty satisfying fishing in the region and a nice antidote to the daily dose of bad economic news.

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