Mild Winter Makes Good Fishing
  |  First Published: June 2008

Here across the Tablelands we still haven’t had a really hard winter and so the fishing has still been reasonably good. As predicted last month reports of some good-sized cod continue to trickle in.

Most successful cod outings at this time of year concentrate upon the lower altitude rivers out west. Wherever the rivers trickle out of the New England gorges to hit the western plains you’ll find better success. The Gwydir west of Bingara, the lower Severn River as well as the Namoi, all offer easy bank walking for lure flicking. Although spinnerbaits in bright colours seem to draw the most attention don’t ignore tossing a larger sized surface lure even during the day.

In the last few years a dedicated band of local green fish stalwarts have taken to targeting winter cod in local impoundments. Although developed in the Keepit and Split Rock dams the results are enough to get most keen boaties out there even in the frosty weather. The preferred option is trolling with big lures.

The key to consistently boating these big fish is persistence. Lengthy trolling sessions between 10am-2pm bring the most results, good news when the frosts are thick upon the ground. Concentrate upon the broad, featureless flats with about 5-7m of water depth. It seems crazy to take up positions away from obvious structure at this time of the year but you can’t argue with the results!

Lures that dive to the 5m mark and are over 100mm in body length are the models of choice. Colours in the darker range such as black/purple or black/red generally bring a response. Trolling speeds should be kept particularly slow allowing the lure time to inch its way through the water. Fish will generally be hugging the bottom so well constructed lures with strong bibs are necessary to handle banging through the rocks.

I know anglers such as Dave Hodge and others take their share of cod from Copeton Dam or Split Rock throughout the winter months. Certainly the redfin always seems to kick into gear over winter and Copeton holds populations of these fish, which undoubtedly the cod find tasty as well.


If you haven’t caught a good trout or two by now you’re running out of time with the season ending very soon. The past season was better than previous years rainbows. The dry periods were broken by some reasonable rains around the middle of the season, which kept the fish on the hop and water temperatures cool.

Hopefully the showers across several districts such as Walcha will set things up for a better season in 2008-9. Temperatures across the region did appear milder over summer and this can only be good news for some areas where the fish have been stressed over the last few years.

If you can’t fight the urge to give the trout a miss then consider hitting Dumaresq Dam out of Armidale. This old water supply for the town is now a popular angling venue with trout, bass and redfin. Being a General Trout Dam it is open to angling all year round.

The banks do carry a fair weed belt, which can limit shore based angling but a canoe really opens up your options. Winter temperatures tend to kill off a fair bit of this weed over the cooler months. Armidale Outdoors (02 6772 7744) hire canoes if you don’t own one. However productive waters, such as the dam wall and southern shoreline can also be accessed on foot.

Fly anglers will find some good options between the dam wall and boat ramp. The shallows here are well frequented by small redfin and some sizeable trout move into here at dusk and first light. Midge patterns or medium sized black streamers will usually draw some interest. The weedy nature of the dam restricts the use of larger lures with trebles. Small spinnerbaits or weedless rigged soft plastics are the shot for lure flickers.

You may need more than a bent pin and a worm to find some fish around here at the moment. Even so there are plenty of options and despite the chilly starts the days now are mostly fine and sunny. If you don’t believe me then get up here and have a look!

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