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Hot finale for the trout
  |  First Published: April 2009



Traditionally April spells the start of the frosty season and a projected decline in the native fish action throughout the northern highlands.

However, that is not necessarily bad news. Although traditional walking-the-banks techniques are less effective I have in past issues covered the increased options for Winter trolling.

I’ll do a refresher in a couple of months. We do have a couple of months left on the trout calendar and you’d do worse than spend a couple of days walking the local streams.

TROUT

The trout action will definitely fire up this month.

Although we have experienced the best season for a very long time, it will only get better throughout April and into May.

The waters will be clear and cold and the fish keen to put on condition for the Winter spawning.

Although Walcha has been a little quiet over Summer the Ebor, Nundle and Guyra waters have fished consistently.

Near Nundle, the Sheba Dams have been producing some wonderful rainbows in excess of several kilos.

Some real lunkers have been taken from nearby gorge creeks and although I’ve seen the photos, I’ve been unable to narrow down the location! Anglers can be such cunning so-and-sos.

Ebor will be terrific right through to season’s end. The numbers of fish have been excellent and the quality equally so.

Crowds tend to thin going into the Winter months (guess those coastal anglers don’t like the cold) so you’ll have the streams pretty much to yourself.

As the angling pressure eases, areas such as the Ebor Common start to fire up again. Tread softly and fish lightly to undo the resident fish here, they’ll be full of attitude.

Flick-stickers will do best with small Tassie Devils in the waterfall pools, with lime green and hot pink great colour choices.

Where the water shallows, try hot pink plastic grubs on unweighted hooks. In most instances the weight of the soft plastic will be enough to cast; leave lead-head jigs alone and fish as light as possible.

Small marabou jigs are deadly at this time of year but unless you tie your own, they are difficult to come by. The advantage of marabou over soft plastics, particularly in tight, shallow creeks, is that marabou pulses and wiggles in the slightest current.

Jigs dressed as such will often draw strikes when plastics won’t.

The fur ’n’ feather brigade should look to the evenings for some mayfly and caenid hatches.

As a rule, downsize your dun patterns for the colder months. High-wing, black patterns in 14 and 16 sizes should draw some delicate takes. During the days I’d probably focus on drifting woolly caddis or mayfly nymphs.

NATIVES

The past bass season has been pretty ordinary. The fish never really made it into the gorges or if they did, they suffered from severe lockjaw. Most fish over the past few months have come from the lower reaches of the Macleay River.

It seemed that every time things began to stabilise, Tableland storms unleashed a dirty flow of cold water downstream and the fish were none to eager to push upstream.

Some good catches were, however, recorded around Bellbrook and Lower Creek with the quality of fish consistent. Hopefully the 2009-10 season will prove a little more successful in the higher reaches.

The cod fishing across the New England has proved to be the ‘sleeper’ and we’ve still got a couple of months to tangle with the green fish.

Most anglers have reported plenty of fish from 2kg to 4kg throughout the region. This indicates that across New England the cod population is healthy.

Although river levels have fluctuated over the past four months, the flows have never been detrimental.

The granite country traditionally holds pretty well throughout the Summer with shaded pools and sanctuary for the cod.

If you’re keen to tangle with a late season cod I suggest the Tablelands streams around Glen Innes. The Severn River has always fished well going into Winter, probably even better than it does throughout the Summer.

Try The Willows or head up to the Deepwater River. The Glen Innes Tourism Office publishes a tidy little brochure that gives you plenty of options throughout the Severn Shire.

Slowly, slowly, slowly retrieved poppers will do the business around the shaded weeds and at first light. Alternatively, slowly, slowly, slowly (you get the idea) retrieved spinnerbaits in bright colours are a terrific option throughout the day.

The Western Slopes around Bingara can also produce a few late fish in the Gwydir River. Take the time to explore the country around the small towns of Bingara and Ashford, there are plenty of pockets tucked away where you’ll find some responsive fish.

LAKES

The recent announcement of funding to extend the boat ramp at Chaffey Dam is long overdue. Although the water levels are currently high, during periods of low volume the old ramp was well and truly exposed.

Chaffey is currently fishing a little slow although a month ago there were plenty of silver perch being taken from the bank.

While a few diehards regularly troll up mega-cod at Copeton, Keepit and Split Rock during Winter, few anglers target Chaffey. I feel it’s a sleeping giant in this respect and, given current water levels, I’m going to give the lake a go several times this Winter. More on that another time.

Keepit is fishing OK with a few yellowbelly coming from the Quarry and around Rabbit Island. If you wish to tangle with a few mud puppies just for the hell of it, get a hurry-on. April normally spells the end to the carp activity.

I’ve not heard much around the traps concerning Split Rock so I’ll assume it is pretty quiet. The water levels are steady at present so there’s every chance you’ll pick up a fish or two there.

Troll small minnow patterns through the 2m mark for the better chance. I’d suggest the lower end is still the area of choice.

It won’t be long before we’re all wearing beanies instead of sun hats but that’s just part of the game. Dress up like a tea cosy and get out there!!

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