The coming month really sees the arrival of the winter chill across the Tablelands. To date we’ve not experienced extended winter conditions, things have been a little mild. However July and August usually see the arrival of the westerly winds and with these a plummet in daily temperatures.
So what is the average fisho to do? Well the trout are off limits and the bass have headed east. The lakes tend to quieten down so how about some river cod!
In recent years the stocking efforts of many angling bodies have re-established the New England region as Australia’s premier cod fishery. Whilst the majority of triple figure specimens come from the south of the state, unless you like welding your backside to a tinny seat the options are limited.
Up here in the north of the state we have the pick of methods for targeting greenfish. Many anglers continue to explore our impoundments with sounders and big trolling lures but the majority of die hard cod chasers walk the banks.
With lower water temperatures and inactive baitfish, most of the cod will be staying shut down. The key at this time to hitting river fish is to target structure again and again and again with slowly retrieved lures. Fish won’t chase your offering far from their lairs so your need to employ lures that hold as long as possible in the strike zone.
Traditional river offerings such as spinnerbaits are out - they sink too fast. Large soft plastics are okay but you’ll need to use finesse or resin heads to slow the sink rate. My preferred option is large, buoyant hard bodied lures.
By carrying a few models with different sized bibs and also adjusting the retrieval rates your can ‘set’ the depth at which you explore a pool. Some models such as the Stump Jumpers with their interchangeable bib systems simplify the number of lures you’ll need to carry.
An alternative is to rig extra large soft plastics on unweighted hooks and simply rely upon the weight of the lure to cast. These ultra slow sinkers can be dynamite and the unweighted body really allows you to manipulate with the rod tip. Rip the imitation around with savage movements of the rod.
There are a range of possible options and the following river sections should offer some good sport over the coming few weeks.
Peel River – the lower sections of the Peel downstream of Tamworth continue to give up some fine cod. In recent years the numbers of fish appear to have increased and offer a terrific fishery close to a major town. The sections upstream of the Namoi junction are favoured by many and on the Tamworth-Gunnedah road you’ll find a few access points such as Travelling Stock Reserves. Alternatively get in a canoe for a great overnight trip.
Namoi River – upstream of the Manilla Weir you’ll find many kilometers of good angling. Most runs through private property and local landholders are none too happy with illegal trespassing. However a courteous approach can often get you onto some of the best cod water around.
Severn River – many years ago I used to chase deer along the upper reaches of the fine stream. However now it is generally cod that draw me back to these waters. Upstream of Pindari Dam you’ll get amongst some cod if you’re prepared to walk. This is gorge country so be well prepared for a big day out. Explore all the major pools as well as the smaller ones. You may be pleasantly surprised!
If leg stretching isn’t your idea of fun then hit the lakes. We’ve discussed winter tactics for cod on the local impoundments before; suffice to say trolling really large medium divers around the periphery is the go. The mid depths and middle reaches of Copeton is as good a place to start. Around Keepit or Pindari I’d be hitting the river banks upstream for results.
Some regular winter cod chasers prefer to target structure and cast lures but you’ll cover a hell of a lot more water trolling which seems to be the go in the colder months.
The next two months are also my favourite time to hit the trout of our local stillwaters. Whilst public waters such as Sheba Dams and Dumaresq Dam are popular the best fishing will be had in the private lakes across the Tablelands. Here you can expect some sensational midge hatches as well as cruising trout, particularly of an evening.
You’ll pay a few bucks for the privilege to fish these venues but its money well spent. Uncle Billies and Dunmore near Guyra offer a great combination of angling opportunities and facilities. Further south Lothorian near Nowendoc is another fishermen savvy operation and you can almost cast from the front verandah. Contact either the Guyra or Tamworth Tourism offices for contact details.