The warming rays of September transform a Winter wonderland on the Central Tablelands.
What was old and grey is now fresh and green. Your spirit seems to lift with that first warm morning of Spring, you feel confident that Winter winds and grey days are not gone but you know these days are numbered.
Waterways are changing, too. The shallows of Windamere, Burrendong and Wyangala dams are warming.
North-facing banks and bays receive the most sun at this time of year, kicking the food chain into gear, and high-order predators with fins are not far behind.
When targeting golden perch in September, especially in Windamere, you can really narrow down your search areas.
Target shallow areas close to deep water.
These areas are usually associated with a bend in the old river bed. The golden perch spend most of the Winter out among the trees and open water offshore but as the water temperature rises and the baitfish and shrimp start to multiply in shallow water, the golden perch will follow.
Skirted jigs have been a revelation to a few of us over the past couple of years at this time and these are among the first lures I tie on.
I think the advantage these jigs have over other offerings is their lifelike appearance in the water and their ability to be fished slowly and close to the bottom – just the ticket for a golden perch coming out of the depths of Winter.
Lipless crankbaits and neutrally buoyant deep divers around 50mm to 60mm long are also good options.
The activity of golden perch in Burrendong and Ben Chifley will be closely associated with the movements of small redfin, although they too will have a tendency to move up into shallow, warmer water.
Hauling big redfin up from the depths on light gear is great fun.
The big ones over 40cm give a great account of themselves, circling under the boat like mini-tuna, tail beats transferring through the rod rapidly.
Drifting and jigging to schooled reddies can be very productive.
Ice jigs, small stainless slugs, large redfin bobbers and soft plastics all have their day, it’s just a matter of some experimentation to find out what’s working best.
Remember to adjust the size and weight of your jig according to drift speed because you want to be bobbing straight under the boat.
Targeting the bigger ones can be difficult at times as weight of numbers with the smaller ones is just too great.
Sometimes the bigger ones will sit off to the side or underneath the bigger schools, no doubt grabbing the odd small one as you fish.
Casting a heavy, sinking fish-profile lure off to the side of the main school and working it vigorously back from the bottom is one little trick I have learnt over the years.
Warming waters also have a positive effect on the trout waters in the district.
Thompsons Creek Dam has some great polaroiding opportunities, given the right conditions.
Early mornings are best. Try to keep the sun behind you and walk slowly at a heightened position to the water, scanning as you go.
Be ready to cast at any time because the rainbows will be moving quickly, though the browns will be a little slower.
Lightly weighted soft plastics or small hand-tied jigs can be deadly, as can nymphs for the fly fishers.
Lake Lyell is a great spot to fish at this time of year, especially if you want to target a nice brown. They will have returned from spawning and will be feeding up big-time.
Casting lures to or along the edges in the early morning or late afternoon is a great way to target these fish. Small minnows, yabby patterns, soft plastics and flies are all worth a try.Reads: 1089