Don’t put away that beanie!
  |  First Published: September 2008

The sunny days are coming but don’t put that beanie away just yet.

I’ve always been cautious about becoming confident with New England weather and although our water pipes froze only a couple of times this year, I have seen snow up here in December so the woolly jumper is never far away.

Next month marks the return of the trout season and the warming of the Tablelands that brings the Spring natives back on the go.

There are some exciting moves afoot in terms of local operators and national park improvements to river access but more of that down the track.

But what of September? Despite a relatively mild Winter, the fishing didn’t quieten down to the extent I had forecast. In fact I’d reckon it has probably been one of the most consistent Winter angling periods we have seen for some time.

Although the cod season has now closed, the greenbacks were co-operative right until the death. Split Rock Dam gave up several metre-plus specimens over the colder months and I’ve had confirmed reports of similar fish from Copeton and Pindari Dams.

The majority were taken on the troll with extra-large lures, a trend that is catching on up north and down in the southern impoundments as well.

A couple of jokers I know from Tamworth put to the test techniques they learnt on an Autumn barra trip and pulled several very nice cod to the boat. Too often freshwater trollers take the ‘salty approach’ of putting out a spread and opening up the throttle.

The Tamworth crew focused on a small area of the dam and worked it thoroughly with lure manipulation from their rod tips.

If you’ve never been up north, and you really should go, we’ll cover such tactics in a trolling special I’m putting together for the Summer. There are some interesting observations, not just my own, that have come to light.

It seems that all the northern rivers, the Macintyre and Severn in particular, continued to provide some solid cod over recent months. While that doesn’t mean much now the season is closed, it should fire up most of us for the season opening in December.

Many of these great western rivers have travelling stock reserves where access is easy and legal.

There are plenty of great cod waters throughout New England and we’ll cover them in more detail in the November column. I find it difficult to understand that more ‘salty’ anglers who wax lyrical about chasing a big jew have never discovered the attraction of big cod. Their loss, I suppose.

Anyhow, this month is probably the lowest ebb of the New England freshwater calendar. The trout are still off limits, the cod season has come to a screaming halt and the natives have all pretty much gone to sleep.


The brightest news is that all the dams are still firing, maybe on two cylinders, but still firing. I’ve mentioned it in recent columns but Dumaresq Dam outside Armidale is open to angling with some exceptional trout on offer.

I’ve also heard of a couple of regulars that have been taking some nice bass.

The bass seem to prefer fresh worm baits fished under a bubble float around the weeds at the upper end of the dam.

The trout, some large ex-hatchery brood stock among them, should respond to small lures around the boat ramp and dam wall. Frankly, most of them taste like wet cardboard so enjoy the fight and let ’em go!

The redfin appear to have been a little quiet. I’ve not heard of many blokes getting into them, although I’ve not heard of many blokes trying, either.

Normally at this time of year you’ll hear of a few good sessions at Malpas Dam, particularly around the upper end. Again, fresh worms under a bubble float in the shallows are a standby tactic.

The Gwydir River near Bundarra is usually good for a few redfin but the flows have been a tad lower than usual. I expect that a lot of these fish have pulled back down into Copeton.

With the yabbies shut down, it is not unusual for the river fish to drop back downstream, waiting for the Spring river flows and the yabby/shrimp activity to increase.

So despite the gloomy September outlook, where to head for a fish or two?


I guess with current weather conditions and water levels your best bet would be to head up to Pindari Dam. It’s a pleasant enough spot which at this time of year is pretty quiet.

I’d expect the upper end of the lake to produce best by trolling or casting small shallow-running lures.

Down south, I’d be digging a bucket of worms and ducking up to Nundle.

Either hit the trout up at Sheba Dam or fish the dam wall at Chaffey. While you cannot legally fish the wall itself, the area below the lookout should provide some action.

I’ve taken some good yellowbelly there, even during the Winter, and if all else fails, you’ll probably get stretched by a couple of mega carp.

September is probably our slowest month but you’ll find a little fun if you take a run out to the lakes. Rug the kids up and hit the banks and no doubt they’ll thank you for it!

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