If the past month has been any indication, the tail end of the 2010 New England Winter is really going to have some sting.
Although late coming, the frosts have been pretty steady with plenty of mornings well into the sub-zero range. Pleasingly, the days have been stable with some excellent conditions.
The consistent barometer during later Winter period is a signal to get out after the local cod. Before the season closes for the three-month off-season from September 1, conditions should be excellent to tangle with a few green fish.
Keen cod aficionados know that this time of year is an excellent time to snare a trophy fish.
Prior to breeding, the bigger female fish can become quite active in an attempt to put on condition. However, for these fish it is all about optimizing energy spent for the energy gained from a meal and the key is to offer them a super-sized menu.
In the western impoundments there is a growing band of trollers who target these Winter fish with oversized hardbodies. The offerings cannot be too large, the bigger the better!
Although some may feel it is difficult to get these lures down deep, most of the late Winter fish will be taken in only 2m to 3m.
Fish are in the shallows for several reasons. Because the water has been cold for some time, most of the smaller baitfish head into the shallows where the brief sunlight penetrates.
The cod will follow to beef up for the coming nuptials. Females of breeding age will also be seeking out the tree hollows and crevices where they deposit their eggs and shallower water will suit the young fish in Spring.
Lures should be large with a slow, wide swinging action. Don’t be afraid to try some of the blue-water lures though you’ll be a little restricted because many are designed for high-speed trolling. Bodies should be between 15cm and 30cm.
During the colder months there is less weed growth and turbidity so our lakes and rivers are clearer than usual. With that in mind I’d aim for natural colours such as silver/brown or silver/green.
Look for gradually shelving bays, especially those protected by higher points at the mouth. This tends to reduce wave action from the wind and lower turbidity, offering cleaner water for the young cod. Breeding females seek out such areas.
A sounder will undoubtedly assist in following the 2m-3m contour but careful observation of the surrounding banks and the angles they enter the water are good clues.
Fish will seek out some cover to lay their eggs so exposed timber and/or boulder fields are excellent spots to target.
Most of what I’ve said also applies in the rivers. Pounding the snags will produce a response but especially in the later parts of the season, you’ll need to hammer the ‘guts’ of the sticks.
The risk of snagging up is compounded so lure choice is even more critical.
Spinnerbaits have long been favourites for targeting fish in the timber.
Another popular weapon is recent times has been the shaker jig such as the Chatterbait and I have a soft spot for the Bozo 5/8oz Chatterbox. With the in-built weed guard and twin rattles, this is a terrific option for the tight stuff.
Whatever you choose, ensure you fit large rubber tails. Given my earlier comments regards the cod looking for a meal that offers big rewards, chuck them a works burger rather than a spring roll!
The preference for jig head-style lures and twin spinner blades means that they helicopter down after landing on top of the snag. Bibbed minnows just don’t get deep enough until they are retrieved out from the snag.
Winter fish won’t move far for a feed so you need a lure style that drops right into the heart of the structure.
Over the coming month, if I can get a couple of leave passes from the chief, I’m hoping to try out some trolling spoons from Dad’s tackle box.
Although commonly used for blue-water speedsters I reckon they’ll have a place targeting big river cod. They’re easy to cast and yet light enough for rod tip manipulation.
The only problem is the large, exposed hook point. The chance of snagging up can, however, is reduced by fitting rubber bands.
Looped through the towing point and then pulled back and settled under the hook barb, it is surprising what sort of cover you can drag these things through. The band offers little impediment to a striking cod and you’ll still hook up nicely.
On the trout front, the St. Kilda Kids’ Day at Dumaresq Dam last month was a success.
The rainbow trout that survived the young ones’ onslaught have still been quite active and a small but dedicated group of fur flickers has been hitting the impoundment before work for some nice fish.
Streamer flies are the weapons of choice, particularly along the picnic ground shallows.
I’ve not heard of many fishos getting among the local redfin lately although this is recognised as the period to target the bigger specimens. Especially in the creeks around the Bundarra and Glen Innes areas, you should find some fish on small minnow lures and metal spoons.
Fishing tends to taper off across the region with next months closure on the cod, so don’t waste opportunity. The lawn certainly doesn’t need mowing so why not spend next weekend chasing the cod of a lifetime?Reads: 2212