Opportunities knock for those brave souls that venture out fishing in freshwater on the central Tablelands at this time of year. Extremes in weather create opportunities on both ends of the spectrum, in summer and winter.
Native fish generally have a preference for warmer water, so less extreme weather can have them grouped up in likely areas. Northern facing bays and inlets in Windamere that have some protection from cold winds can be real hotspots.
Often you will see golden perch 2-3ft down in shallow open water sunning themselves in these bays, turned side on to the sun like a big solar panel. Catching them when they are like this is nigh impossible (for me anyway), but at least you’re in an area with fish.
When faced with this scenario it’s better to drop something to the bottom in the same area and work it very slow. Bait would be number one at this time of year. Try a bunch of scrub worms, a crushed yabby or something that will produce a trail and get them coming over for a look.
When it comes to lures, a small skirted jig is very hard to beat. I usually tip the jig with a trailer of some sort and really load it up with scent on a regular basis. Bottom contact is very important with these skirted jigs. Retrieves at this time of year should have lots of pauses and try shaking the jig on the pause or dragging the jig on the bottom; mix it up, but always keep close to the bottom.
A good alternative is a jighead rigged soft plastic; craws and creature baits that are 50-60mm long are the go. Once again, dose them up with your favourite catch scent and work them very slow on the bottom.
Pulling the boat up on the bank or anchoring on a spot is good at this time of year. This slows you down and makes you fish the one area for longer.
TCD as it is affectionately known is a very popular fishing destination at this time of year. Big rainbow trout that spend most of their year well offshore, down deep on thermoclines, are drawn into the shallow windswept margins to spawn. This is quite a unique fishery with many challenges, the least of which is that fish are more intent on other urges than actually eating anything.
They will usually eat a small glow bug or trailing nymph presented on fly. It’s very visual and frustrating, as is often the case when targeting these fish. Thankfully there is a mixture of fish in different stages of spawn and it’s better to leave the ones going hard at it and target the fringes for trout in a pre-spawn mode.
Those of us who choose lures to fish with should not feel totally left out. Casting larger hardbodied minnows or softer plastics of 7-8cm on cloudy, windy days during lower light periods can be quiet productive. By doing this you are targeting the aggressive pre-spawn bucks of both species. The hits are very hard, to say the least.
It’s great to see the industry and anglers embracing the swimbait revolution. It’s a Murray cod deal for the most part, but I’m already seeing and hearing about anglers taking the thought process to other species. When it comes to big fish, it’s same-same. They have different habits and different needs; by recognising this and making the adjustments needed for your tackle, and more importantly mindset, all of a sudden you’re in the game. The game may take a little longer to play out, but when that monster fish hits the deck of the boat or the bank at your feet the last thing that will cross your mind is all the little weaners your mates have been catching.
The more I target bigger fish, no matter the species, the more I realise how different they are from the run-of-the-mill average specimen. For starters, those run-of-the-mill average specimens might just be food, so they are not going to hang out together.
If you think more along the lines of loners with attitude, bullys hanging on the fringe and resting in the best place possible, you’ll be closer to the mark. When it’s time to feed, it’s game on. They know their quarry well and will move to take advantage of any given situation.
Hope to see you on the water soon. Until then, tight lines.Reads: 60