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GALLERY: Western river natives

 

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GILBO sat on the bow, pointing the boat upriver towards a cluster of fallen timber. Nursing the electric motor, he pushed us through a narrow channel. The water was clear and shallow. Gravel beds and weed gave way to dark green water adjoining a giant log jam. This was cod country.

Cast after cast was made before a yellowbelly latched onto my deep diving hardbody. A nice plump “yella” came onboard; second prize to a cod, but still a welcome sight. Soon afterwards a smaller yellowbelly was landed and then an average-size cod for Gilbo.

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Right now inland NSW is in the midst of a serious drought. The river we fished is an oasis providing native fish, wildlife, and local fishos a place to escape the dry and harsh environment.

We were lucky enough to access a seldom-fished stretch of river, an area renown for big fish.

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The next day started with a pre-dawn topwater session. Large surface lures were thrown around the abundant structure. Everywhere we looked presented itself with an ideal hiding place for big cod. As the sun came up we swapped the topwater lures for hardbodies. The amount of timber means deep diving hardbodies are the best option. Slow retrieves, hopping the divers over timber is a deadly method.

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This time of year produces less fish, but your chances of bigger ones increases. The big fish, some in excess of a metre, feed up ahead of the long cold winter and breeding season in spring.

Over the next day or so we caught another couple of cod and lost a few more. The fishing was tough for these parts and unfortunately we didn’t tangle with any big fish on this trip.

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Western flowing rivers are special places. The environment is so far removed for anyone accustomed to fishing the coast. Camping alongside a river and chasing natives is a unique Australian experience. As such, these rivers and the fish we target deserve respect so this iconic Aussie past-time can continue long into the future.

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