Report: April triggers “panic bite”

IT’S an old timers’ saying that cod fishing is only easy if the month of the year has an “r in it, and to some extent that can be very true. Others say once the willow leaves drop from the trees it’s also time to put away the cod gear until the leaves sprout again, but remembering that September through November is closed season for cod in most waters, anglers eagerly await for December 1.

On the other hand, April can also be the beginning of some great trout fishing as the impending cold weather and autumn rains can be the signal for trout to being feeding in readiness to undertake their spawning run up into the gravelly runs where they build their redds.

With the recent first hint of a frost in the air I decided to test the water and see if the “panic” bite had started. I say panic because it reminds me of supermarket panic buying when people know food supplies may be soon in short supply. While we can buy and store our food for the leaner times, fish can only store reserves by feeding ravenously and storing their excess in large rolls of fat within their bodies.

The native “panic” bite has now begun in earnest with many reports of fish being caught in my local streams and dams in central western NSW.

With so many reports of good fishing I headed off to try my luck – the section I chose to fish had been hammered by every sort of lure since last December, so I was conscious of targeting some very educated fish .

I decided to fish with fly for both cod and yellow belly. The carp had ceased their burrowing, vacuuming in the river bed and the river had cleared.

Standing on a rocky point I sent the large wet fly out about 10 metres and watched it drift into the depths. Fishing an intermediate line I waited until I was sure the fly had settled on the bottom and began the strip, pause, strip retrieve, waiting for the line to tighten. As the fly came into view I could see a reasonable golden perch following at a close distance … as the fly came close to the surface the golden rushed the fly and inhaled it deep, I struck and pulled the fly free of the golden’s mouth and imbedded it into a log that until now had gone unnoticed.

In the next ten metres I had two cod hit the fly in full view, one around 75cm and another around the serious one metre mark.

Two other hits in the depths of the hole may have been cautious cod or timid golden.

A cod cave under the water begged for a fly to drift down the face of the opening, as the fly floated past the opening a small greenfish could be seen to bolt from the cave and smash the fly. Again I missed the hook up and put the fly back into the zone for another attack by the cod – this time I stayed tight to the small fish.

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A small cod that took a liking to Ken’s fly worked past an underwater cave.

The brag mat showed this feisty little green fish measured just on 44 cm.

Changing the fly to a red and black pattern I went back and fished where I’d seen the golden. A few casts and the fly was belted and the line tightened on a small golden perch that also measured the same as the small cod just released. Yep, it seemed like the April bite had begun!


A nice yellowbelly that fell for a red and black fly.

A few days later and my son Jeremy and I were back on the water, with lures this time. Jeremy started with a favourite pink Oargee Plow, while I opted for a black Edgewriggle 80mm grub with a black jighead to match. While jigging the grub hard up against some logs it was swallowed by an unforseen fish that powered into the logs about four metres underneath us. It was a give and take battle for a while as the big fish gave a bit before powering deeper into the logs. Eventually the fluorocarbon was rubbed till it looked like it was dental floss and the line parted.

Jeremy switched to a pink spinnerbait and soon had a small cod make an enquiry which resulted in a solid hook up. A quick picture and the fish was released.

Jeremy again got belted on “the drop“ but failed to hook up to the fish.

I was convinced to change to a spinnerbait, so tied on a custom made Edgecrusher Lures luminous bladed Cod Caller, thinking the sunlight would be absorbed in the lumo coating and it would glow when fished in the depths of the hole.

The spinnerbait hit the bottom without being accosted but on the retrieve it was smashed by a fish that stayed deep; a good thump, thump was the tell-tale sign of a reasonable cod on the end of the line. After a few minutes the best cod of the day surfaced. A guesstimate of around 80cm proved too generous as when the cod was laid on the brag mat the best it could do was 78cm. It was still a reasonable fish.


Ken with a nice April Murray cod caught on a spinnerbait.

With daylight disappearing fast, we made our way back to the ute. Jeremy tied on a surface lure and was smashed by two cod on the surface but missed both. I tied on another black Edgewriggle 80mm grub with black jig head and extracted five carp in no time at all. The best of these was around 8kg.

Jeremy then saw a carp cruising just in front of us as we were pulling out the canoe and loading it on the ute. He picked up my rod and shot the grub out to the cruising carp. Thas soon resulted in six carp landed for the day.

On arriving home I had a few messages from other mates. One had been fly fishing Windamere Dam and had landed two beautiful golden perch on fly, another had been to Wyangala Dam and caught five cod and a golden perch on spinnerbaits. Another had caught a well conditioned 93cm cod further west, while another had been trout fishing at Lake Lyell and had caught five nice rainbow trout and dropped a few others.

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Rainbow (top) and brown trout are coming on the chew in many lake systems in NSW.  

While many anglers await eagerly for the first frost to kick off a panic bite amongst the natives, others are now gearing up for some tremendous trout fishing as water temperatures plummet and trout feed ravenously in preparation for the hard task of spawning in the coming months.

April is a great month to be on the water. Whether you’re chasing the last hot native bite or aggressive trout in the dams and streams, the Central West and Western NSW is a good place to be!


David Harris with a 93cm cod caught in April. Image: Wayne Gilbert


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