Report: Chasing Central West natives

AS the temperatures start to plummet into our frozen world of winter, historically, Murray cod throw all caution to the wind and feed ravenously for a few weeks to store as much body fat as they can to get themselves through the cold lean months.

Why do they do this? It’s quite simple: they don’t have pantry cupboards they can stock with food.

Yabbies and shrimp which are in plentiful numbers in the warmer months will burrow into the mud and hibernate until the warming sun’s rays of early spring herald another start to the cycle.

Knowing this we have been trying a few dams of late such as Burrendong and Wyangala, hoping for a big metre plus fish these dams hold that will be on the lookout for a feed prior to a major shut down. While the fish don’t disappear altogether the catch rate can diminish considerably.

Winter can be the time of very few fish but can also mean some very big fish captures as the big cod can find it quite easy to sneak up on a very lethargic golden perch or other species that may have turned down its metabolism to get through the cold.

Fishing pressure has been pretty high recntly in the dams and there have been some impressive catches of fish.

Our last trip to Wyangala saw us arrive a couple of hours before dark. We rolled out the swags, collected a bit of firewood and launched the boat with about fifteen minutes of light left. We worked along a deep rock face casting lures to the bank and retrieving back to the boat.

Wyangala Dam has good cod numbers and there are some big fish amongst them.

My mate Col Gordon and I were working big bibbed lures such as no 1 Stump jumpers, big vintage Flatfish, large timber Codseeker lures and a few other 2XXL sized offerings.

After several hours of slow working the banks we threw in the towel after only having been boofed twice at the boat edge while lifting the lures from the water. It was heart stopping stuff! I hooked up for a few seconds on a deep worked no 1 Purple Stumpjumper before we retired to a warm fire and a feed.

An early morning start saw us on the water before sun up. It was a brisk but very pleasant experience and after throwing lures for a while we ended up giving the hard bodies the sack.

Col switched over to a Berkley MF Vibe soft body and I tied on an Edgecrusher spinnerbait with a frog trailer that has a great action.

Moving to some of the bigger submerged granite boulders we started working deep, Col was bottom bouncing when the MF vibe was sucked into a green mouth. Although it was only a little green fish it was the first one for the trip, and worthy of a quick photo and release.

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This little cod fell for a Berkley MF Vibe fished on the bottom.

It was my turn next as the spinnerbait landed close to a big submerged boulder with some timber beside it. I let it drop for around five seconds and then within one turn of the handle the rod buckled as a handy little green fish tried to swallow the rubber frog and got pinned on a super sharp Owner hook.

Another quick picture and the cod made quick haste back to its hiding place amongst the boulders.

Two casts later a good golden perch followed the SB right to the bank before turning around and sinking into the depths, not to be seen again.

Giving it half an hour I returned to where the golden perch had followed and switched over to an Edgecrusher Rockin’ Yabby. First cast and another small green fish followed the lure to the bank before turning away and disappearing.

As the sun got up the water clarity was superb with a good 2m depth visibility. This, along with mirror calm conditions seemed to give the fish a sense of uneasiness and they’d obviously moved away from the banks into deeper water .

Even the European carp which commonly work the banks were noticeable by their absence. It seemed everything may have been worried about air attacks from shags in the clear water.

Swapping over to some Gulp Minnows, I targeted golden perch in deeper water while Col walked the banks hoping to find some carp to fish to on fly.

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A small golden that fell to the productive “Gulping” method.

Gulping has become one of the most productive methods for catching golden perch on lures. A few drops around some boulders in 3-4 metres of water soon brought a small fish undone and I had several tail takes for no hook ups.

The sounder showed fish galore suspending in 3-4m in open water. I usually find that these sort of fish are there for protection or comfort and not feeding, but on the second vertical retrieve I hooked the best golden of the trip.

Wyangala Dam is one of the prettiest dams in the Central West. Its wild hills of eucalypt and Cypress pine forests, drowned granite boulders and timber give so much structure for so many fish it truly is a special fishing destination. While it does attract many anglers and campers, it’s a big shame that so many camps are left in a deplorable state with bottles, cans and windblown rubbish and mountains of toilet paper and faeces scattered about – unfortunately this seems the norm these days as the old saying “take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints” goes mostly unheeded.

Wyangala Dam is a great spot and I hope to see you there but please take home your rubbish and use a shovel when you take a toilet walk!

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