Canberra anglers are blessed with access to a variety of environments, target species and fishing opportunities. When assessing the best fishing spots around Canberra, the most important consideration is the species you want to target and the technique you want to employ. There are some spots in which you can target multiple species, but generally, the species you want to target and how you want to target them will dictate where to go. Whether to fish with bait or lures will also dictate your choice of locations; lure fishing is generally more active and physical, whereas bait fishing can be a nice way to relax by the water for a few hours.
The main species in Canberra are carp, trout, Murray cod, golden perch and redfin. Each of these species lives in slightly different environments (or places within those environments), and different techniques are required to catch them. If you’re simply after putting a bend in the rod, then some corn or bread on a small hook, cast unweighted or lightly weighted into one of the urban lakes, will be the undoing of many fine carp. For those looking for a serious challenge, a small fly on a 5-6 weight flyrod will also provide hours of entertainment on the local carp populations. The best locations for carp are lakes Burley Griffin, Ginninderra and Tuggeranong, and many of the local rivers are also filthy with fish. The Murrumbidgee, Molongolo, Sullivan’s Creek and Queanbeyan River all hold good numbers of ‘mud marlin’.
Trout are found in all directions, but you will need to travel slightly further. The closest trout stream is the Cotter, which, despite considerable angling pressure, turns up some fine trout fishing. Most of the fish are small, with a ‘big’ one around 30cm. The river holds rainbows and browns, which can be readily caught on small celtas, hardbodies, soft plastics and flies. The Cotter also holds Macquarie perch, two-spined blackfish and trout cod.
Other trout streams in the area include the Goodradigbee, Naas, Paddy’s and Gudgenby Rivers. A few of these only hold small numbers of fish. I’ve written a bit more about them here.
It seems a pity that these first two species are the mud marlin and river rabbits, but there is some excellent natives fishing on offer in and around Canberra. Murray cod are the apex predator in our local area, and there are some world-class angling experiences on offer when targeting these revered fish. All of the local lakes and larger rivers hold cod, in varying numbers and sizes. Lake Burley Griffin is renowned for producing the odd monster, with stories of 150cm long fish emerging from time to time. Some of the smaller urban lakes, including Yerrabi Pond in Gungahlin, have been stocked with cod and produce good numbers of fish at certain times of the year. In terms of rivers, the Murrumbidgee and Molongolo also produce decent numbers of cod, with the hot spots on the ‘bidgee being Casuarina Sands, Uriarra Crossing and upstream from Kambah Pools (Don’t, I repeat, don’t: go downstream).
The other go-to spot for cod is Googong Dam, just over the border in NSW. Expect to make a lot of casts between fish, but when you hook one, it could be a monster.
Yellowbelly are basically caught in all of the same places as cod, but are perhaps less common in the rivers than the lakes. Burley Griffin, Ginninderra and Googong all hold good numbers.
Redfin are basically in every waterway, but are most often caught in numbers in the same places as yellowbelly.
In terms of specific locations on each of the water bodies I’ve mentioned, there is no ‘one size fits all’. On any given day, and any given time of day, the fish will be in a particular mood in the location that suits them best, in terms of water temperature, clarity, depth and the presence of habitat, predators and prey. If you put a bit of thought into these variables, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find where they are on that day.
I prefer lure and flyfishing, but a couple or worms or a yabby on a hook is a lovely way to spend a few hours, and will be the undoing of many a fine fish around the Canberra region. We’re lucky to have so much fishing on our doorstep, so get out there and get into it!