Fishing stories, Trout

Open season: Cotter River Report

October long weekend

If you’re fair dinkum, the October long weekend is in your diary for the footy finals. And yes footy is great (a little less great when your team bowed out of the competition weeks ago). If you’re a fishing tragic and you live in NSW or ACT, the October long weekend means the opening of the trout season. This year I didn’t have time to head down the coast, so I decided a day trip to the Cotter river was in order.

The beautiful cotter river: The dense vegetation makes it much easier to be in the river, rather than fight along the banks

Battle plans

The plan was a round trip, with the car parked at one spot on the river and the mountain bike conveniently placed about 3km upstream. After wading my way up the river I could then use the fire trail network to ride back to the car. With an early start I was in the water by about 9 … or was that 10 … damn daylight savings. The armoury was a small 2500 spin reel, 7 ft spin stick, 6lb braid and a handful of Celtas (small spinning bladed lures).

Fishing; hot or not?

Within twenty minutes or so, the all important first fish was landed to settle the nerves and the ego. As is typical of stream trout fishing (at least for me) there were many more strikes than hook-ups and even more follows than strikes! Even when I managed to hook one, Rainbow trout are renowned for their aerial acrobatics and ability to throw the hooks. They lived up to their reputation, with the two best fish of the session throwing the hooks mid-air. At least it was spectacular …

The action was steady without being hot. It took about 4 hours to wade the 3km stretch of river, so the final haul of about 10-12 fish with 4 legal landed, was certainly enough to scratch the piscatorial itch.

Pan-sized rainbow trout like this are dotted along the length of the river

Creature comforts

On my previous trip in June I discovered the perils of home made waders. Apparently being cold for several hours just isn’t that much fun (who would have thought eh?). Having recently arrived, this trip was the chance to christen my new waders from the US (go the Aussie dollar!). A local trout legend convinced me to get felt-soled boots for their grip on smooth or moss-covered river rocks, and they didn’t disappoint! These things grip like a Gecko to the ceiling 🙂

While on the subject of creature comforts, a small thermos, a hearty sandwich, a muesli bar, camelback and a (dreaded) banana certainly make being out all day more fun.

With scenery like this waterfall on a little creek, who needs creature comforts?

Here fishy, fishy, fishy?

Like most rivers, the Cotter is highly changeable. There are sections of shallow fast flowing water, deep still pools, and everything in between. After 3 or 4 hours I was starting to get a sense for what looked ‘fishy’ and where the fish were likely to bite.

Long casts

More fish were caught on long casts. The long cast tempted fish out of their ambush spot AND gave them enough time to strike the lure before the retrieve was finished. This was especially true in slower flowing water where they seemed a bit timid to bite. There were dozens of follows, usually in short stretches of the river between rapids, or on short casts.

Strike zone

Keep the lure in the strike zone as long as possible – celtas work by being pulled through the water, which makes them flash and spin. If the water is flowing fast, you have to wind even faster to impart action on the lure. Retrieve them as slow as you can, while still maintaining the action. I’m not a fly fisherman (yet) but I’m starting to see the advantages for small streams. The fly travels at exactly the same speed as the water (not faster) allowing more time for a hook-up!

Hot spots

The small rapids and white water at the entry to a deep pool were the pick of the conditions to catch a legal fish. “Big” trout seem to position themselves at the head of the pool and watch for anything that drifts down with the bubbles and foam. Cast your lure into the commotion then bring it back into the pool and you’re likely to get smashed in the process!

Deep pools can be a nightmare to navigate in waders, but concentrate your casts towards the entry point and you’re in with a chance!

Over and out



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4 thoughts on “Open season: Cotter River Report

  1. Great fishing story. The Cotter River reminded me of the Taggerty River near Marysville, where a mate and I fished a number of times some years ago. I haven’t been there since the fires of 2009. We would wade upstream and cast small Celtas and fly spoons, sometimes only a couple of rod lengths ahead. Most days we would catch scrappy little rainbows, most of which still had their parr stripes. We released all of them but it was great fun catching them in such a beautiful spot. Must go there again soon.

  2. Hey Graz, loved the report mate. Imagine how many you would have caught if you didn’t have a banana! haha

  3. Pingback: The Festive Season | Fishing in South East Australia

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