Trout opening on the Macquarie River

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Colin's old spinners still work just fine!

ONE of the most important days of the year was the first Saturday in October especially if you grew up in rural NSW during the 1960s and 70s. The anticipation of trout opening day after the cold winter meant getting your gear ready for an early start, pedalling feverishly at first light for your favourite spot and the chance to catch your first fish for the new season.

The Macquarie River ran through town with unlimited access to fishable water and plentiful fat rainbow and brown trout the target. Opening day was a big thing, anglers making new paths through the long spring grass along the river banks often covered in frost, numb fingers wet shoes and trousers a minor inconvenience as the first cast hit the water.

In those carefree days trout were in every river or creek, spinners as we called them, Celta brand being popular cost 35 cents each about the same price as a packet of B&H filter tips and we usually got them from the barber shop where they were on display in a glass case on the wall. A brand new Celta was a big investment for a young kid and getting snagged meant getting wet to get it back.

We never realised that trout were stocked every year, just that they were there to catch. Like everyone who is a "mad fisho" learning new ways of catching fish was a natural progression from bait to spinning and lures to fly fishing. Droughts knocked the trout about from the early 1980s and as often occurs less fish means less interest in fishing for the majority of people.

DPI would bring fry to Bathurst where members of CAS (Central Acclimatisation Society) from branches in surrounding towns would collect their allocations and transfer them to release sites all around the central west. Some years were great and others not so when promising conditions in spring quickly turned to reveal drying streams by Christmas.

Consultation between DPI and recreational angling groups resulted in temperature loggers being used to monitor and record stream temperatures to determine the viability of stocking salmonoids into streams where they had been historically stocked to achieve better outcomes for efforts including stocking larger trout in areas where redfin are more prolific including impoundments like Lake Oberon and Lake Lyall.

The team at the DPI Dutton Trout Hatchery have done an outstanding job producing and delivering quality fish over many years to enhance recreational fishing opportunities for anglers and with good rainfall in most central west catchments over recent years their efforts have resulted in some of the best trout fishing experienced for many years.

Opening day this season saw me searching through cupboards for my old trout gear and on the water before lunch. Four lively rainbows in four casts had me well and truly in the moment and the camera out snapping a few shots in the clear water. I was amazed at the abundance of fish all in great condition with the smaller rainbows around 300-340mm long still showing pan marks indicating they were only yearling fish from the September 2020 stocking. I kept walking and changing my old spinners getting hits and landing fish until the sun told me I had better make my way back to the vehicle before it got dark.

It had been possibly 30 years since I had targeted trout with spinners and the old selection had proved their worth, even a pink floppy accounted for a few fish many years after it last saw the water. The day had been one of those standout days that will stay in my memory and thanks to digital cameras I have a few pics to look at and show the value of DPI stocking programs.

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