Copeton Dam 2017
Copeton Dam has quickly become known as one of Australia best Cod destinations for anglers and being open all year round has anglers making the trip more than ever. The Dam is 35 kilometers south-west of Inverell on the north west slopes of NSW Northern Tablelands.
In 2017, Team McGrath Lures made our first trip from the Albury Wodonga region to Copeton Dam taking us just over twelve hours. A big trip but the rewards were hopefully worth it and anticipated. With three anglers making the trip the research on the dam, best fishing areas, techniques, accommodation and any other information started well before we departed.
On arrival, we found the accommodation at Copeton Waters Holiday Park very good and affordable. The park had plenty to offer, kids area, food, fuel (dieso & unleaded). Lots of anglers in the park and a lot of anglers camping on the foreshore areas of the dam, so booking accommodation well in advance was a good start. The boat ramp was sealed concrete to a point, once that was underwater; launching was directly off the hard gravel surface roads around the dam. We didn't think the boat launching would create any problems once it reached that point.
The planning was over and we hit the water on the first morning, finding the dam had many areas with rocky banks or banks covered in wattle trees. The advice we received was to fish the wattle in the water, so without hesitation we headed across the main basin to a bank with plenty of wattle in and out of the water. Plenty of fish were coming up on the sounders, but they just wouldn't hit out lures, surface and sub-surface.
We were questioning our lures, techniques, areas being fished within a few hours, decided to make a move. The decision was made to head for the upper reaches of the dam to see if we could improve our chances. Making the move saw us heading into the gorge area which lifted our spirits. Some big rocky areas were in front of us and it was not too long before we had our first fish in the boat, but not what we were after, a yellowbelly broke the ice!
Day two saw us heading straight for the gorge area hoping the fish were on the chew and it was not too long before Cliff was onto a yellowbelly. After that things went very quiet so we hit the main basin with no luck.
Upon retrieving the boat that night we had noted how much the water had dropped on the boat ramp, which started to explain the lack of fish. Once we were back at camp and speaking with other anglers we very quickly confirmed the fish were off the bite.
Last morning on the water saw us hit a very rocky inlet off the main basin, a prime holding area for fish we all were thinking, but once again we came up with not a tight line amongst any of us. But not to be disappointed we started to think of the next trip, time of year, what we could do better to achieve what we came for; big cod!
Lesson Learnt. Copeton Dam is as fantastic dam to fish, but research on the time of year, areas to target, lures to use, and much more cannot be under estimated, particularly if you are traveling long distances to just get there. We found out the hard way that dropping water levels really shut fishing down.
Water levels. Consistent water levels are key. From our experience, dropping water levels are going to make the angling really tough, if fact make it nonexistent. As you can see from the chart and photo, the water levels dropped on our trip with no warning to the point the water drop could be seen on the rocks around the dam day by day. We arrived at Copeton on the 25th of the month which was the start of the water release and fished through a very tough period only to land a few yellowbelly. On speaking to other anglers at the dam, their efforts were even poorly rewarded. So, on that note, do your research on when you make the trip. We spoke to the holiday park reception upon leaving and they confirmed the water level drops by the water authority. Disappointing was that the park staff were not even able to confirm when water levels were being dropped in advance by the water authority to advise anglers. So maybe it comes down to pot luck!
We have no doubt we will be back next year, but we hope to pick a better time of the year. Not at a holiday time and not heading into spring when water releases seem to be at their peak. We hope this information helps anglers considering making the trip to Copeton Dam, tight lines.