Fish River was once a famous trout stream which had a reputation for producing very large trout. However successive years of drought, silt build-up, heavy infestations of willows, and the ever increasing extraction of water via the Fish River Scheme have combined to reduce the health of the fishery. That said there are still some great fish in the river.
The Fish River starts its flow as a series of small puddles in the hills of Vulcan State Forest at close to 1300m above sea level. It then progresses north toward Oberon Dam where the volume of water is great enough to hold some very large trout.
Below Oberon Dam wall Fish River continues north (fishing is not permitted for 400m down stream of the dam wall). Upstream of Hampton State Forest the Duckmaloi River and Bindo Creek empty into the river increasing the flow of the Fish River substantially. They both hold good numbers of brown trout.
When the Fish River reaches the Tarana area it meets Solitary Creek (a small stream that holds a few trout) and heads west towards O’Connell. Downstream of O’Connell, at approximately 700m above sea level, the Fish River and Campbell’s River join to form the Macquarie River.
While catches of trout in Fish River have been down in recent years there is still good sport to be had in many places. The upper river (above Tarana) generally holds brown trout (fish of 40-50cm are not uncommon) and the lower river has mostly small but very energetic rainbow trout (average size of 25cm).
As a tributary of the upper Macquarie River (above Lewis Ponds Creek) the Fish River is considered a General Trout Stream under NSW fishing regulations.
Open Season: Start of the October long weekend to the end of June long weekend.
Trout Bag & Size Limit: 5 fish. 25cm
For more info visit NSW DPI Website – www.dpi.nsw.gov.au
Public Access Points
Hampton State Forest and Black Hole Bend Crown Reserve
This is very good fishing spot that not a lot of people know about. This is because the roads are often difficult to drive and access to this area can be difficult because the fire trails are not always in good condition. Roads in the forest are often closed for logging which is also a frustration for some. It may be a good idea to ride a bike or walk to the river as you can make safe passage this way.
The best entry point to the state forest is via Cuthill Road (off Rydal Hampton Road). The fire trails follow the ridge lines and spurs down to the river. Many of the small creeks in the area can be fished, so keep any eye on the little water for trout. You may get a 4×4 vehicle in here but be prepared to walk to the river if the road condition are not good. The roads are usually at their worst after periods of wet weather.
You can also get into the forest by crossing Wicketty War Creek, from Wicketty War Road. This creek fishes well and the road is a little closer to the Fish River than Cuthill Road, however there is now a locked gate on this road which means vehicle access is not possible. The gate was locked to prevent hunters for accessing the state forest from this road. You can ride a bike or walk down the road but it is suggested that you contact the land owner before doing so.
Black Hole Bend holds some great trout and the best methods over the warmer months are dry flies (E.G. royal wulff’s, ant patterns and white moths) and nymphs. In the cooler part of the season using a strike indicator in rapids with bead head nymph works very well. Black Wooly Buggers are an option all the time.
Celter’s and small minnows are the first lures to try.
Flat Rock Picnic Area
Flat Rock is a public reserve on Mutton Falls Road between the towns of Tarana and O’Connell. The area holds good numbers of Rainbow Trout. It is a very popular spot for camping and fishing.
The best thing about this spot is that has easy access and there are plenty of fish due to recent stocking events, although the rivers could do with more water in this area as levels have dropped a long way in recent times.
Spinning with celter’s is popular, although fly fishing with dry and wet flies works well here.
The park next to the bridge at O’Connell offers easy access to the river and holds some good fish. The river is effected by heavy willow infestations, sand build-up and thick weed beds which can make catching fish a little harder. Try casting with shallow swimming lures or dry flies under trees in the shade where the trout have some cover and over weed beds in the deeper pools.
The large number of willows make fishing difficult with fly gear. Spinning with celter’s and very small tassie devils is worth a try.
Bate drifting is a good option here. You will need a bubble float. Try using live grass hoppers on a small hook and light three to four foot leader (greased with floatant). Half fill the bubble float with water to add weight and cast well upstream of rising fish and allow the grass hopper to drift well past the fish on a dead drift, before retrieving the bait. Take care not to spook fish with the float. You can also use this method with moths after dark.
Evans Crown Reserve (Tarana Gorge)
Evans Crown Reserve is located near Tarana. To access the river drive past the car park for Evans Crown Reserve (located at the top of the hill) and head down the road to the lower half of the reserve. Park the car near the small Nation Park sign near the bottom of the hill (This is where the reserve borders private land). You should be able to see the river in the valley down the hill. Jump the fence into the reserve and walk along the fence line of the reserve down hill to the river. Stay on the north side of the river and avoid private land.
The river runs through Tarana Gorge in the valley at the back of Evans Crown. The river has a mix of rocky granite rapids and sandy pools. This a good area for fly fishing and spinning.
You can not fish the water directly below the dam wall (it is closed for 400m), but above Oberon Dam the river fishes very well.
Other places to fish in the area
Duckmaloi River, Campbell’s River, Wicketty War Creek, and Off Flats Creek.