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As Sydneysiders escape the city for long-weekend holidays, we're drawn to our state's beaches for long days on the water. While some prefer swimming, jet-skiing and kayaking, the savvy fisher will pack the rod and reel to catch a batch of fresh fish.
NSW Fisheries reports over 850,000 anglers enjoy fishing in NSW every year, choosing from hundreds of the best fishing spots in Australia. In New South Wales, these are 5 of the best places to go fishing.
After Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth crossed the Blue Mountains to open up the Central Tablelands, the natural beauty along the hiking trails leading to Wentworth Falls, Govetts Leap and Echo Point has drawn holidaymakers ever since.
For fishers, Lake Lyell, just west of Lithgow, is stocked with Brown and Rainbow Trout and Bass. In Wallerawang, Lake Wallace, with a campground on the western shore, is also swimming with Bass. For Murray Cod, follow the Cudgegong River to fish in the Rylstone Dam.
If camping or caravanning in the Marrangaroo National Park, there are spots just south of the park where the Cox River widens, offering freshwater trout. Mt Dan's runs fishing tours, fast-tracking your search for dinner in 4WDs leading to the Nepean River for Bass.
Before baiting the hook, check the DPI website to check the photos of endangered species in the Murray-Darling Basin, including the Macquarie Perch and Trout Cod. Be sure to catch and release if you're lucky enough to bag one.
In the south of the state, 2 hours drive from Canberra, this giant lake is fed from fresh runoff of melting snow from the surrounding mountains.
Branch out along the Snowy River to catch Brown Trout before it swims into the lake. Watch out for tourists galloping through the area, channelling Tom Burlinson.
For the thrill of catching Giant Trout, venture along the Eucumbene River, which also feeds the lake, climbing into the chilly alpine territory but sticking to catch-and-release after your first haul - only one per day is allowed on this river.
You can also fly-fish for Rainbow Trout, or get a dose of omega 3 with Atlantic Salmon.
Charters and boat hire are available, with autumn and spring the best months for satisfying fishing. Try avoiding the spawning season in winter when the area fills with holidaymakers.
5 hrs west of Sydney, setup in the heart of town, surrounding by fishing spots.
Lake Albert in the city's south, with the Wagga Wagga Boat Club, is a fun place to start, bursting with fish after locals restocked it with schools of Golden Perch and Murray Cod 5 years ago. The perch are tempted with lures, while cod is best baited when the shadows lengthen during dawn and dusk.
While the Murrumbidgee isn't the roaring torrent it once was, there are still choice fishing spots. Park up at Frog Hollow, just off the Sturt Highway, or check-in at the Quality Inn Carriage House before a short hike onto the Brick Kiln Reserve to access the river.
The river flows west through Wagga Wagga and into the Murray. Find a quiet spot amongst the trees along the shoreline or in a boat to lure in Yellowbelly and Silver Perch. As you'll only find native fish, without the boost from introduced species, a dinner will be well earned. Try angling in spring as the waters rise, resorting to lures in autumn.
Coffs Harbour, Mid North Coast
Drive 6 hours north from Sydney on the Pacific Hwy, passing the Central Coast and Port Macquarie, to have a fishing holiday in Coffs. Autumn is the best time for fishing, with Bream, Tailor, Spanish Mackerel and Snapper on offer.
You won't need to venture far after you've unpacked in town. Just a short walk east from the train station, the beach is fun for kids looking to hook their first catch of Trevally or Whiting. You can even trawl for crabs and Rock Lobster.
For Bream and Tuna, head into the South East Islet, past the WWII observation bunker to Corambirra Point.
To the north east, use your live baits to catch Spanish Mackerel on the continental shelf. Sail from the International Marina, after grabbing supplies at the co-op next door.
Head north to the wash beside Macauleys Headland for a fight with schools of Tailor. Check your lines are strong enough to handle the Tailor's ferocious teeth that frustrate many fishers.
For the freshwater fisher, Narrabri is a pleasant spot 6 hours north west of Sydney.
Start in the centre of town, walking west to the park at the edge of Narrabri Creek. Setup under the Newell Highway Bridge and next to the caravan park.
You can also venture to the southern edge of town at the branch with the Namoi River as it flows northwest. Find spots with a bit of shade, distracting the Murray Cod with shadows.
The Eel-tailed Catfish is a treat for dinner, with Yellow Belly also in the water.
For a guided experience for children, signup with the local fish farm. You'll be driven to a productive spot in the bush where the Silver Perch are biting, or the kids can try catching yabbies with bait and line.
In the past, poaching has been a big problem but the aquaculture farm, the largest in NSW, has a breeding program to replenish the creek.
These tips will help you stay safe and have fun:
pay the NSW Recreational Fishing Fee if you're fishing in Sydney's fresh and salt waters. There are options for a long weekend (only $7), and up to 3 years for $85. You can pay the fee here.
wear a lifejacket and shoes with good tread when fishing from rocks
keep an eye on conditions as you fish, looking out for slippery seaweed, changing tides and large waves
obey signposted rules
throw back undersized fish
only take what you'll eat, within the bag/quantity limits for the species (e.g. 20 is the current limit for Leatherjackets). Check the saltwater bag limits here and the freshwater limits here.