Using Lowrance Sounders at Copeton Dam

I’ve just returned from a trip to Copeton Dam in the NSW New England region with fellow Lowrance team members Gary Sullivan and Luke Reilly. This was my first trip back to this iconic freshwater impoundment chasing Murray cod in 11 years and to be honest the incredible technological advances in Lowrance’s products during the intervening years has profoundly changed the way recreational anglers target Murray cod in this famed granite belt impoundment.

We fished from Gary Sullivan’s Quintrex Hornet which is equipped with the new Lowrance HDS 12 Carbon units linked to a Motorguide XI5 bow-mount electric motor. A 3D Structure Scan module and transducer are also installed on the boat so we had all the best gear available to aid us on our cod quest.

The biggest advancements in technology since my previous Copeton trips over a decade before would have to be the development of CHIRP and side scan capabilities. While we only marked a few large fish during our trip the CHIRP and side scan allowed us to find and mark bait close to the bottom and structure such as submerged timber and boulders within casting range of the boat. The HDS Carbon units were lightning fast at processing information and the new Solarmax screens provided crisp, clear images of bottom structure in a wide range of light conditions.

The winter cod fishery at Copeton Dam revolves around throwing XOS sized wake baits, swim baits, soft plastics and chatter baits in low light conditions along bait holding stretches of shore line. We spent a lot of time during the daylight hours checking out likely looking stretches of bank and running trails on our HDS Carbon chart plotter along them at the optimum casting range so we would be able to return and fish them effectively in light conditions ranging from shaded to pitch black. Switched on anglers who have their Lowrance units linked to a Motorguide bow-mount electric motor could take this a step further by creating a route that that the Motorguide could traverse you along at an optimum set speed to cover the water with your lures effectively.

While a good pair of eyes should always be your primary source of navigation, we also augmented this by running trails through obstacle free waters between our launching point at the boat ramp and our intended fishing area. This made life a lot less stressful when running home in the pitch black darkness on an unfamiliar waterway. There was a substantial granite boulder just breaking through the water’s surface in one area we were traversing so we marked this on our plotter screen so we could give it a wide berth in the dark. It should be remembered that Copeton Dam’s level fluctuates significantly throughout the year due the demands of irrigators downstream so I would recommend running new trails on each fishing trip to suit the dam level at the time.

We had a really enjoyable time at Copeton Dam. We caught a number of Murray cod on both swim baits and wake baits and missed a few too. The amazing performance of the new Lowrance HDS Carbon units we used on the trip was integral to our successful fishing results and also assisted us in safely navigating an unfamiliar waterway. We also did a lot of C-Map Genesis mapping of the waterway while we were there which will help to build on the considerable mapping effort already completed by other anglers. It certainly won’t be another 11 years before I return to have another crack at the big Murray cod that Copeton Dam is famed for producing.

Mark Williams, Australia

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