High water, hot fishing
  |  First Published: May 2012

The talk of the town in recent months has been the level of Lake Jindabyne, with the big wet in February-March bringing the lake up to 100% for the first time since 1974.

At one stage the lake was going to stay at 100% until September but commonsense prevailed and Water NSW allowed Snowy Hydro to drop the level by 3m before Easter to allow a buffer in case of another big rain event over Winter.

Without the lower level of just over 80% in February, the damage caused by flooding in the lower Snowy River would have been a whole lot worse than it was.

With the lake so high we will continue to experience great fishing as we head into Winter. Big browns are feeding up now and the fishing is spectacular.

Those who come to fish the spawning run this year will see a different Thredbo River than in previous years; the floods had scoured banks and changed the river bottom and we have a few different snags to fish around.

May is also when the regulations change for the Eucumbene and Thredbo rivers. Basically any fish caught and kept must be over 50cm and you are allowed only one fish per day. This helps protect the fish that are in these rivers for their annual spawning run.

If you manage to hook up on what you consider to be a big fish, it is best to land it as quickly as possible so as not to stress it too much and wear it out. That way, just in case it is undersize you can release it quickly without any harm.


This is one of the best months for the bait angler. Big brown trout are cruising the edges looking for a feed before they head into the rivers on their spawning run.

Worms teamed with an artificial bait and fished off the bottom work well at the moment.

Best areas to try over the next couple of months will be Waste Point at Creel Bay but the road may still be closed. You may have to park and walk down or even walk to the lake via the Thredbo River bridge. Hatchery and Hayshed bays are also worth a try.


Minnow lures like the Rapalas (especially the jointed ones), 3” StumpJumpers and the like will be the best choices for big fish, which have been really on the bite every time we have had rain. Jointed lures have a great action and can be worked fast or slow.

Use sinking or deeper-diving minnows when the river is high and stick to smaller lures when the water is low and clear.

Don’t worry about the size of lures if the river is in flood because you might find that bigger is better. The Thredbo River is my river of choice from now until rivers close in June.

On the Thredbo River, if we get rain and the brown trout start to run, you might like to use drift-rigging techniques to catch trout sitting in deeper, faster water.

This method works well and by teaming up a fly like a weighted black nymph with a Glo Bug and letting the rig bounce along the bottom with the aid of some split shot is one way you can catch trout on flies using a normal spinning outfit.

Now that the water is cooling down, lake spinning will improve. Tasmanian Devils in brown colours such as No 48, the red-nosed brown bomber, and the holographic pattern will catch fish. My Steve Williamson orange and black Tassie is also working a treat.

When the water gets below 14°, pink or orange lures always work well.

Try some bigger jointed Rapalas here as well; 11cm and 13cm are not too big for aggressive brown trout.

On the lake good spinning areas to try are Creel Bay, Waste Point, the Snowy Arm and for fish still actively feeding, try Curiosity Rocks, Wollondibby Inlet, Hatchery Bay and the Claypits.


Some days the fish will strike out of aggression and some days they will be feeding. Knowing what the weather is about to do will help.

Big jointed lures are well worth a try for big browns. The wed beds are close to the edge so if trolling early in close, you don’t need lures that dive too deep.

The new Rapala Pinkie should be available by now; it was an amazing lure 20 years ago so we are excited about the re-release.

Tasmanian Devils are still well worth a try and this month I quite often change to pink or orange colours that seem to work best on the aggressive spawning fish. No 55 pink or No 56 orange are good lures for non-feeding fish.

Even at this time of year the day will often warm up and the fish will still go deeper. Lead core lines and downriggers will still be very useful.

Remember all the photos in the magazines of big fish caught on big minnow lures trolled slowly off downriggers?

Duel Depth Tasmanian Devils rigged through the side hole to troll to 4m will also help during the middle of the day, but make sure you don’t troll too fast when this lure is rigged in the deep-dive hole.

Lion and Cub Islands always fish well in Autumn for rainbow trout and as the browns move to the end of the lake ready to spawn, Creel Bay and the Snowy River Arm are well worth trying.


The streams and rivers will still have good days even this late in the season. You can even still find fish to take a dry fly. Most fish, however, have been taken on brown or black nymphs out of the running water.

As the rain comes and more trout move into the Thredbo and anglers will chase big trophy fish and Glo Bugs and nymphs will have best success. Black and brown nymphs in about a size 10 or 12 are good.

Make sure you have some weighed flies when the river is flowing hard, you need to get the fly down to the fish before you will catch them.

Lake Jindabyne will fish better this month as the edge water cools. Water temperatures have a big effect on how close to shore the fish come but it’s cooler now and the fishing is much better and will continue to improve as the water cools even further.

Flies to try over the coming months will be the Purple/Black Woolly Bugger and Mrs Simpson. Don’t forget the Williamson’s Gold Fish around the creek inlets during the late evenings.

For daily reports, call in to my shop at Discovery Holiday Parks Jindabyne next to the Shell Servo. For bookings or details call 02 64 561551 or visit www.swtroutfishing.com.au or see my Facebook page.



Best method – surface trolling early, then lead core lines at 30m.

Best depth – trolling at 3m deep; more in the middle of the day.

Best lake lure –New Rapala ‘Pinkie’ and pink Tassie No 55.

Best lake area – Hatchery and Hayshed bays.

Best fly method – Glo Bugs and nymphs on the Thredbo River.

Best River – Thredbo River.

Diagram 1

The drift rig allows spin anglers to use flies in fast, deep water. The split shot just slide off the line if they get snagged.

Diagram 2

Another way to fish a Glo Bug on a spin rod is to use a bubble float.

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