Rain, snow dictate terms
  |  First Published: July 2008

This month we expect a good cover of snow on the ski fields and the town to be busy with lots of people enjoying the snow. Given good snowfalls, most of the brown trout should have ended their spawning run and be returning to the lake, while the rainbows will be thinking seriously about heading up the river for their turn

If the browns are mostly back into the lake you can expect them to be cruising the edges looking for food. At this time of the year it doesn’t matter what method you use, you must remember the fish are close to the edges and you need not cast too far.

Baits on the lake bottom or suspended under a float will catch trout as they cruise by but if you are flyfishing or spinning, you should also be aware that you need to slow your retrieve and leave the fly or lure in the fish’s face longer.

Soft plastics have really started to have an impact in trout waters. It’s not only the traditional trout-looking plastics that have been working; some of the saltwater types are also having their impact.

Some of the more successful plastics that I stock in my shop because of popular demand are the Squidgy 65mm Wrigglers in colours golden eye, rainbow trout and bloodworm. The 60mm killer tomato has been good on the browns, due to its colour I suspect, and the Berkley Gulp 2” minnows in pink and pumpkinseed colours and the 3” watermelon or smelt colours are also great over the lake weed beds.

If you’re out in a boat on the lake over winter, trolling lures a lot slower than in summer is the way to increase your catch rate.


July is also when we start to see some big Atlantic salmon caught on Lake Jindabyne. Some of these are hatchery-release brood fish beyond their use-by date and each year Gaden Trout hatchery release some monsters after they have been stripped of eggs for the breeding program.

It does take a little time for these fish to put on condition and to get used to their new surroundings but they are naturally aggressive fish and you will always catch them on a lure it it’s dragged past their noses.

I prefer to photograph and release any of these big fish over winter because they aren’t in good enough condition to eat so early after their release. Give them time to eat some natural food and put on a bit of extra weight and they are fine for the table.

July is also when we get most of our snow on the mountains and the weather can change very quickly, so always check for any major changes before heading out in a boat. It only takes minutes for the lake to go from mirror flat to metre-high waves and 100kmh winds.

I always make certain I’m on the water as soon as the change passes because this is when the fish are on the bite.


Lake Jindabyne has dropped to almost minimum level and every time we have a dry spell it drops a little more. Surface temp is around 12°C and dropping as the nights get colder.

Trolling works well in winter, especially the jointed Rapalas for big trout. Tasmanian Devils in pink 55, orange 57 and brown number Y48 are the best on the rainbow trout. Y82 and Holographic are another couple of colours worth a try.

Trolling minnows on three colours of lead-core line over weed in shallow, protected bays will often result in a solid strike.

Jointed lures like the Rebels and Rapalas have a unique action and are great for big browns when trolled very slowly.

Trolling flies off fly lines (harling) is also very productive in winter and trolling flies on lead core during the middle of the day produces some big browns if you stay just over the weed beds. We have some flies in my shop that are designed for trolling and can be dynamite over the weed.

Good trolling areas this month are the South Arm, the Snowy Arm, East Jindabyne Islands and Hayshed Bay.

Because the lake is so low this year, flyfishing has been very good because the weed beds are so close to the shore. You will see fish cruising if you have your polarised glasses on. Something like a brown nymph, a Mrs Simpson or a shrimp pattern will get good results, as will my Williamsons Gold Fish on the quiet, weedy bays.

The best areas for winter polaroiding are Creel Bay, Hatchery Bay, Sids Bay and the Kalkite end.


Spinning from the shore works well during winter, try Tassies in pink No 55, yellow wing 36 and brown number 48 at a slow retrieve, or those plastics I mentioned earlier.

Good areas include the Snowy Arm, Creel Bay and Wollondibby Inlet (excellent after rain).

When bait fishing, simple rigs work best. Worms and Berkley PowerBait bring results. When worm fishing, use plenty of tiger worms or a single scrub worm fished off the bottom using a running sinker.

Orange and lemon twist and fluoro orange PowerBait have been catching a lot of good trout over the past couple of months and work very well over winter. A jar of each in the tackle box is highly recommended.

The newer jars of Gulp, said to be specially formulated for trout, and the rainbow candy and chunky cheese flavours are most popular.

As the fish move about the lake so much over in winter there is no particular spot better than another but a hint is to fish shallow water early and late and slightly deeper in the brighter parts of the day – but not too deep!

Call in to my shop at the Snowline Centre in Kosciuszko Road for the latest information. I run fishing tours right through winter and the shop is open every day during winter with extended hours over July.

Dougy Ivanovic caught this 5kg brown trout in the Thredbo River on a black nymph just before the end of the season in June.

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