Winter brings some distinct changes to the Canberra-Monaro fishing scene, some fishy and some funny.
Firstly, the mad rush of anglers to the run of pre-spawning browns in the Thredbo and Eucumbene Rivers is over for another year and the trout streams are closed until the October long weekend. Peace and quiet reigns.
Actually the pre-spawner run was a bit of a fizzer this year, compared with 2012. Rain was late in coming, the rivers were low and the fish could not gain access from the lakes.
A few lucky or persistent triers did get fish, though, in the Eucumbene system. One lady fly angler walked well upstream in the Eucumbene River and was rewarded with a 6kg brown on a nymph.
Robert Di Cecca got another nice double-figure one on fly and there was a scattering of fish on Rapala spotted dog minnows near the mouth of the river.
The whole of Providence Flats was packed for weeks with fish waiting to go upstream and some were taken by trollers working Tasmanian Devils on lead-core line about 4m down.
Others fly-fished at night from boats, using sinking and sink-tip lines and a Fuzzy Wuzzy, Woolly Worm, Woolly Bugger or a small dark nymph. The best catch I heard of was 20 big fish for two anglers from dark until midnight in icy weather.
The Thredbo River had a better flow than the Eucumbene and more fish. Paddys Corner regularly was packed with anglers and a few nice fish were caught on fly, but nowhere near the numbers taken in past years.
I had reliable reports of a couple of 6kg-plus fish and a good number of 4kg specimens but given the numbers of anglers and the hours they put in, the rewards were a bit slim.
It was surprising the numbers of rainbows in the river, mixing it with the browns.
Most were large fish in good condition and seemingly unfazed by the vigour and raw energy of their earlier-spawning colleagues. There has been speculation that they originated from some earlier-spawning rainbows transplanted from Ebor hatchery but that's just a theory at this stage.
Anglers fishing the lakes certainly fared better than their river mates. Good fish were taken on fly, lure and bait right and should continue to for a while yet.
Eucumbene examples include Lee Townsend, who landed six fish on fly in a session at Rushy Plains Bay. New fly fisher Ian Thomas, after just one lesson, landed a big rainbow on fly on his first try at night and a brown on a lure earlier in the day.
Regular trier Kuhn had five rainbows on PowerBait at the Anglers Reach boat ramp at night.
In Jindabyne some nice browns were taken at night on fly and some rainbows on lures in the early mornings. A few of the browns gathering at the river mouth in Creel Bay were caught on fly at night, mostly from anchored boats.
Tantangara, too, fished well. One group of three anglers bank fishing landed 13 rainbows and five browns using scrub worms, PowerBait and lures.
Fishing should remain good there during Winter but visitors should be aware that it is one of the easiest places in the world to get bogged and sudden heavy snowstorms block access roads for days at a time.
There's been a big surge in popularity of fly-fishing, partly because it has been so productive and exciting on trout and native fish lately and partly because myself and others provide free tuition every week for anybody who wants it.
Fishing for carp with nymphs, mudeyes and other small wets provides a lot of fun and one angler recently recorded his personal best, an 84cm fish from Lake Burley Griffin.
Another angler landed a 66cm Murray cod in the Murrumbidgee River using a large white Cockatoo fly.
Persistent trier Nathan Walker also did well. He tied up a large red and black Woolly Bugger, dubbed Nathan's Naughty, and landed a nice golden on his second cast in Lake Yerrabi.
Fly fishers and fly tiers recently have had some interesting interactions with pet animals.
One angler was visiting his girlfriend's house when her dog chewed the end off his $900 Loomis fly rod. He offered her $500 for the dog so he could shoot it but she demurred and instead he has put the money towards a new rod.
Cats have had their day, too. One angler I had just taught to cast went home to practise in his backyard and feeling a bit confident, kept flicking his cat up the backside with an imitation wool fly. The cat eventually responded by springing on the fly line and biting it in half. Goodbye to a $100 fly line.
Another angler, again practising in his backyard, and not even bothering the cat, returned from a toilet break just in time to see his Siamese moggie chewing 3m off the end of his new fly line. Again, $100 down the drain.
I haven't heard whether the cats are still in the land of the living, but they must be cutting it close.
New fly tier Luke Credlin had a different problem. He purchased $300 worth of new materials and took them home, envisaging a big tying evening the next night. His dog, a large Malamute-German Shepherd cross, found the gear first and ate the lot – furs, fibres, feathers, threads and synthetics. The dog still seems not to understand why he is now sleeping outside in the middle of a Canberra Winter.
Another fly tier keeps threatening to shave his girlfriend's cat to get some material for fur flies, which are working well at the moment, but she won't be in it. She keeps the cat shut away when he visits and every time he produces some new fibre or fur for tying, she rushes out checks the cat for shave marks. It's a fragile relationship!
The ACT Government has just permanently closed night access to another stretch of the Murrumbidgee River, at Kambah Pool. This follows the earlier closure of a section at Pine Island. Both were areas with a good chance of a cod on fly or surface lure at night but now are both out of bounds.
The reason – hooliganism, car hoons, burning of stolen cars and general criminal or antisocial behaviour.
As with an earlier night closure at Black Mountain Peninsula on Lake Burley Griffin, the idiots, clowns and dropkicks have won again. Where will it all end?Reads: 2016