Although it seems just a few weeks ago that the stream trout season closed, we are already looking forward to the opening of the 2013-14 season in the first week of October.
Things are looking pretty good, too. We have had a lot of Winter rain and the streams are running high, fast and slightly discoloured – ideal for spawning and fishing.
There has been a fair bit of snow, which will melt progressively and provide ongoing flows well into Summer.
The alpine bogs, which fill with moisture, are the key to the ongoing water supply. They fill to bursting with rain and snowmelt but release the water at a controlled rate over a prolonged period. It’s essential to keep these bogs in tip-top condition – that’s one of the reasons we want the destructive mobs of wild horses that trample these features into extinction removed from the high country.
In June and July we had the excitement of the brown trout pouring into the spawning streams from their lake homes. Now we can look forward to the same phenomenon with the rainbows.
They start their spawning run in August and build to a peak in September and October.
When the season opens in October many anglers will encounter late spawning fish in many locations and they have a choice – leave them alone or do the silly thing and hook them on fly or lure.
It doesn’t take much of a brain to figure out which is the best tactic to ensure the survival of the fishery but I bet we see again somebody brandishing an obviously spawning fish and boasting of their ‘capture’.
There will be the usual animated discussion on the best approach to the opening of the season. Lure fishers can opt for weighted Glo Bug-and-nymph rigs, spoons, minnows, Tasmanian Devils and a host of other hardware.
All of it could work, as long as it gets down to where the fish are hugging the bottom in the fast water.
Fly-fishers also can opt for Glo Bug-and-nymph or a great variety of wet patterns.
I have a fondness for dark nymphs, Woolly Worms, Woolly Buggers, Hamill’s Killer and my beloved Purple Nymbeet, but every fly fisher is likely to have a different idea. That’s to be expected when there are more than 5000 patterns to choose from.
Want an argument? Tell another fly fisher which fly they should be using!
I also opt for sink-tip or sinking line if the streams are running especially high and fast.
Get down to where the fish are and you have a chance of a hook-up. Fish too high in the water column and you’ll be lucky to get a touch.
Learn also to respond to even the tiniest touch. Fish in high, cold and discoloured streams commonly just mouth the fly, test it as food and then spit it out if it doesn’t feel right. You need to be aware of their delicate touch and respond before they eject your offering.
If you are thinking of fishing the opening, make sure you are properly dressed. Winter in the Snowies comes early and stays late and you can expect rain, snow, sleet, alpine gales and exceedingly low temperatures on any one day in October.
As an example, just last week there were winds of 123kmh in the mountains and an effective temperature of –21°.
That’s no place for a visitor from Sydney or Melbourne in lightweight clothing. We wear thermals, waders and proper vests and jackets and watch for symptoms of hypothermia and the like. Enjoy your visit but take sensible precautions.
One of the exciting developments to look forward to in the new season will be improved flows in the Murrumbidgee River extending from Tantangara Dam wall all the way down to Canberra.
At present water collected in Tantangara is bled off to Lake Eucumbene via a tunnel which exits at Providence Portal. Under new arrangements, that water will instead be sent down the natural channel of the Murrumbidgee.
At Canberra the water will be diverted across to Googong Reservoir but in the meantime, we get the benefit of a restored river all the way from the high country to the lower country.
In the higher country it will provide a habitat for brown and rainbow trout, Macquarie perch and trout cod and in the lower reaches, more trout cod and Murray cod. We also expect to benefit from higher storage levels in Googong.
While you are waiting for the stream season to open you can experience some good lake fishing in Eucumbene, Jindabyne and Tantangara.
Most or all of the browns are back from spawning, have put on a lot of condition and are pretty hungry. Some of the rainbows also are back from spawning or still waiting to go and they also are hungry.
Bait fishers will find reasonable numbers of fish during the day and at night on PowerBait, scrub worms and especially bardi grubs. Trollers could do well with minnows and Tasmanian Devils, especially with lead-core line, and fly-fishers might find some nice fish working in the shallows. Polaroiding the bank also can be very productive.
In the lower country waterways golden perch, Murray cod and redfin slow down during Winter but you can still winkle a few out using the right techniques.
In Canberra’s urban lakes and Googong Dam the hordes of juvenile redfin are much less active than normal. That means that when you are lure fishing you don’t have a pesky tiny redfin hanging onto the lure all the time, stopping a preferred golden perch or cod from taking the lure.
Just recently trollers and lure casters in Burrinjuck, Googong and Burley Griffin all reported nice cod on spinnerbaits and deep divers. They didn’t get many fish, but enough to make it a satisfying Winter’s day.
I also have some more news on Lee Townsend’s big Murray cod. We reported earlier that Lee was casting a spinnerbait on light tackle in the Molonglo River – dammed to form Lake Burley Griffin – just five minutes from the City centre when he hooked a massive cod.
He played it for about half an hour before landing it and it was indeed a massive fish. He didn’t want to kill or damage it so after a quick check on length and a guesstimate of weight it was slipped back into the river.
The fish was about 1.5m long and Lee estimated it around 45kg.
I have now had time to take a better look at the photos and compare the fish with others of known weight around the same length and am convinced the fish is much heavier.
From my measurements I put it at 55kg-60kg, probably closer to 60kg. If that’s so then it is certainly the largest cod recorded in the ACT and probably the entire Canberra-Monaro region.
It could well be one of the largest recorded in Australia and I am happy to give my support to the proposed weight. Well done, Lee.
The bad news is that the dog we reported on in the July issue that ate $300 worth of fly-tying material died. The vet wasn’t sure what killed it but agreed that a huge parcel of fur, feathers, fibres, threads and synthetics wouldn’t have done it the world of good.
The loss of any dog is a bit of a blow but it’s even harder when you lose one that was interested in fly-tying.
On the good news front, the girlfriend who wouldn’t let her fly-tier boyfriend shave her cat to make fur flies finally relented and let him go ahead. It turns out she was worried that he wanted to skin the pet, whereas he only wanted to shave it.
She was so relieved she even chopped off a bit of the hair herself and part of the moggie will henceforth be swimming around in Lake Eucumbene on the next fly trip. True love conquers all!Reads: 2550