The streams that have been closed to fishing during the past four months reopen this month and all the signs are there for a good season.
The brown trout spawning run in June, July and August was good and there should be a significant recruitment of new fish as the fingerlings make their way downstream to the lakes.
Most of the parent fish are already back in the lakes, hungry and putting on condition and giving anglers a lot of fun.
The rainbows, though, are still spawning. Most of them made their way upstream to the spawning grounds in August and September but, as always, there are stragglers and anglers opening the season can expect to find plenty of fish still spawning or resting immediately after spawning.
These fish are very vulnerable and can be caught easily on lure or fly – even by hand if an unscrupulous angler comes along – and should be left alone.
Disturbing or killing them is wilfully counterproductive and if you come across somebody dong the wrong, give him or her a good talking to. Use of a baseball bat to back up the conversation is sometimes advisable.
Overall, the prospects for the opening look good. River levels are mostly high and there is a lot of snow yet to melt from the higher country.
The countryside is green and dust-free and it will be a delight to revisit old haunts after a layoff in the streams.
A CHILL STILL
As I keep saying, Winter comes early and stays late in the Canberra-Monaro district. It might officially be Spring but in our part of the world it is still cold, with plenty of snow on the ground, minus temperatures overnight, intermittent alpine gales during the day and lots of rain runoff and snowmelt coming down the rivers.
Our last big snowfall added 23cm to the pile on top of the mountains and our last good wind had gusts up to 120kmh.
Not the most exciting fishing weather, you might think, but in between the bouts of tough weather there were some superb sunny days with light winds when it was simply exhilarating to be outdoors.
The lake fishing, too, can be pretty good. Take, for example the most recent reports to come over my desk from Jindabyne and Eucumbene.
In Jindabyne a couple of trollers searched the tackle box for the lure that would catch fish on the day and they finally found it – a purple Burrinjuck Special which they trolled slowly and deeply around east Jindabyne and Lion Island and landed a stack of beautiful big browns.
I was particularly pleased because I have been promoting the Burrinjuck Special (from Stuckey lures – Ed.) as one of the great lures of all time and because it was my favourite colour, purple. I have spent 30 years trying to get lure makers to make purple lures and have finally made headway, as now almost all the local and overseas lure makers turn out purple patterns. I feel vindicated.
In Eucumbene one angler had a good day landing seven browns and rainbows trolling an old favourite, a yellow Flatfish.
Worked slowly and with plenty of line out, this is still a great fish catcher. The only downside is when you want to release a fish and are faced with a mouthful of sharp hooks. They are hard to remove and often do a lot of damage to the fish.
Also in Eucumbene the bait fishers were very happy. One group fished bardi grubs, PowerBait and scrub worms and, as expected, caught every fish on bardis. It always happens at this time of the year.
The catch was four rainbows, one of which wasn’t even hooked – it had tried to pick up the bait on two separate lines and had become entangled enough to be able to be wound in. The anglers were gracious enough to release it unharmed but the rest went straight into the smoker.
Elsewhere in Jindabyne and Eucumbene there has been some good polaroiding.
You walk the bank very carefully with polarised glasses, watching for a fish in the shallows. It is a particularly good way of locating browns and they can be real suckers for a well-presented cased cadis, brown nymph, small Woolly Worm or a stonefly.
When you are searching ahead, envisage every shadow, piece of weed, stick, rock or shadow as a fish – because quite often that’s exactly what it is. You don’t know it’s a fish until you see it move and hopefully by then it is on the end of your line. Highly recommended.
Native fish have sprung a bit of a surprise on us this year. Normally they go pretty quiet when the cold weather approaches but this year they seem to have stayed more active during Winter.
Or maybe we are just getting better at finding them during the cold season.
Burrinjuck is a good example. Cod have been taken consistently on lures all through Winter. Just before the cod season closed, Warren Boyd fished the Main Basin with spinnerbaits and found cod of 65cm, 79cm and 114cm, the sixth cod over a metre caught in the past eight months.
The cod season is closed until December to give the fish a chance to breed. Let’s hope they do it well and come back in even greater numbers for the next season.
To satisfy the growing number of carp anglers in our part of the world, we now have that classic English bait, boilies, made in Canberra.
Boilies, an artificial bait considered essential for catching big carp, can be used simply impaled on the hook or made up as a hair rig. As a hair rig the boilie is linked to the hook by a small thread.
It is useful for big old carp that have become hook shy. When they inhale a free-floating boilie they unwittingly inhale the hook.
Boilies come in many flavours but currently corn, coconut, garlic, aniseed and strawberry are available.
An interesting diversion from trout and native fish and great fun for the kids to experiment with.Reads: 2326