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Top up makes tip top fishing
  |  First Published: December 2013



January is holiday time for most people but unfortunately for us in the tourism industry we are in full swing with my daily fishing tours and flyfishing instruction. A busy time, but without it I would be a very poor fishing guide.

The lake is once again looking spectacular, with a high water level and recent rain topping up the streams.

The weather has been a bit mixed up in the mountains with rain and even snow over recent months. Nevertheless, with January here we can finally enjoy a little bit of warmer weather and a huge improvement to our flyfishing season, which certainly was the latest start that I can remember.

With good water in the rivers and streams it looks like we will have some great river fishing from now well into autumn, at least.

January is ‘hopper season’ for fly anglers. There are various grasshopper patterns available but just have a look around and see what size and colour the real ones are and find a fly to match.

In the early stages of hopper development we like to use smaller patterns and even flies, like a Yellow Humpy, can imitate the local hoppers. As the hopper develops wings then the Snowy Mountains Hopper pattern or a larger yellow Stimulator are more suitable.

Likewise, keep your eyes open for evening hatches of other insects, such as the mayfly. I love the dry flyfishing at this time of year. If you are a lake fly angler, nights are the best time to fish and bigger dark or black flies, like a Woolley Bugger, or other dark streamer patterns are ideal. Craig’s Nighttime is also another Snowy Mountains favourite; not to forget my own Snowy Mountains Gold Fish where fishing the bays and the inlets will be best places to get results.

When trolling in January, we start the day off by surface trolling lures like Rapala Minnows, which are very good for the bigger brown trout. You can also troll these off lead core lines to get them a little deeper.

Surface trolling Tasmanian Devils in green colours like the number 111 Willy’s Special are well worth trying and my special Red-Nosed Yellowing is great when the sun starts to get higher in the sky. On the overcast days the Holographic and number 48 Brown Bomber or other darker lures will be best.

Other lures I would recommend over the coming month for trolling would be Rapala Scatter Rap, Dorago Minnows in goldfish-like colours, Balista LED for deep trolling, StumpJumpers in greens and golds. Gillies Natural Vibes will always attract a trout when they are lazy and you can even try trolling a soft plastic like a Strike Tiger Nymph behind flashers.

Best areas to fish have been Hayshed, Hatchery and Rushes Bay and the South Arm, but if you are smart you should look for the wind lanes early in the day. You will often locate these by looking for the ducks and gulls (lake gulls, not sea gulls) because these birds are often also feeding on the surface insects that the trout love to eat.

Later in the morning, the best fishing will be deep using either lead core lines, paravanes, trolling sinkers etc. but the best way to achieve results is to use a downrigger, so you know exactly what level you are fishing. At the moment the depth continues to vary from 35ft early in the day to 45ft later in the morning.

Lake spin anglers will also do well in the first hour or so of light. Again, I like to spin with lures the same as the trollers but in smaller versions.

Blades work on trout as well and gold colours are best; I rather like the Jaz Lure blades in gold like the little goldfish we have in the lake. Other lures that have been proving themselves very effective on the trout are the Bullet Lures with some excellent colours in the range, which also look a lot like the goldfish as well as the little trout fingerlings that have recently been released from the Gaden trout hatchery.

By mid-morning you will have to be lucky to catch a fish on the lake in summer. It may be best heading to the alpine rivers for a spin in the creeks where the trout may be a little more active.

River spinning is much better than last year because the water levels are a little higher. There have been some good trout caught, if you are prepared to walk a little further away from the holiday crowds. Find some deep pools or some deeper running water where the fish may lay under cover.

Small minnow style lures like CD Rapalas and the old favourite green and gold Celtas or Gillies Spinners, like the feathertails, work very well. I also love the Vibrax spinners and there are some glow in the dark colours in this range that are great for fishing in the late evening. Change lures often and never work one area of water over any more than a half a dozen casts.

Bait fishing in summer is mudeye time. The mudeye is the nymph of the dragonfly, and anglers use them as live bait, hooking them through the wing case to allow them to swim around beneath a float. Early and late in the day are the best times and, again, fish the bays and move to deeper water as the day brightens up.

The cooler weather this year has made it hard to find mudeyes. So if that is the case, try a local scrub worm fished off the bottom. Scrub worms are going to catch a big brown trout that you have always wanted to catch, but they are best fished unweighted; yes a big worm cast out without a sinker.

The shallow bays are the best night fishing locations, however look out for the snags.

If you want to use bait in the middle of the day, then you are best to look at bottom fishing using either a scrub worm, bardi grub or one of the artificial baits.

The secret at the moment to catching trout on bait is to grease up the line to stop the drag on the water and to stop it floating to the bottom into the weed and getting caught up. You need a trout to run with the bait without feeling any resistance and greasing the line will help catch more fish. Always fish with the reel bail arm open so the fish can run with the line. The best line grease is silicon muslin as it will not harm the line.

Happy New Year from all of us at Steve Williamson’s Tackle Shop and Fishing Adventures.

If down in the mountains this month, drop in and say hi at my shop, at Snowline Service Centre, where you will find me next to the Shell Servo. I will have the latest fishing information available and you can also book a tour with me while you are there. For those looking at learning to fly fish we still have vacancies for the 25 and 26 January Gillies Beginner Fly Fishing schools. Check out my web site or give my shop a call for information.

I will also have a weekend Explore the Snowy Mountains Fly Fishing weekend very soon so if interested please give my shop a call on 02 64561551 or e-mail me --e-mail address hidden-- and don’t forget to have a look at my web site www.swtroutfishing.com.au and my new site www.fishingcourses.com.au

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