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Always chasing rainbows
  |  First Published: February 2014



Something is terribly wrong with the rainbow trout in the Snowy Mountains lakes – there aren’t any.

The first inkling of a problem came during the rainbow spawning run up the Eucumbene River in August-September 2013. The river was full of rainbows, all seemingly in good health. Then there was a major flood and few fish were seen thereafter.

When the season opened in October the absence of rainbows in anglers’ catches was immediately noticeable. The browns were there, and even though they were hard to catch they did provide some satisfaction for the many hours that bait, fly and lure anglers put in.

Now, 3 months on, the rainbows have still failed to put in an appearance and anglers as well as fisheries biologists are becoming more concerned. Various anecdotal theories have been put forward to explain the absence of the fish – wipe-out by floods, predation by cormorants, pathogens, change in diet whereby fish are concentrating in deeper water feeding on Daphnia, yabbies etc. Or simply not responding normally because of the adverse, changeable and erratic weather conditions we have experienced in the past few months.

I can find no validity for any of these suggestions, except perhaps for the erratic weather. It’s interesting to note that there is plenty of food available for the fish. There have been massive insect hatches during the past few months but little sign of rainbows feeing on them.

So it’s a dilemma. Normally at this time of the year you chuck in some Power Bait, Gulp, scrubworms or bardi grubs and you have a rainbow. Troll a small minnow lure or cast a fly and you have another fish. But at the moment you can put in many hundreds of hours and you might be lucky enough to score some browns but not a rainbow. NSW Fisheries are worried and are investigating, while anglers are scratching their heads for an answer. We’ll keep you posted if anything is discovered or if anything changes.

Year Of The Cod

Trout may be hard to find this year but the opposite applies with Murray cod and golden perch—they are being caught in droves.

Burrinjuck has been a standout location, with numerous cod to 103cm taken on bait, spinnerbaits and deep divers and plenty of golden perch on bait and lure. The best of the cod have come from the Main Basin but the goldens have been more numerous up the Murrumbidgee Arm and the Yass River Arm. Shrimps, yabbies and scrub worms have been the top baits.

Blowering also has been fishing well, with news just to hand of a monster cod 140cm long and estimated about 70kg being captured. 

Canberra angler Mick Maher also had great success at the Yamaha Cod Classic fished at Lake Mulwala, beating 2200 other anglers to win the trophy for the largest cod. It was 113cm long and took a brown Custom Craft lure made by our mates in Wagga.

Canberra’s local lakes also have fished well. There have been good numbers of cod and golden perch on bait and lure and even a couple on fly.

The big new sport, though, is fishing for cod at night with big, splashy surface lures. Everybody is having a crack at it, fishing up until 1am on some nights with lures such as the Halco Nightwalker, Koppers Live Target Field Mouse, Heddon Torpedo and Lucky 13, River2Sea Live Frog, Honey Hole Surface Walker, Manta Ray, Taylor Made Surface Breaker and Cod Walloper and the Mudeye Depthcharger. The big strikes are electrifying and some nice fish have been taken – the best so far from Yerrabi Pondage went 87cm and there are larger ones yet to be landed. This is a new sport that is definitely here to stay.

Biological Control Of Carp

The other new sport is feeding carp to pelicans, vying to see how large a fish one of these biological control agents can get down their throat. To date the record is 3.5kg, set in Yarralumla Bay in Lake Burley Griffin. The procedure is to wave a carp you caught – and banged with a baseball bat – in the air until a pelican sees it and comes over. You toss the bird the catch and after it carefully arranges the fish it picks up the carp head first, holds it in its bill for a moment, then throws it down the hatch. Too funny, and a good result all round.

Carp And redfin Active

Carp have all finished spawning and are active in all of our local waterways. The coarse fishing brigade held their annual Canberra Classic in Burley Griffin and it was a great success. They fish with traditional rod and pole combinations and really are masters of their art – some of the best fine line fishermen in Australia.

The redfin also have finally put in an appearance. They made a late start this year, presumably because of the odd weather but are now around in droves. Despite their pest status they are good fun to catch, delightful to eat and even make good aquarium fish where regulations allow them to be kept in captivity.

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