25 years and counting
  |  First Published: February 2014

Welcome to February and welcome to the 25th Anniversary of my business, Lake Jindabyne Trout Fishing Adventures. Those 25 years have seen a whole lot of trout being caught, and many a story I could tell you about the varied people I’ve guided. Some good anglers and not so good anglers, anglers willing to learn and a few who just wouldn’t listen! Famous people, rich people, poor people, disabled people, and a whole lot of really nice people – some of whom have become good friends.

I was blessed in the early days to have great mentors, whose help contributed to the successes I have achieved over the last 25 years. I won’t mention them all here as some may want to remain anonymous.

Looking back, I can say there haven’t been many fishing TV shows, videos and DVDs that I have not been featured in! Many of the TV shows weren’t even fishing-oriented. I have written articles for many a magazine, published 2 books and written thousands of fishing reports.

My achievements as a business have been many, with national business awards and tourism awards with the biggest achievement being the National Micro Business of the Year award presented to me at Parliament House in Canberra in 2001 and I even have a Lifetime achievement award for Services to Tourism.

Hopefully if there is interest I might even write a book about my experiences as a fishing guide one day. There would be some interesting tales to be told.

I have been writing for NSW Fishing Monthly for many years, and it was a shame to see Tony Zann move on. Thanks Tony – we will all miss you.

I have also been working with [Fishing Monthly Editor] Stephen Booth since he started working in the industry with Freshwater Fishing magazine. Stephen was just a boy at the time and I guess I am sounding a little old right now!

But life goes on for an old trout fishing ‘guru’ as they say, and hopefully you have all enjoyed my reports over the years. I always try to be as honest as possible with how the fishing has been, and what anglers can expect in the coming weeks and months.

As the now President of The Professional Fishing Instructors and Guides Association of Australia, I have many things that I would like to achieve before I retire.

First of all, I would like to see fishing guides licenced or regulated in some way. I am sick to death of self-confessed ‘experts’ claiming to be experienced guides. These operators, with minimal experience in fishing and a lot less in business practices, often damage the guiding industry. It’s time for Fisheries agencies to support accreditation and professional guiding, as is done with maritime and the charter boat industry.

I believe it’s also important that we support nationally recognised fishing courses that are within the guidelines of the Vocational Education and Training system. It is about time the recreational fishing industry realises that fishing is not just a recreational pastime, or even a sport – to thousands of us, it is a professional career. As such, it is time that the government recognise that fact and introduce fishing in one form or another into schools.

So as I head into the 26th year of my career, I would like to talk further about what I think is a way forward for recreational fishing in Australia, and how we can improve our fishing opportunities.

Meanwhile, let’s look at the fishing for February.


As reported last month, the river fishing season was very late this year and is only now about to peak. Due to the late season and cooler conditions the flyfishers are only now experiencing the best flyfishing for years. With lots of bugs about now, the trout are leaping for joy!

The water level on the streams is lower and clear, but river lure spinners are still doing OK with small spinners and small minnow lures.

Over the last month Lake Jindabyne’s water level dropped a tad, but it’s still high and fishing well.

It was also a late start to the boat fishing this season but the trollers are now doing OK early and late with surface lures and on lead core lines and downriggers in the middle of the day. We have seen some very big rainbow trout caught over recent weeks.

Overall it is the time to hit the mountains for a little trout fishing while the weather is warm and the fish are biting, so I hope to see you on the water soon.

Let’s now have a look at how to catch one in a little more detail.

The boat trolling this year has been very good and we are still catching trout on the surface because the water isn’t as warm as it has been in previous years. We have been using downriggers on the really hot and bright days, but the downrigger depth hasn’t been as deep as in previous years. Around 25-35ft is about perfect.

We should see this formula continue over the next month or so. Start off early in the day with surface lines, and the trick is to have at least 60m and even up to 100m of line out to get best results when trolling the edges of the shoreline. After about an hour add a lead core line into the equation. With lead lines you should start with 2 colours (20m) early and 3 colours (30m) later in the morning.

The Tasmanian Devil number 111 ‘Willy’s Special’ is still about the best Tasmanian Devil colour at the moment followed by the yellowing brown bomber. My new black/gold Tasmanian Devil and the holographic have been the best for darker conditions and also have been good for downrigging.

I have also been doing well with 9cm Rapalas down off the downrigger and lead lines. The best colours are rainbow trout and brown trout. Gaden Trout Hatchery released the baby rainbow trout fingerlings into Jindabyne last month so all natural rainbow trout colours are working well.

With water levels still high, some of the better trolling areas this month will be Hatchery Bay and Hayshed Bay and Sid’s Bay through to Rushes Bay. Just be sure to watch the rocks as the East Jindabyne Islands start to reappear as the water levels drop.

The best lure spinning on the lake has been in the shallow bays early and late in the day, and you can start by spinning the edges with Celtas or flicking floating Spotted Dog Rapalas.

The best spinning late in the day is where there are steep drop-offs with plenty of rocks. Bays like Creel, Hatchery and the Snowy Arm all fish well. On brighter days, change to a Tassie and cast further out over drop-offs, letting the lure sink before you slowly retrieve.

The best areas have been down at the South Arm or near Banjo Patterson Park.

Fish are still being caught in the Thredbo River also on small Rapalas in the floating variety, with the best colours being rainbow trout and perch. You can also try some Vibrax Glow spinners very early and late in the day or some soft plastics like the Strike Tiger in olive pepper.

On the smaller streams like the Moonbah or upper Snowy, a variety of lures will work, but the best will be small bladed spinners, like the Gillies Spina or Celtas in numbers 1 or 2. For deeper water, I recommend the Rapala CD5 Spotted Dog or Gillies Tailbender.

Bait fishing on lake Jindabyne has been good over recent months with the higher water levels. Mudeyes have been good used under a float or even worms under a float. You can either let the waves move it about or, if there’s no wind, try to wind it in very slowly with a pause every turn of the handle. Some anglers have been getting good results on the new Ecogear Bream Prawn 40 under a float. These look very much like a real mudeye.

Another bait worth suspending under a float is the old faithful grasshopper. It’s a bait you don’t often see used these days but it works a treat. There are plenty about at the moment but you might need the kids with a butterfly net to help you collect the bait.

The newer artificial Dynamite bait is gaining favour, with the bloodworm and honey work flavours working well over the past month.

The best bait fishing areas are Creel Bay, Hatchery Bay and Curiosity Rocks. Another great area is the bottom of Discovery Holiday Park near Widows Creek Inlet.

Some of the best lake flyfishing is during the coming months, and this year with the steady lake level we should see some big fish caught. Try any of the streamer patterns such as Mrs Simpson and Williamson’s Snowy Mountains Gold Fish. Olive green nymphs and shrimp patterns are also worth a try.

The South Arm, Creel Bay and Kangaroo Bay are all great.

On the rivers, the Thredbo River has been spectacular. The season has been late and we should continue to see some fantastic dry flyfishing again this month.

The Alpine streams are still at their best and plenty of small fish are being caught on dry fly. Fly selection is not too critical in these streams but placement is critical or else you’ll just scare all the fish.

Flies you must have are brown beetle patterns, Snowy Hopper, Stimulator, Royal Wulff and Parachute hoppers. Maybe a brown and a black nymph if the fish are not rising and a white moth or white Wulff. You had better throw a midge pattern, brown mayfly and an Adams in as well to make certain you have most circumstances covered.

All in all, we are looking good for at least some great lake fishing over the coming months, so get your gear together and come and try some our fantastic trout fishing.

If you would like some personal guiding, I will be available over the coming months for flyfishing tuition and lake trolling trips. Lessons can be booked from 2 hours and trolling trips from 3 hours to a full day.

If you want to know more about the latest in fishing conditions, give me a call on 02 64 561551 or visit www.swtroutfishing.com.au . We also post daily updates on Facebook – just search for Steve Williamson’s Trout Fishing Adventures and like the page.

Until next month, hope you catch the big one.

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