Snow and fish – can it be any better?
  |  First Published: July 2007

July is always an interesting moth for trout fishing in the Snowy Mountains. The start of the NSW school holidays is always the beginning of the rush in the ski resorts but, down on the lake, it’s all quiet and you can fish in peace.

The fish are not pressured by lots of anglers and boats and rainbow and brown trout can be seen cruising close to shore looking for a bite to eat. With the water so cold at around 6°, the metabolism of the trout is slow and so you have to be aware of that when fishing. Baits on the bottom or suspended under a float will catch trout as they cruise by but if you are fly fishing or spinning with lures, you have to slow down your retrieve and leave the fly or lure in the fish’s face longer.

If you’re out in a boat on the lake over Winter, trolling lures a lot slower than in Summer is also the way to increase the number of trout you catch.

July is also when we start to see some of the very big Atlantic salmon caught in Lake Jindabyne. Some of these fish are hatchery-release brood fish that are beyond their used-by date and each year the Gaden Trout Hatchery releases some monsters into the lake after they have been stripped of eggs for the breeding program.

It does take a little time for these fish to put on condition and to get used to their new surroundings but they are naturally aggressive fish and you will always catch them on a lure if it’s dragged past one’s nose. These salmon, some over 8kg, will give you the fight of your life. I prefer to photograph and release any of these big fish I catch over Winter because they aren’t in good enough condition to eat. Give the fish time to eat some natural food and put on a bit of extra weight.

This is also the time when we get most of the snow on the mountains and the weather can change very quickly, so always check for any major changes before heading out in a boat. It takes only minutes for the lake to go from mirror-flat to metre-high waves and 100kmh winds.

It’s the big weather changes that improve the fishing at this time of year. I always make certain I’m on the water as soon as the change passes because this is when the fish are on the bite. The longer the weather is fine and the longer a high-pressure system hangs about, the harder the fishing becomes. So weekly cold changes are great for fishing over Winter.

The best lures when trolling for big trout in Winter are the Tasmanian Devils in pink 55, orange 57 and brown Y48. Y82 has been another great pattern well worth a try.

Anglers who want trophy browns might consider a small minnow lure like the brown trout pattern Rapala or one of the very few little minnow lures available in bright pink these days, the 3” StumpJumper. We catch a lot of fish using this great little Australian designed lure.

Trolling minnows on three colours of lead-core line over weed beds in shallow, protected bays will often result in a strike that will almost stop the boat. You just have to be lucky enough to hang onto the rod at the strike. Jointed lures like the Rebels and Rapalas have a unique action and are great for big browns when trolled very slowly. Remember, slow is good when the water is cold and the fish are sluggish.

Trolling flies off fly lines (harling) is also very productive in Winter and trolling flies on lead-core lines during the middle of the day produces some big browns if you stay just over the weed beds.

Good areas for trolling this month are the South Arm, the Snowy Arm, East Jindabyne Islands and Hayshed Bay.

Because the lake is so low this year, fly fishing has been very good because the weed beds are so close to the shore. You will see fish cruising if you have your polarised glasses on.

Polaroiding trout is best done on the sunnier days and that is the time I like to fly fish the lake anyway, I never have gone much on fly fishing when it is snowing or during the cold Winter nights. Something like a Brown Nymph, a Mrs Simpson or a shrimp pattern will get good results. My Williamson’s Gold Fish works in the quiet, weedy bays. The best areas for Winter polaroiding are Creel Bay, Hatchery Bay, Sids Bay and the Kalkite end of the lake.

Spinning from shore works well. In the middle of the day Tassie colours like pink 55, yellow wing 36 and brown 48 work best at a slow retrieve. Try the Snowy Arm, Creel Bay and Wollondibby Inlet.

For Winter bait fishing, simple rigs work best. Worms and Berkley’s PowerBait bring results. When worm fishing, use plenty of tiger worms or a single scrub worm and fish them off the bottom using a running sinker. Orange and lemon twist and fluoro orange PowerBait have been catching a lot of good trout over the past couple of months and a jar of each is highly recommended.

Because the fish move about the lake so much over Winter there is no particular spot better than another but fish shallow water early and late and slightly deeper water in the sunny parts of the day – but not too deep. Call in to my shop at the Snowline Centre on Kosciuszko Road for the latest information. I run fishing tours right through Winter and the shop is open seven days a week with extended hours over July and August.

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