If you want to be a year-round angler in our part of the world you will eventually find yourself fishing in the snow. Although that might sound cold and miserable, on a good weather day it can be quite enjoyable. With warming winter sun, a picture-postcard landscape and fish frolicking in the cold water that they love it can give you a day to remember.
And that’s exactly the weather we have had during the past few weeks. It’s been good weather and good fishing.
It’s not without its hazards, however. One angler recently complained that during a blizzard the snowflakes were so large they were knocking his fly out of the sky. A slight exaggeration, but an interesting observation all the same.
Then there was my champagne. On one trip to the upper end of Lake Eucumbene I buried two bottles of champagne in the snow in the morning, anticipating a pleasant victory lunch later in the day. Unfortunately, while I was fishing the snow kept falling and when I went to got the champers I couldn’t work out which load of fresh snow it was under. I finished up drinking snowmelt for lunch and I bet some lucky bastard would have got my champers after the spring thaw. Such is life.
After a lean spell, fishing has improved dramatically in recent weeks in the big mountain lakes.
At Jindabyne there were some good rainbows and a few browns caught on Powerbait, and more browns on scrub worms and wood grubs. The best locations have been Hatchery Bay and Kalkite.
One group also did well with Z-Man soft plastics. Unable to fish from the boat because of high winds, they parked in the Snowy Arm and walked the bank tossing out the soft plastics. They had an unexpected response, getting 12 hookups and landing six fish in about two hours. The haul included an 8.4kg Atlantic salmon, a 2.6kg brown and four good rainbows.
It should be about time for polaroiding, but to date that has been slow. One angler put in a whole day for nothing but had to compete with school holiday tourists enjoying themselves chucking rocks and sticks into the water. Lovely manners, I must say.
Eucumbene, too, put on a good show. One group who fished Yens Bay were delighted to see a lake-wide rise as soon as they got there. Thousands of fish were rising simultaneously, hungry for the natural goodies in the water as well as anything the anglers could throw in.
The first throw with Powerbait yielded a 4kg brown and subsequent casts resulted in another brown and five fat rainbows. It was a day that every angler dreams of and has occurred several times since as the fish feel the first tickles of the impending spring.
Fly fishing also is improving. One angler seeking shelter from the wind fished behind some tall rocks in the Middlingbank Arm in Eucumbene and landed six nice rainbows on cased caddis fished under an indicator. Interestingly, all of the fish were males.
Trollers have started to get a few fish, mostly on Tasmanian Devils and small minnow patterns. Most have been taken flatlining but one group fishing extremely deep with a downrigger caught some lovely big browns. They recently fished about 20m down and landed five large browns on a day when most other anglers went home fishless. It just goes to show the value of trying different techniques when the fish are otherwise hard to find.
In Canberra’s urban lakes, golden perch, redfin and even carp look to have shut down. It’s too cold for the fish to move and the redfin are probably spawning and too busy to feed.
At Burrinjuck, with deeper and stratified water, a few fish are still active. Some redfin schools have shown up in the Murrumbidgee Arm at Maceys Bay and Scrubby and the fish will take jigged scrub worms. A few golden perch have been taken from the bank on scrub worms, with the best fishing late in the afternoon and at night.
The old bushys’ adage that the Murray cod move when the wattle blooms is turning out to be correct, yet again. The wattle is out and some nice cod have been seen and taken. At Googong Reservoir, several anglers chasing redfin with small lures have been startled to see a huge cod lunge at the lure at the last minute, predictably always just missing getting hooked. Several fish in the 75-90cm range were also caught in the Main Basin at Burrinjuck and two 90cm fish were caught on scrub worms near Taemus Bridge. All were released. The closed season now starts and the fish are to be left to spawn in peace until 1 December.
In the meantime, we will continue to enjoy our fishing in the snow and some delightful feeds of fresh trout as we look forward to the countdown to the opening of the stream season on the October Long Weekend.
Oh, and give me a call if you found my grog.Reads: 550