Big changes on the lake
  |  First Published: September 2007

For many reasons, September is month of big changes in the Snowy Mountains. The rainbow trout are spawning, the deciduous trees are getting fresh green leaves and the days are getting warmer. But, as we know, the nights are still cold.

Most of the brown trout are back in Lake Eucumbene from their spawning run in rivers and creeks, leaving room for the rainbows’ spectacular spawning run. Some of the smaller creeks can be so full of rainbows that you can almost walk across the creek on their backs.

Please remember, the creeks and rivers are still closed for fishing until the October long weekend so leave the fish alone so they can do their job and we get more fish for years to come.

It can be very rewarding to walk the banks of the lake with a light spinning rod. Try a few winged lures like a Lofty’s Cobra or a Tassie Devil in yellow, gold, pink or orange.

Find a nice yabby bank, cast out and let the lure sink to the bottom, lift the rod and start retrieving. Quite often you get the hook-up when you lift the rod but if there are too many snags around you can be in strife.

When it comes to bait fishing, you can be in for a big surprise, Post-spawn browns are super-hungry and if they see a fat grub or scrub worm, they go for it. We still prefer the double-hook set-up where you use a grub and PowerBait under a running sinker. The Browns love grubs and the rainbows love grubs and PowerBait so you shouldn’t miss any of them if they are around.


In our book, trolling is always good. It’s one of the easiest ways of fishing year-round and September is the time for bright lures trolled over weed beds at a slower speed than usual. The water is still cold so the fish can be a bit sluggish, so if the lure is not close and travels too fast, they give it a miss.

Use flatlines and lead-core so you cover different depths. The browns are normally chasing yabbies around the weed beds and mud banks so they are often deeper than the rainbows.


The only trouble when fly fishing this time of the year is the cold water. If it’s windy and cold, we give it a miss – icy fingers are quite uncomfortable and not our cup of tea but sunny days with a light breeze are a different story.

Walking the banks with polarised sunglasses trying to spot a cruising fish is a lovely way of fly fishing. This will also give you great exercise because Lake Eucumbene is a big lake and the banks, even though the water level is down, are never-ending.

For advice about what lures and flies are appropriate for the time you’re here and the weather conditions, go to the local tackle store and seek advice.

While you’re enjoying the early Spring in this special alpine environment as the weather warms up and rare and unique alpine wildflowers show their faces, give a thought to the other changes that have happened here over the last 50 years.

For a moment, forget the debate about whether global warming is or isn’t happening. What we do know for certain is that in Australia it is an historically proven fact that there are cycles of drought followed by cycles of heavy rain and snow.

Fifty years ago when Lake Eucumbene was built, the eastern part of Australia was a lot wetter than it is now. Once the construction of this huge lake was completed, it didn’t take all that long for it to be storing a huge volume of water. It remained that way until the early 1980s, when a dry period was experienced.

Then there was another cycle of plenty until the mid-’90s, when slowly it became clear that a prolonged dry spell had set in. We all learnt at school that a drought often preceded bad times, such as depressions or wars, so we all know that these climate cycles can have devastating effects.


If we want more water in the lake, we have to give Mother Nature a helping hand. Cloud seeding so far is being done only on a trial basis in the southern end of the Snowy Mountains.

Of course, this only benefits the ski fields and water catchments over there including Lake Jindabyne and the snow resorts around Perisher. That’s all very good for them and they say that they’re very happy with the results.

However, the decision to concentrate on that area is economically discriminatory. Lake Eucumbene is in the northern end of the Kosciusko National Park and close to the family-friendly snow resort of Selwyn Snowfields.

Recently the NSW ski resorts and now Snowy River Shire Council have called for an expansion to the current six-year trial program, now in its fourth year, to cover a larger area in the north of the Kosciusko Park and to go for 10 years. This would include the Selwyn and the Lake Eucumbene catchment area.

The current area permitted by the NSW Government for cloud seeding is only 1000 square kilometres and the Government takes advice from NPWS. It is known that more than twice this area is highly suitable for cloud-seeding operations.

Just think how this would help the northern end of the KNP to get back to its former glory, with more snow during Winter and vastly improved water flows in our creeks and rivers in the warmer months. This means more water in our lake, more fish habitat and more water for the irrigation and hydro-electricity industries.

Cloud seeding would not harm native species or the environment. Snowy Hydro, which is doing all the research, is working very closely with the NSW Department of Climate Change, Environment and Water, exploring the possibility of this opportunity. Snowy Hydro is spending over $2 million a year in research and development so they are putting in the dollars and this will benefit us anglers.

Cloud-seeding technology has been around for over 50 years and is used in more than 50 countries, including the US, Russia, China, India, Thailand, Indonesia, South Africa and Israel.

In Australia in the 1950s the CSIRO showed that this technology achieved around 20% increases in snowfall. In Tasmania it has been used for over 40 years. In Queensland a trial in going to start in November and another is proposed in Western Australia in 2008. So its long-term effects are well known and obviously not seen as a threat.

We’re talking about more water for Lake Eucumbene. We fishos need the water level to steadily increase over the next few years. This drought has seen our lake fulfil the role for which was built, to drought-proof south-eastern Australia. The extreme drought of the past five years have pushed it to its limit and now it needs help and if there isn’t a significant inflow from snowmelt, this cannot happen.

We all have a role to play by letting our parliamentary representatives know that we stakeholders in this wonderful area have a right to be listened to.

The snowmelt is the vital factor that determines how successfully we will fish for the next 12 months. So while you’re up here enjoying the Spring changes we can all see and enjoy, give a thought to how you can help Lake Eucumbene recover and protect south-eastern Australia in the future.

• For regular updates about fishing information in this unique area check www.alpinetouristpark.com.au/fishing.shtml and www.adaminabyangler.com.au/reports.html. To find out everything that Adaminaby offers: www.alpinetouristpark.com.au/adaminaby.html


Two Snowy Hydro ground-based generators on Grey Hill propel the heated silver iodide across a propane flame into the rising cold air mass to help seed snowfalls. (Picture courtesy of Snowy Hydro)


A Snowy Hydro illustration of how the cloud seeding process works.


Lake Eucumbene on a July day showing what a wonderful snow season the region experienced and how important a good snowfall is to the lake.

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