The secrets of tricky trout
  |  First Published: December 2015

Anglers expecting good fishing in the streams as the trout season opened after a four-month layoff have been disappointed with the outcome in our part of the world. Most streams were in good condition for the opening, with plenty of cover and a good flow of clear, cold water – conditions that should have been excellent right through the region. Unfortunately, it was not to be, with few anglers returning home satisfied from an outing. The fish simply did not show.

The same disappointing reports came from many streams, including the big ones – the Thredbo, Eucumbene, Murrumbidgee and other waterways that normally should have fished well. Some anglers hiked deep into the Kosciuszko, upper Tumut, Geehi and Goobragandra wilderness, expecting to find plenty of fish well away from the opening season crowds. They too were disappointed and one group in particular said they never even saw a fish, much less caught one.

Varying theories have been put forward to explain the lack of fish but most anglers believe that an unseasonal burst of heat on the opening weekend was to blame. The temperature rose to 30°C on a day when we would normally expect a maximum of about 14°C. More importantly there was intense sunlight for the whole opening week. Fish don't like bright sunlight. They have no eyelids to protect themselves and all they can do to escape the sun is get deep into a weed bed or under an overhanging stream bank.

They appear to have gone deep and stayed deep, probably only feeding at night, at a time when anglers weren’t around – hence no fish.

The only productive area reported to date is around the streams east of Cooma. The Kydra, Kybean, Badja, Big Badja and associated waterways carry a good number of resident fish and veteran anglers knowexactly where to find them. A number of rainbows to 1.4kg and larger browns were caught on fly and released. One angler caught and released a 2.5kg brown he thought he recognised as a fish he had caught and released the previous year.

Lakes Firing

By contrast the lake fishing has been good. Fly anglers have done well at Rushy Plains Bay, Middlingbank, Buckenderra and Yens Bay in Eucumbene, using brown nymph, Hamills Killer, Woolly Bugger and Muddler Minnow, with rainbows to 1.8kg and browns to 2.6kg. Bait fishers have caught some nice fish on scrub worms, wood grubs and PowerBait. Trollers have had the most success on small minnow patterns and Tasmanian Devils, on flat line, but especially on lead core line and downrigger.

Jindabyne has fished extremely well, especially for one angler who has discovered Gulp salmon eggs. Jindabyne has a problem with the large population of goldfish who eat all the soft Gulp and PowerBait offerings, denying the trout a feed. But they won't touch the firmer salmon eggs, which remain in situ until a trout finds them. The angler discovered this and fished with salmon eggs each day for eight days, landing 20 large rainbows and a host of small ones. Enough were kept for the table and the rest released.

Urban Lakes

The most productive fisheries at the moment are the urban lakes in Canberra where the golden perch are going gangbusters. Everybody is catching them and it’s simply a matter of chucking in a scrub worm, wood grub or yabby, especially in Burley Griffin, Ginninderra and Yerrabi. Most anglers are catching 1-3 fish in a session and some up to 8. The fish range from about 1.5kg to thumpers up to 6.8kg.

It's been a similar story at Burrinjuck too, where good catches of golden perch have been made on bait and on Burrinjuck Specials and Jackalls. On the downside, the park manager has reported seeing carcasses of undersized and out of season Murray cod at the cleaning tables. Not on chaps, not on.

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