Rains are falling on Canberra
  |  First Published: January 2016

It’s amazing how quickly rain can change things in the fishing world. Just one month ago we were worried about a developing El Nino system. The weather was hot, the sun was piercingly bright and trout in the streams had bedded down and were virtually uncatchable.

Now we’ve had substantial rain throughout the Canberra-Monaro district and the fishing pattern has changed dramatically. Streams are flowing again, air and water temperatures have fallen, the fish have moved back into the upper layers of water, and more importantly, have started feeding during the day instead of just at night. Fly and lure fishers, who could hardly catch a fish in the streams, have suddenly begun reporting good fish captures in all of the regional waterways, including the important streams east of Cooma, in the high alpine areas and all around Tumut. Some of the fish have been quite spectacular and include a 3.2kg rainbow caught on a Woolly Bugger and several browns 2.2-2.8kg also caught on Woolly Buggers, and small nymphs. Numerous good-sized browns and rainbows have suddenly shown in waters seemingly barren just a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately this doesn’t mean that El Nino is about to vanish. The most likely scenario is that it’s just lurking in the background, to emerge powerfully as soon as this freakish rain period declines. Then we will drop back into the bad situation. So the message is still the same as it was a month ago – get all your stream fishing in as soon as possible, because the good times won’t last very long.

Lakes Good Alternative

Thankfully, if and when the stream fishing declines, the big mountain lakes Jindabyne, Eucumbene and Tantangara will provide useful fishing alternatives. Most of the 650 anglers who fished the 2015 Snowy Mountains Trout Festival in early November reported satisfying fishing, with a good scatter of browns to 2.8kg, rainbows to 3.2kg and a few brook trout and small Atlantic salmon. The fish were taken on fly, such as on Woolly Buggers, stick caddis and brown nymphs, on Tasmanian Devils and small hardbodied minnows on three colours of lead core line, and on bait consisting of scrub worms, wood grubs and PowerBait.

Golden Chances

Golden perch have also provided a lot of fun in Canberra’s urban lakes, Burrinjuck, Wyangala and Burrendong. Lure fishers have taken plenty on Burrinjuck Specials, Jackalls and the sensational 8cm black minnow grub from Gulp. Big catches have also been made with scrub worms, yabbies, shrimps and wood grubs.

Cod Opening

The focus of attention now shifts to Murray cod. The season opened on 1 December in both the ACT and NSW. Catch results from earlier in 2015, together with stockings since then by ACT and NSW government agencies, suggest there should be plenty of fish around. The now-common practice of catch-and-release also means there are many more larger fish around than in previous years. The million-dollar tagged fish on offer at this year’s Mulwala Cod Classic also should provide a lot of interest to kick off the season. All in all things are looking good.

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