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Streams are at their best
  |  First Published: October 2007



The spring thaw of snow is happening at the moment and with the rivers and streams now open to fishing, it’s a great time to get up into the mountains and try some of the great spinning and fly fishing while it’s at its best.

The rainbow trout spawn run is just about over but there are still some fish to be found and they have been on the bite, attacking spinners and flies with a vengeance.

The talk of late has still been about how much water our lakes will have this summer and unfortunately we really didn’t get as much snow on the ground as we would have hoped for. But all is not bad, we have been getting a little rain to help us along and if that continues we should be right for summer even if the lakes remain low.

You have to remember that Lake Jindabyne has been low for the past four or five years, firstly because of construction work on the dam wall and then last year the level remained low because of the bad snow season. But while everyone talked down the low lake levels we had no problem catching trout and with the lake at a minimum operational level, as it has been over the Autumn and Winter, there is still a lot of water in there and the fishing was fabulous.

Anyhow, at the moment the lake is rising quickly with the snowmelt and now is the time to experience some of the great fishing available.

Water temperatures are now approaching 12° and the fish are happy to feed on top early and late in the day.

TROLLING

Trolling has been excellent over the past month and I expect the good fishing to continue and even improve as the lake continues to rise. The usual tactic of fishing on the surface in shallow water at first light and then moving out into deeper water with 20m or 30m of lead-core line will extend the better fishing well into the late morning.

The best lures to use early up will be small minnows like Rapalas, Min Mins, StumpJumpers and Rebel Crickhoppers, to name a few. Choose the darker colours early and then troll these little lures on line of no more than 3kg and keep them 40m from the boat. Braid is a good option when using long drop-backs so you can keep the lure deeper.

Fishing over the weed beds in shallow water before the sun rises will get some big brown trout if you’re lucky. Brown trout and rainbow trout lure patterns are best for this.

If you just want a feed of rainbow trout you might be best to troll Tasmanian Devils close to the edges, but not as close as if you were targeting browns. Weaving the boat will put a little variation in lure action and result in more hoo-kups. Use darker lures early with the Y48 or No 94 great. Try the yellow wing version of No 94 a little later as the sun is about to rise over the horizon.

After the sun hits that water, it’s time to change to a No 36, Y82 or my Steve Williamson red nosed yellow wing. As the sun gets higher it’s time to get the lure lower into the water and lead core or downriggers do that.

There are still plenty of those monster ex-brood Atlantic salmon in the lake and October is the time to catch one of these beauties – but there is really no special place or lure colour, you just have to be in the right spot at the right time.

SPINNING

It has been a great season for spinning the lake edges and with the water rising over new ground there are plenty of trout biting early and late in the day. The relatively stable water levels of the past 12 months have helped the weed beds stabilise.

In the middle of the day you can still catch a fish if you work the deeper drop-offs and allow the lures to sink a little before retrieving. Tassies have been best for this because they sink quite quickly to any depth. Some of the Berkley Gulp baits are catching trout when retrieved like a lure and I am sure it is the smell that attracts the trout.

The Thredbo River still has a few late spawning rainbows, which are a lot easier to catch early in the day than later. Gold Celtas or Gillies spinners and a variety of minnow lures are catching their fair share.

I like the jointed Rapalas that you can work with a slow, stop-and-go retrieve through the pools and undercut banks. Remember, there’s no bait fishing in most Snowy Mountains rivers. Always check the rules before using bait in rivers or streams to avoid hefty fines and check with DPI Fisheries on the legalities of using artificial products like Berkley Gulp baits in their various forms.

BAIT FISHING

Lake bait fishing has been excellent for months now. At some time or another each day the fish are coming on the bite and you just need a line in the water to catch them.

Worms are best for brown trout while the Berkley Gulps are proving themselves for rainbow trout and salmon. This year it is going to be even harder to get live bait and you may find that if tackle stores do have mudeyes or bardi grubs, you are going to be paying top dollar.

If you want to catch a big brown trout then the best baits are still going to be bardis or scrub worms fished on a greased line to stop it sinking into the weed.

FLY SEASON

We are going to be in for an interesting fly season. The lake level is great at the moment and it will fish well. There are plenty of shrimp and the rainbows are feeding on water fleas (Daphnia) and as we get a few more insects hatching we may get some good early morning rises.

The best flies have been small shrimp patterns and Olive Nymphs, best fished slowly under an indicator. Spotting fish around the lake edges is possible but fish have been spooky so far this season.

On the streams the fishing has been good with brown and green nymphs best. The Thredbo River is producing some fish on nymphs and Glo Bugs in the faster water and already there has been a little dry-fly fishing.

My beginner fly fishing school is on October 20 and 21 and there’s a free fly rod for readers who mention fishing Monthly when they book. A two-day trolling clinic will be held in conjunction with the Snowy Mountains Trout Festival on November 3 and 4. Call my shop on 02 64561551, email me or visit www.swtroutfishing.com.au .

RULE CHANGES

There have been a few changes to the fishing rules for trout so please get a copy of the new guidelines. As I see it, the main changes for our trout waters will be:

• Unattended lines will no longer be permitted. The distance a fisher may be from an attended line will be increased from 10m to 50m and within line of sight. This means that on the dams you could put out a bait rod and then go 50m away and have a spin or fly-fish.

• Previously, freshwater bag and possession limits applied only to fishers in, on or adjacent to waters. This has been extended to include the transport and storage of freshwater fish to provide clarification and ease with compliance. This means that you could have you car checked at any place down the road and technically you could have your freezer checked to see if you have more than 10 fish in possession, even if you are a local.

• A bag limit of five will continue to apply in general trout waters. That means that the Tantangara Dam limit is now only five trout, bringing it in line with the other trout dams.

• One rod and line will be permitted in artificial lure and fly and lure waters and general trout streams. This means that you can carry only one rod (assembled with reel) when walking rivers like the Eucumbene and Thredbo. You cannot carry a spin and a fly rod both ready for fishing.

• Two rods and lines are permitted in general trout dams. The current limit of two hooks per line will continue to apply in all notified trout waters except trout dams, where the number of hooks per line has been increased to three (where hooks are artificial lures or flies) to allow for loch-style fishing. So on the trout dams you can use three hooks when using flies or lures but you can’t use three hooks when bait fishing!

• The prohibition on the use of gaffs to take trout will be extended to all freshwater species and waters.

Remember, these are only a few important changes as I see the rules. There are more and it will be up to you to check them out.

KEEP IT LEGAL

While we are at it, there are a few other things I’d like to remind you of.

Make sure you do not use a gaff. Best not have one on your boat.

Make sure you do not have any traps that are enclosed, like a bait trap; they are illegal.

Don’t have any handlines in your boat or tackle box.

Do not have more than two rods set up ready to fish. That means that even if you are trolling you should not have any more than two rods per person rigged and that includes bait rods. If walking the rivers, which are mostly lure and fly only in our area, have just one rod assembled per person.

Make sure you carry your NSW Fishing licence with you. If you’ve left it at home it is only $6 to buy another to cover you for three days. No licence and you will be fined!

It is not legal to catch and keep five fish in the morning and another five in the afternoon. Five fish per angler per day is the rule on the dams, not five per session! You will get fined if you have more then 10 in your possession at any time. And, yes, the Fisheries inspectors can check out the freezer where you are staying!

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