Dawn of the spawn – time to get some big browns!
  |  First Published: May 2016

Welcome to May, the month when we really see a change in the weather in the Snowy Mountains. The mornings are often frosty and close to 0°C and the days see temperatures between 15-24°C. The cooling water makes now a great time to catch trout.

The rules for spawning rivers like the Thredbo and Eucumbene rivers change in May to only one trout over 50cm to be kept. Keep this in mind and always check with the local NSW Fisheries regulations before fishing a waterway. Last year I wrote about late summer and early autumn being cooler and wetter – in 2016 we’ve had the opposite so the lake water temperatures have been a little slower to cool down. Without any heavy rain, it is possible we may see a much later spawning season for the trout this year. Only time will tell.

Let’s look at what to expect with the fishing over the coming month.


Minnow lures like the small StumpJumpers or Bullet minnows will work better from now on as the trout move into spawning mode. After rain when the river is high, use sinking or deeper diving minnows and stick to smaller lures when the water is low and clear. Don’t worry about the size of lures if the river is in flood because you might find that bigger is better. The Thredbo River is my river of choice from now until rivers close in June.

If we get rain and the brown trout start to run on the Thredbo River, then you might like to use the drift rigging technique to catch the trout as they sit in the deeper faster water. Team up a fly like a weighted black nymph with a Glo Bug and let the rig bounce along the bottom with the aid of some split shot is one way to catch trout on artificial flies using a normal spinning outfit. If you don’t know how to drift rig then call into my shop when you are down and we can set you up, or you can book a tour and learn from me personally.


The streams and rivers will still have good days even this late in the season, and all depends on the weather as it can often start to get nasty in the mountains as we head into winter and snow. Recently in the mountain streams fish have been taken on brown or black nymphs out of the running water, but you never know, a sunny day with insects about might even get a fish to take a dry fly.

As the rain comes, and more trout move into the Thredbo River to spawn, anglers will begin to chase big trophy fish and fly anglers will have the best success using Glo Bugs and nymphs. Black and brown nymphs in about a size 10 or 12 are good. Make sure you have some weighted flies for when the river is flowing hard, as you need to get the fly down to the fish to catch them.

Lake Jindabyne will fish better this month as the edge water cools down. Water temperatures have a big effect on how close to shore the fish hang, but it’s cooler now and the fishing is much better and will continue to improve as the water cools even further.

Flies to try over the coming months will be the purple/black Woolly Bugger and Mrs Simpson. Don’t forget the Williamson’s Gold Fish around the creek inlets during the late evening.


This month the shore based lake-fishing gets better for the bait angler. Big brown trout cruise the edges looking for a feed before they head into the rivers on their spawning run. Worms teamed with artificial baits and fished off the bottom is a method that is working well at the moment on Lake Jindabyne.

The best areas to try over the next couple of months will be Waste Point at Creel Bay and the Snowy Arm near the pumping station.


As the water starts to cool down the lake spinning will improve. Tasmanian Devil lures in brown colours such as number 48, the Red Nosed Brown Bomber and Holographic will catch you fish. My Steve Williamson orange and black Tasmanian Devil also work a treat at the moment. When the water temperature gets below 14°C, pink or orange lures always work well.

On the lake, good spinning areas to try are Creel Bay, Waste Point, The Snowy Arm and for fish still actively feeding try Curiosity Rocks, Wollondibby Inlet, Hatchery Bay and The Claypits area.


Lake trolling is interesting in autumn as some days the fish will strike out of aggression and some days they will be feeding and different lures will work at different times. Knowing what the weather is about to do will help. As with spinning on the lake, big lures are well worth a try for big browns when they are in aggressive mode.

The weed beds are close to the edge now as the water level drops a little, so troll early in close with lures that don’t dive too deep. Tasmanian Devil lures are still well worth a try, and this month is the time I often change to pink or orange coloured lures. Tasmanian Devils in colours 55 pink or 56 orange are good lures to try for non-feeding fish.

Even at this time of year the day will often warm up and the fish will still go deeper. Lead core lines and downriggers will still be very useful over the coming month. Remember all the photos in the magazines of big fish caught off downriggers with big minnow lures trolled slowly?

Dual depth Tasmanian Devil lures rigged through the side hole to troll deeper to 4m will also help during he middle of the day, but make sure you don’t troll too fast when this lure is rigged in the deep dive hole. The dual depth lure works best when trolled under 2km/h.

Lion and Cub Islands always fish well in autumn for rainbow trout, and as the brown trout move to the end of the lake ready to spawn, Creel Bay and the Snowy River Arm are well worth trying.

• If you would like some personal guiding, I will be available over the coming months for fly-fishing tuition and lake trolling trips. Lessons can be booked from 2 hours’ duration, and trolling trips from 3 hours to a full day. If you want to know more about the latest in fishing conditions, just give me a call on (0264) 561 551 or check out my website at www.swtroutfishing.com.au. You can also see our daily Facebook updates at https://www.facebook.com/LJTFA.

May roundup – the best of the best!

Best method:Surface trolling early and then using lead core lines at 30m out.
Best depth:Trolling at 10ft deep in the middle of the day.
Best lake lure:Rapala ‘Pinkie’ and Tasmanian Devil pink number 55.
Best lake area:Creel Bay and Snowy arm at the pumping station.
Best fly method:Glow Bugs and nymphs on the Thredbo River once we get heavy rain.
Best river:Thredbo River for the bigger brown trout when the spawn run starts.
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