If you’re not sure, fish the shore
  |  First Published: July 2016

Winter has finally arrived after a very slow start. Again June’s temperatures continued to be a little above average, which did make it quite pleasant to sit by the lake and trout fish.

Winter fishing is always good as there is less terrestrial food about for the trout, so they are more likely to be cruising all day looking for something to eat around the edges of the lake and amongst the weed beds where insect larvae and nymphs are found overwintering.

Shore-based angling is the way to go and the worse the weather in the mountains the better the trout will bite.

With the lake level still quite high this winter and very little change in the level over recent months, the edge fishing has been very good with areas like The Claypits and Curiosity Rocks area fishing very well at present.

These areas are also where some of those very big ex-brood Gaden Trout Hatchery Atlantic salmon and brook trout that were released late last May are hanging out at present.

Most of the early spawning brown trout are also now back from the rivers and into the lake, so you can expect them to be cruising the edges looking for some food and lures, flies and bait will all catch these fish.

So with lots of winter fishing still ahead, grab a good pair of boots and a warm jacket and come down and try for a winter trout fishing experience!

At this time of the year it doesn’t matter what method of fishing you are doing, all you need to know is the fish are close to the edges and you need not cast out too far.

This year with the lake so high, there is a lot more cover for fish to hide amongst.

Bait fishing is a very productive method of fishing in winter and simple rigs work best. Worms and artificial baits have always been a favourite way of winter fishing and it always brings results. When worm fishing, use plenty of tiger worms or a single scrub worm, and fish them off the bottom using a running sinker.

There is a lot of weed and slime on the bottom of the lake at the moment, especially in sheltered bays like Curiosity and Hatchery bays, so it is best to put mucilin on your line to keep it floating above the bottom.

You can also suspended a bait under a float and if you want to use artificial bait (most floats) try a little split shot on the hook to keep the bait down.

As the fish move about the lake so much over in winter, there is no particular spot better than another, but a hint is shallow water early and late and slightly deeper water in the bright sunny parts of the days, but not too deep, a few metres of water is as much as you want!

Spinning from the shore of the lake is another method that works well during winter and Tasmanian Devils are probably the best lures to use in the middle of the day. Colours like pink number 55, yellow wing number 36 and brown number 48 work best at a slow retrieve.

A variety of soft plastics also work well and the Strike Tiger plastics have proved to be fantastic on the Snowy Mountains trout. It’s best to use natural or gold colours when fishing plastics around the inlets and weedy bays and orange or pink colours are better for open water.

If you are fly fishing or spinning with lures you have to also be aware that you need to slow down your retrieve and leave the fly or lure in the fishes’ face longer.

Trolling is one of my favourite ways to catch trout in winter, because I can sit back, relax and wait for the fish to bite. If you’re out in a boat on the lake over winter, trolling lures a lot slower than summer is also the way to increase the number of trout you catch.

The best lures to use when trolling the lake for big trout in winter are the big jointed minnow lures, even as big as 13cm in various colours, however a touch or orange on the lure is a great attractant for trout in winter. If you like using Tasmanian Devil lures, the best colours have been pink 55, orange 57 and brown number Y48. Y82 and holographic are another couple of colours worth a try, but again, slow your trolling speed down for winter.

July is also the time when we get most of our snow on the mountains and the weather can change very quickly, so always check for any major changes before heading out in a boat. It only takes minutes for the lake to go from mirror flat to over 1m high waves and 100km/h winds.

Just remember that when on a boat all rugged up, sometimes with waders on, you are a death wish waiting to happen if you aren’t wearing a life vest. If you were to fall into the water, which is getting colder by the day, once you get wet – there is a very good chance that you will die. If not by drowning, when all your wet clothes drag you to the bottom or your waders fill with water, you will not last long before hyperthermia will get you.

Trolling flies off fly lines (harling) is also very productive in winter and trolling flies on lead core lines during the middle of the day produces some big browns if you stay just over the weed beds. We have some flies in the shop that are designed for trolling and can be dynamite over the weed beds on the lake.

Good areas for trolling this month are the South Arm, the Snowy Arm, East Jindabyne Islands and Hayshed Bay.

If you’re up for polaroiding trout, it is best done on the sunnier days and that is the time I like to fly fish the lake anyway. I don’t usually go fly fishing when it is snowing or during the cold winter nights.

A well-presented fly, something like a brown nymph, a Mrs Simpson or a shrimp pattern will get good results during the winter months. Don’t forget my Williamson’s Gold Fish when fishing the weedy bays. The best areas for winter polaroiding in Jindabyne are Creel Bay, Hatchery Bay, Sids Bay, the Kalkite end of the lake, the Snowy Arm and Wollondibby Inlet.

July and August are the months when the township of Jindabyne is flat out with snow skiers and most accommodation is either booked out or very expensive however since you don’t need to get out of bed early to catch a trout in winter, you can always stay in towns close by where there is accommodation at a reasonable rate.

Cooma, Berridale and Dalgety are towns that come to mind that have great accommodation at reasonable rates.

July roundup – the best of the best!

Best methodBait fishing
Best lake lureTasmanian Devil in pink 55 or Holographic. Rapala brown trout 13cm
Best lake areaClaypits and Banjo Patterson Park
Best fly methodWilliamson’s Gold Fish or a similar fly to represent the food the fish are feeding on
Best riverRivers are closed and reopen on October long weekend
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