Living in Canberra, there are three attractive options for fishing this time of the year. You can head to the coast and chase the enigmatic bluefin tuna migrating through our most accessible waters. Try Burrinjuck Reservoir for a native or redfin. Or if you want to take a punt on the weather, you can visit the Snowy Mountain lakes and try for a prime brown or rainbow trout.
Chasing bluefin requires a big boat, lots of petrol money and favourable weather, all in short supply at the best of times. Burrinjuck offers a cheap, easier alternative and is well worth a try for cod, golden perch and redfin. Most people are opting for a trip to Eucumbene or Jindabyne, because many of the brown trout have finished their spawn up the rivers, and are back in the lakes chasing food hungrily. Add those to the hungry resident rainbows and you have a heady mix of trout to fish for on lure, bait or fly.
Mountain weather is the big controlling factor. There’s a layer of deep snow over the Main Range, and an intermittent cover of snow on the foreshores of Eucumbene and Jindabyne. Some days you can expect the worst – hail, rain, sleet, cyclonic winds, bitter cold down to about –9°C, and heavy snowfalls that can stop you going to your favourite spot or send you home. The next day could be clear, bright and sunny, and a delight to be involved in. Without the wind, lakes become sparkling gems and the fish are obliging.
Beat the cold by dressing for it. Wherever you fish, the golden rule is dress appropriately. Dress badly, you’ll freeze your butt off and swear to never go fishing in the cold again.
You can toss in a bait of wood grubs, scrub worms or PowerBait and confidently expect a hook-up. Do the same with a fly and use small black or brown nymph. Use a red and black Matuka, Woolly Bugger or yabby pattern on floating, sink tip or sinking line fished with a slow retrieve.
If you’re a lure fan, Tasmanian Devils fished off the bank, Rapala Spotted Dogs or StrikePro Minnows trolled at slow speed on two or three colours of lead core line should give you good chances.
One of the more pleasant ways to fish is to have a portable smoker ready for use nearby. As soon as you catch a fish, clean it, pop it in the smoker and light it up. In twenty minutes time, while you fish, you’ll have a delicious smoked fish. Paired with a glass of Riesling or Chardonnay, this is a feast to remember. All you need is a glass and fork to appreciate how pleasant life can be in the Snowies on a crisp day.
Burrinjuck is nearly 70% full after steady rain in the catchment, and fishing well. Cod are being caught daily, including a 105cm fish taken on a large lure cast at the aptly named Billys Delight Bay. Others in the 55-76cm range have been taken on trolled deep divers and spinnerbaits. Surface lures have worked well in some of the quieter bays, especially during lowlight periods at dawn, dusk and night.
Golden perch up to 45cm have been taken on the troll, and larger fish at 58cm on yabbies and scrub worms. Favoured locations have been steep rock faces and flooded trees in 15-20m of water. Redfin have been relatively easy to find with scrub worms fished from the shore. Most are little fellows, but an occasional larger specimen around 40cm can brighten up the day.
Surface lures work well for cod in Burrinjuck, especially during lowlight conditions at dawn, dusk or night.
Golden perch slow down in wintertime, but can be taken on lure and bait in locations such as steep rock faces and flooded trees.
Brown trout return from spawning hungry, and feed strongly to back on condition. There’s good sport with the resident rainbows.
Redfin stay active during this season. Larger specimens brighten up the day, when bait fishing from the shore at Burrinjuck Reservoir.Reads: 82