Hopping into a cooler fishing season
  |  First Published: December 2016

As reported last month, it took some time for the cooler weather to disappear last year, and in fact, we went straight from winter into summer. Last years cooler weather kept the water in Lake Jindabyne much cooler this year than in previous years.

Trout are cold blooded and so love colder water, this means that for lake fishing in January, we will have extended fishing periods. Normally what happens in summer, is once the water temperature reaches above 18°, the lake trout only feed around the edges of the lake at sunrise and sunset, when the insect activity is at its peak. During the day the trout retreat to cooler deeper water, making it harder for shore based anglers to catch them. Boat anglers have to fish deep, sometime deeper than 10m to get the best fishing.

What will happen with the last couple of months of summer this year is that with the cooler water temperatures and higher lake level will cause the fish to be more likely to stay closer to the edges, making for a wider window for anglers to catch them. On the rivers and streams the trout have been waiting very eagerly for a feed – and with only a few more months before the cooler weather settles in again, they’re going to take every opportunity to grab something to eat. This of course means that with plenty of water still running off the mountains, with the last of the snowmelt from last winter, and overflowing springs. With the cooler, more comfortable conditions, the river trout will also be feeding longer – this will lead to some of the best trout fishing in many years.

January is ‘hopper season’ for fly anglers, and there are various grasshopper patterns available – just have a look around and see what the size and colour the real ones are, and find a fly to match. In the early stages of hopper development we like to use smaller patterns, and even flies like a yellow humpy will imitate the local hoppers. But as the hopper develops wings and the Snowy Mountains hopper pattern, or a larger yellow ‘stimulator’ are a couple of flies you should have in your box. Also keep your eye open for evening hatches of other insects, such as the mayfly. I love the dry fly fishing at this time of year, and again with later seasons. There are now plenty of insects about for trout to eat.

If you are a lake fly angler, nights are the best time to fish the lake. Bigger dark or black flies like a Woolly Bugger, or other dark streamer patterns are good flies to try. Craig’s Night-time is also another Snowy Mountains favourite, not to forget my own Snowy Mountains goldfish, where fishing the bays and the inlets will be best places to get results. This years river spinning is much better than last’s, because the water levels are a little higher and there have been some good trout caught – if you are prepared to walk a little further away from the holiday crowds, find some deep pools or some deeper running water where the fish may lay under cover.

Small minnow style lures like CD Rapalas work very well, as do the old favourites, green and gold Celtas and Gillies spinners like the feather tails – I also love the Vibrax spinners and there are some glow in the dark colours in this range that are great for fishing in the late evening. Change lures often and never work one area of water over any more than a half a dozen casts. Lake spin anglers will also do best in the first hour or so of light, and again, I like to spin with lures the same as the trollers, however, in smaller versions. Other lures that have been proving themselves very effective on the trout, are the Bullet lures, with an excellent colour range that also look a lot like the goldfish – as well as the little trout fingerlings that have recently been released into the lake from the Gaden Trout Hatchery.

Trolling lures from a boat may be a little different this year. Last year we were trolling very deep in the middle of the day to catch trout, up to 70 feet in fact, but this season, with cooler water, I would expect no more than 35 feet will be all you will need for lunch time fishing. When trolling from a boat in January, we start the day off by surface trolling lures like Tasmanian Devils in green colours, like the number 111 Willy’s Special, or my special red nosed yellowing is also great when the sun starts to get higher in the sky. On the overcast days the Holographic and number 48 Brown Bomber or other darker lures will be best. Other lures I would recommend over the coming month for trolling would be Stumpjumpers in greens and golds, Gillies Natural Vibes and 5cm Bullet lures in goldfish colours – these will always attract a trout when they are lazy.

Best areas to fish have been Hayshed, Hatchery and Rushes Bay and the South Arm into Stinky Bay. Later in the morning, the best fishing will be deep, using either lead core lines, paravanes and trolling sinkers etc., but the best way to achieve results is to use a downrigger, so you know exactly what level you are fishing. At the moment the depth continues to vary from 35ft early in the morning to 45ft later in the morning. Bait fishing in summer is Mudeye time. The mudeye is the nymph of the dragonfly, and anglers use them as live bait, hooking them through the wing case to allow them to swim around beneath a float. Early and late in the day is the best times to fish the bays, and moving to deeper water as the day brightens up.

The cooler weather this year has made it hard, however, to find mudeyes – so if that is the case, you can’t go past a local scrub worm fished off the bottom. Scrub worms are going to catch that big brown trout that you have always wanted to catch, and are best fished unweighted – yes a big worm cast out without a sinker. The shallow bays are the best night time fishing locations; however look out for the snags. If you want to bait fish in the middle of the day, then you are best to look at bottom fishing, using either a scrub worm or one of the artificial baits.

The secret at the moment to catching trout on bait, is to grease up the line – to stop the drag on the water, and to stop it floating to the bottom into the weed and getting caught up. You need a trout to run with the bait without feeling any resistance and greasing the line will help catch more fish. Always fish with the reel bail arm open, so the fish can run with the line. The best line grease is Silicone Mucilin, as it will not harm the line.

• If you’re down in the mountains this month, drop in and say hi at my shop, at 6532 Kosciuszko Road Jindabyne, where you will find me next to the Shell Servo and you can also book a tour with me while you are there. For the latest fishing conditions please give my shop a call on 0264 561 551 or email me at --e-mail address hidden-- and don’t forget to have a look at my web site www.swtroutfishing.com.au. Until next month, hope you catch the big one.

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