Canberra anglers Peter Ruffy and Matt McCann have used their long-term knowledge of the Snowy Mountain lakes to suddenly rediscover the rainbow trout everybody thought were missing from the lakes over the last 12 months.
You may recall reports of complaints from anglers that they had been unable to find rainbows in Jindabyne and Eucumbene in particular, and the ones that they did find were mostly too small to keep.
Undeterred, Peter and Matt fished Jindabyne for two days and landed 19 fish on the first day and six or eight during a short spell the following morning. Most of the fish were rainbows in the 38-40cm range, and all were in excellent condition. They also caught a few small to medium browns, lost a couple of big ones and landed numerous small Atlantic salmon. All the fish were caught on Tasmanian Devils and a battered, nondescript spoon that had seen better days.
How did they do it? Simple. They theorized that during hot weather, rainbows and other fish move to deeper water to escape the heat and bright sunlight, and to seek out the thermocline where they can most easily extract oxygen. The boys used a downrigger, with the bomb located at 13.7m where the sounder suggested there was a solid gathering of fish. They caught fish as soon as they trolled through that depth.
The pair found fish at various locations, with most of them coming from the area between Curiosity Rocks and Lion Island, almost within touching distance of the boat ramp. The fish that were kept all had masses of Daphnia and small goldfish in their stomachs, indicating that there is no shortage of food in the area.
So maybe the ‘missing’ rainbows aren’t missing at all. Maybe they are simply staying deep to make the best use of the food and oxygen supplies in the preferred thermocline, and ignoring the upper layers of water. So next time you go to fish the big lakes you might like to adopt Peter and Matt’s strategy and get down deep, either with a downrigger or lead core line. You never know what you might find.
While you are fishing the big lakes you might also like to catch a few yabbies. There are large numbers of them in the lakes, and despite the fact that it’s declared trout water you are legally allowed to use 5 x two-ring drop nets each, and can bring up to 200 yabbies home. That is even after you have gorged yourself on those caught and cooked while you were fishing.
I recently learned how to keep a large catch for future use by pickling. You just cook the yabbies, peel the tails and pack them in salt before putting them in the fridge for two hours. You then put them in a glass jar filled with white vinegar and preferred spices, and store them away until required. I can vouch for the success of the technique. I don’t know how long they last after pickling though, because ours always got eaten far too quickly.
There are still a few nice fish being caught in the Thredbo and Eucumbene rivers. You need to walk the riverbank, searching with polarised glasses until one or more fish are spotted. You then go through the fly box hoping to find something that gets their attention. At present, most success has been had with grasshopper patterns or with a brown nymph suspended under a sight fly such as a Hairwing Coachman.
The best fishing has been in the late afternoon, but when it gets dark you can switch over to lake fishing with big wets such as Hamills Killer, Mrs Simpson, Craigs Nightime and other mudeye patterns. These will appeal to the big browns that come to the surface to feed on mudeyes and other goodies in the cool night air.
Warm weather has kept Murray cod and golden perch active, although in extreme hot weather some of the fish go off the bite and settle down in deep water.
Cod have been taken on yabbies and shrimps, but more commonly on large lures such as Jackpot Spinnerbaits, Wave Riders, Owner Kong and Mazzy Vibs. Koolabung surface lures have also been effective. Goldens have been taken on Mask vibes, Burrinjuck Specials and Mazzy Vibs, as well as Gulp black grubs, yabbies, shrimps and scrub worms fished amongst fallen timber. The top end of the lake has been the most productive for golden perch, and the dam wall end for cod.
If anybody wants redfin to add to their catch, there are millions of them in Burrinjuck and elsewhere. Just chuck in a scrub worm, a soft plastic with a wriggly tail, or a shiny spinning blade lure such as a Hogback and you will get as many as you want. Not many of them are big but those that are go very nicely on the table.Reads: 400