Plenty of good news on Monaro
  |  First Published: May 2017

We’ve had lots of good news recently. Firstly we have had rain. It was getting overdue in some areas, then finally arrived in sufficient quantity to rejuvenate streams throughout the region and put a bit of water back in the lakes.

Flushing the streams removes accumulated debris and mats of algae and generally refreshes the waterway. It also washes in lots of organic matter, which bacteria attempt to break down. The initial flush of bacterial growth and preferential uptake of oxygen might leave the fish short on oxygen temporarily, but this soon redresses itself and the fish benefit overall because the rainwater contains a lot of oxygen and also beneficial nitrogen. The rain also triggers a lot of insect activity and washes a lot of food items into the streams, and the fish benefit accordingly.

The lakes also benefit directly from the rain. It boosts oxygen and nitrogen levels and washes in a lot of food from the surrounding landscape. Fish are attracted to the food in the shallows and are thus more accessible to bait, lure and fly anglers. Flooding of new ground as water levels rise also brings fish closer to shore. Fish particularly gather around small waterways draining into the lake, because that’s where most of the food comes in.

Rain is welcomed and the news is nearly all good. The downside? Anglers get bogged going into places where they shouldn’t be, churning up the moistened landscape and generally showing disregard for the integrity of fragile and supposedly protected areas. That’s where the second lot of good news comes in.

New Car Park

Every year when the run of pre-spawning browns gets underway in the Eucumbene River, large numbers of anglers gather in the hope of catching a trophy fish. Most of them do the right thing, but an objectionable number insist on trying to get to more and more remote locations, further churning up the landscape, disturbing the river bed and blocking other anglers from accessing the river banks and the river itself.

That’s about to stop. Thanks to angling activist and President of the Monaro Acclimatisation Society Steve Samuels and his colleagues, a car park is to be established at Denison near the Eucumbene River. All vehicles will have to park there. That should put a stop to the damaging and antisocial behaviour of the yobbo brigade and anglers will have only a short walk to get to the river. It’s the best news we’ve had for ages.

Browns On The Move

To add to that good news, reports are coming in daily of small to medium-sized browns moving into the Eucumbene River and possibly the Thredbo River. The numbers are small as yet, but increasing. If we get a few more rainstorms, the major movement of fish, including the larger specimens, should get underway.

At the moment the fish are taking a variety of flies, including Glo Bugs, weighted nymphs, Woolly Buggers, elk hair caddis and dry Snowy Mountain grasshoppers. Soon they’ll probably revert to mostly Glo Bugs and nymphs. Rigs consisting of these two flies with split shot will be used by the majority of fly and lure anglers in coming weeks until the season closes on the Queen’s Birthday weekend in June.

Remember to do the right thing with prespawning fish. Photograph them as your trophy then let them go on their way. After all, they are your future if you intend to continue as a trout fisher.

Local Lakes

Canberra’s local lakes have been very quiet, with virtually no Murray cod showing up and just an occasional golden perch caught on yabbies, scrub worms or blades. Anglers are wondering whether it’s just a seasonal thing or whether the phenomenal catches earlier in the season have taken their toll. It doesn’t take much brain power to realise that in an artificially stocked lake there are only a certain number of fish available. If you keep every fish you catch soon there won’t be any left.

Thankfully, redfin remain active and provide an opportunity for some fun and a feed if they are big enough. They are taking scrub worms and a wide variety of lures and soft plastics in all of the local lakes. Alternatively, you could try your hand for an outsized carp in one of the local lakes. We’ve got plenty of the mongrels in the national capital and we are more than happy to see a few get caught and despatched to carp heaven.

Googong Wonderland

The exception to all of this is Googong Reservoir, where fishing has been good, especially for boat anglers. There have been plenty of big redfin with many around 44cm, nice fat golden perch and some Murray cod either side of a metre. Fish have been taken on scrub worms and yabbies and a variety of lures, especially soft plastics for redfin, Burrinjuck Specials and Mask Vibes for goldens and extra large spinnerbaits, deep divers and surface lures for cod. The lake is full, the water is clear and there are no carp. Fishing is highly recommended at the moment.

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