A season of all the wrong records
  |  First Published: June 2006

With the river trout season coming to a close on the Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend, we can look back on what was a very interesting season.

An unusually hot Summer and very little rain over the past few months has meant the rivers are still a little low and anglers are still waiting for the first real run of spawning browns.

The Snowy Mountains have had the longest, hottest Summer in history. The April average was a massive 3° above normal and has broken all records. January was 2° above average and another record. Rain was also low but not the lowest on record.

In early April we had about 10cm of snow in the mountains but that was short-lived, at least adding a little extra water in the rivers and a few more trout entered them.

By the time you read this report it just may be all happing because it takes only a day of rain to get the fish into the rivers and on the bite. But don’t hold your breath because there isn’t too much time before it all ends and the rivers close.

Jindabyne is getting very busy with skiers and most anglers are now hanging up their trout rods for a few months but from now is when the lake fishing just gets better and better. Even if the levels are low, it still will be a great lake fishing season.

The lake fish have to work hard during the Winter to get a feed and that is the time when you can catch them off-guard. A fly or bait will catch you a big one but there are also some good fish to be caught spinning and trolling. The record-size brown trout come mostly by trolling lures on those perfect sunny Winter days.


Trolling is boring for some but I cannot think of a better way to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the snow capped mountains, especially if you have just had a hard morning on the ski slopes.

The best lures to use when trolling the lake for big Winter trout are large minnows like the Huey’s Spotted Dog or nice big Rapalas. I have been doing well on the black and gold jointed Rebel minnow over recent weeks.

Tasmanian Devil lures in pink 55, orange 57 and brown 48 are also Winter favourites and are probably the best lures when you are just after a few rainbows for sport or a feed. Rainbows always put up a better fight than browns and with the cooler water, this month is when the fish fight best.

Trolling minnow lures on three colours of lead-core line over weed beds in shallow, protected bays will often result in a strike from a big fish, almost stopping the boat. You just have to be lucky enough to hang onto the rod at the time of the strike. I have lost count of the number of anglers who lose big fish because they think they are snagged!

Good areas for trolling this month are Creel Bay, the Snowy Arm, Hayshed Bay and Hatchery Bay.

We still have a couple of weeks’ fly fishing and while most anglers are targeting the big browns in the Thredbo River, I prefer to hit the smaller streams for one last go at the dry fly. I find that black cricket patterns are good at this time of year but when the fish are on the bite they are not too fussy.


When fly fishing the lake in June, it is best to use polarised glasses to spot the fish moving around the edges of the lake. This year we may see some early polaroiding as the lake level drops for more work on the new dam spillway. Most of the work will be over shortly but the completion date is December.

Polaroiding trout is best done on the sunnier days and that is the time I like to fly-fish the lake, anyway. I never have gone much on fly fishing when it is snowing or during the cold Winter nights.

Something like a Brown Nymph, a Mrs Simpson or a shrimp pattern will get good results during the Winter. Don’t forget my Williamson’s Gold Fish in the quiet, weedy bays. Remember what I said in an earlier report about the big fish feeding on Jindabyne goldfish!

The best areas for Winter polaroiding are Creel Bay, Hatchery Bay, Sid’s Bay and the Kalkite end of the lake.

Spinning from the shore works well during Winter and you often see people throwing lures after a hard day in the ski fields. Tasmanian Devils are probably the best in colours like pink 55, yellow wing 36 and brown 48 work best at a slow retrieve. Good areas to try the Snowy Arm and Creel Bay, while and Wollondibby Inlet is excellent after rain.

Fishing with worms has always been a favourite winter method although it can get cold waiting for the fish to bite. When worm fishing, use plenty of tiger worms or a single scrub worm fished off the bottom using a running sinker.

Lemon Twist and Fluoro Orange PowerBait has been catching a lot of good trout over the past couple of months and Corn Nuggets usually work very well over Winter and a jar of each in the tackle box is highly recommended. Bardi grubs are great for big browns that haven’t gone to spawn yet. Good areas to use bait are Creel Bay, Hatchery Bay and Taylors Bay.

Call in to my shop at the Snowline Centre for the latest info or call me on 0408 024 436 for a charter for a big Winter trout. By now rumours will be flying about as to how my business is moving down to Pambula and Merimbula but that is not totally true. With the Snowline Holiday Park being purchased by the Beston Group, which has also acquired the Holiday Hub Beach Resort at Pambula, I will be doing more instruction and guiding in the Merimbula/Pambula area.

I also may hold a fly-fishing school down there in late August or September so I would be interested in your comments if a coastal fly fishing school would interest you. I think Winter is the time to learn how to fish so you can put what you have learnt into practice during Summer.

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