Late hope for streams
  |  First Published: October 2006

The opening of the river trout season received a bit of a reprieve last month with some decent but late falls of snow but will they be enough to save the seasons ahead? We’ll have to wait and see.

The trout struggled this year with their spawning run, the lack of snow and rain leaving the rivers low for the spawn run and there was no flood to really get the bigger fish into the rivers. I remember one day up in Wollondibby Inlet watching trout struggle to make headway up an almost non-existent creek.

I’m not saying that the trout didn’t run and spawn into the bigger rivers, there were plenty of fish in the Thredbo, but just how successful they were in spawning we will never really know.

Gaden Trout Hatchery has reported another successful run with enough fish for their stripping program. This year again we will see at least another half a million trout and salmon released into Lake Jindabyne and surrounding waters. That’s at least positive and again, full credit to Gaden for an excellent job.

Spring this year will be very interesting for anglers fishing Lake Jindabyne. With a much warmer winter and higher water temperatures, combined with a low inflow of water into the lake as a result of little snowmelt, I expect that the water temperatures will rise quickly.

The better surface fishing will be from now until mid-November but after that we might see the fish moving into deeper water. That will also mean that the better bait and spin fishing on the lake will be early Spring to early Summer. The surface trolling will be the same with a very big possibility of a fantastic downrigging season again.

The river fishing will also be best in Spring to early Summer with a grave possibility that the water temperatures will be very high and levels low by the end of Summer. The only thing that will save that will be rain, rain and more rain!

I guess what I am saying is that if you fish any other method than trolling with downriggers, you had better get your fishing in before the end of January. Again, just pray for rain!


I expect the good trolling action to continue for some time. The usual techniques of fishing on the surface in shallow water at first light and then moving into deeper water with 20m to 30m of lead-core line out will extend the fun well into late morning.

The best lure to use early will be small brown trout and rainbow trout patterns in minnows like Rapalas, Min Mins and Rebel Crickhoppers to name a few. Troll these little lures on very light line and keep them 40m away from the boat. Fishing these over the weed beds in shallow water will get some big brown trout if you’re lucky.

If you just want a feed of rainbows you might be best to troll Tasmanian Devils close to the edges but not as close as if you were targeting browns. Weaving the boat will put a little variation in the action of he lures and result in more hook-ups. Use darker lures early like the No 48 red nosed brown bomber, then try the yellow wing version as the sun is about to rise. After the sun hits the water, change to a No 36 or Y82 yellow wing and as the sun gets higher, get the lure lower into the water.

Some days you may need a downrigger and get the lures down to at least 10m. There are still plenty of those monster ex-brood Atlantic salmon in the lake and October is the time to catch one.


It has been a great season for spinning the lake edges of Jindabyne. Early and late in the day have been the best times. Deeper drop-offs have been best, allow the lures to sink a little before retrieving to get to the deeper fish. Jointed Rapalas and Rebels have caught more trout, possibly because of the better tail action. Huey’s Spotted Dogs, hand-made lures from Tasmania, have been very successful.

Some of the Berkley Gulp patterns are catching trout when you retrieve them like a lure.

The Thredbo River still has plenty of late-spawning rainbows which are a lot easier to catch early in the day. The water has been mostly low and only time will tell how long it continues to fish well. Red and Gold Celtas and a variety of minnow lures are catching their fair share.


Lake bait fishing has been excellent for months and at some time of the day the fish are coming on the bite and you just need a line in the water to catch them.

Worms are best for brown trout while Berkley PowerBait is best for rainbows and salmon. The PowerBait 1” Nymph, fished like a mudeye, is working well but the trick is to keep it moving slightly, sort of jigging it a little to give it life.

This year it is going to be even harder to get live bait and you may find that if tackle stores do have mudeyes and bardi grubs you are going to be paying top dollar. Live baits are getting harder to get as the drought continues so thank God we have artificial baits to fall back on.


We are going to be in for an interesting fly season. I expect the lake to fish well until the water surface temperatures rise too high. There are plenty of shrimp and rainbow trout are feeding on water fleas (Daphnia). As we get a few more insects hatching we may get some good early morning rises on the lake.

The best flies have been small shrimp patterns and olive nymphs fished slowly under an indicator. Spotting fish around the edges is possible at the moment but fish have been spooky so far.

On the streams the fishing has been good with brown and green nymphs best.

The Thredbo River is producing some fish on nymphs and Glo Bugs in the faster water and already there has been a little dry-fly fishing. Let’s hope regular rain freshens up the streams and cools the water.

My trolling clinic on October 14 and 15 features guest lecturer Bill Presslor and gives you a chance to bring your boat along for assessment. The first day is mostly classroom instruction while the second is all on the water. We’ll present some of the latest tackle including the award-winning Shark downrigging bomb and my Strike Vision underwater camera. Cost is $380, call me to see if there are any places left.



Lake water levels are another issue of concern. Just how high will the lake rise this Summer? Probably not very much. While we do expect Jindabyne to be OK over Summer, Lake Eucumbene is a disaster and at present the only boat launching is at Adaminaby.

If the drought stays with us we can expect Eucumbene to go down anything up to another 6m, or minimum operational level (MOL). The trouble with the lake dropping so fast is that there is nothing anyone can do about laying a new ramp. Even clearing the Denison Street ramp is almost a daily chore.

The other problem they have to look at over at Eucumbene is that when and if the lake does go down to MOL, you have to ask when the lake will rise again? It could be years if we don’t get good snow and rain.

For Jindabyne the problem will be that after they have emptied Eucumbene, they will have to get water from somewhere else. If the Save the Snowy River people think that they are going to get more water down the Snowy from Jindabyne they had better think again! This is time of major drought and not the time for wasting water by putting it down the Snowy just for environmental flows.

While I’m all for saving the Snowy River, now is not the time to be worried about increasing the flows. We are in drought and this year we have very little snow so the river would have received very little water even if the dams didn’t exist.

It was interesting the other day to read an international report that the Murray Darling Basin is wasting water faster than it can be replenished by nature. This is a big problem and this practice can’t be sustained. What happens if the drought continues and all the Snowy Hydro lakes dry up – then where will the irrigators be?

It doesn’t matter just how much money the Federal Government throws at the irrigators to improve their practices, the wastage continues and the dam levels are falling. Adaminaby is just one Snowy Hydro town suffering from the downturn in tourism because of low lake levels. If anglers can’t launch their boats they will go elsewhere to fish.

While this year Lake Jindabyne may see an increase in boats and anglers due to better water levels, and this may be good for Jindabyne, what happens if Jindabyne has low lake levels next year? What will we do then? Go down to the coast and fish?

Currently Lake Jindabyne’s level is rising slightly and is fishing very well. Water temperatures are now approaching 10° and the fish are happy to feed on top early and late in the day.

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