Rivers finally fire up
  |  First Published: December 2004

The trout season has been good in the Snowy Mountains lakes but we did have to wait until nearly Christmas before the rivers fished really well. The weather was just so cold and wet until early December.

The snow and rain in November and cooler conditions slowed the fishing a little. No insects until mid-December meant that there was very little dry-fly action, but with good rain and subsequent run-off we will have fantastic river fishing over coming months.

Lake Jindabyne’s water level is more ‘normal’ after last January’s very high mark and last Winter’s very low level. The present conditions are good for land-based anglers and I am sure that holidaymakers are going to have some great fishing.


Lake Eucumbene recently claimed the lives of two very experienced anglers from Sydney and the Central Coast. These guys knew the lake well and had fished it for many years.

On the day, there were gale-force winds on Lake Jindabyne and Lake Eucumbene and the waves were huge. I was out on lake Jindabyne but my six-metre Marlin Broadbill cat is built for these conditions and I felt very safe. Who knows why these guys went out in those conditions, but they must have known things were to deteriorate through the day.

They didn’t make it back. Their boat was well equipped, so we can only guess at what happened. The boat had not been found as I write this.

I again must emphasise that the Snowy lakes are very dangerous and can go from mirror-calm to two-metre waves in less than 60 seconds. Always check the weather before going out. Most people are on holidays and don’t seem to take note of the daily news. That’s why these accidents happen.

I recently rescued three anglers from a 3.7-metre tinny on Lake Jindabyne. They had been drinking heavily and one angler stood up to ‘take a leak’ and the boat capsized. If I hadn’t reached them when I did, they could have also died of hypothermia. It was getting dark and very cold.

This rescue ruined a good night at home with my family and the worst part was that I never got any thanks from those I rescued, nor reimbursement for the fuel used during the rescue.

Local rescue services are very inadequate on both our major Snowy lakes and there will be more deaths unless something is done to improve them. Neither lake has a permanently moored rescue boat that can get to an accident quickly.

Onto the fishing predictions and with lake levels high and rivers in great condition, let’s look at what you can expect for the coming weeks.


With the warmer weather, the best way to troll up a trout has been by surface fishing Tasmanian Devil lures in gold and green early in the morning. Fish the shallow bays early and then move out to deeper water and fish lead-core line at three to four colours or use downriggers at six metres. Darker lures work better when fishing deep, so try Tassie numbers 6, 48 or Halo.

Hayshed, Hatchery and Rushes bays have been best producers.

This is also a downrigging month on Lake Jindabyne and trolling lures about 10 metres down will result in fish right through the middle of the day, even in the hottest conditions.

My RV Marine underwater video camera has been a useful tool to check out the right speed for trout when downrigging. The camera has proven that trout are very curious and will come and look at lures but then just swim away. You need a lure that has an erratic action or you need to vary your speed for best results.

The best lures for downrigging at the moment are Tasmanian Devils No 36 and No 48 but always keep a brown trout pattern minnow lure handy for big browns.


Mid-Summer is best for early and late spinning on the lake and the middle of the day is best for the rivers, as the lake fish go deep. I like to get up well before sunrise and fish the shallow inlets the big brown trout enter during the night. By targeting these larger fish and keeping them, the average size of the rest of the fish in the lake is increased.

Most lake fly anglers fish only during the nights because they know that is when the big fish come into feed. Smaller spinners are the best during in this period because there’ less splash to scare the trout.

Some new lures worth trying are the Gillies Bendbacks and Wobblers in rainbow trout and brown trout patterns.


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 are the best times to send drift a mudeye, again fishing the bays early and moving to deeper water as the day brightens.

Artificial baits will again work well, especially for rainbow trout. Berkley PowerBait in Orange Twist and Rainbow Nuggets will be worth a try. Team the PowerBait with a few small worms for brown trout and Atlantic salmon. The new Majic Morsels artificial bait is also catching some excellent fish.


This is grasshopper month on the rivers and streams in the mountains and when a grasshopper drops into the water, a trout will not hesitate to take it. There are various grasshopper fly patterns but just have a look around and see what the size and colour the real ones are and find a fly to match.

Also keep an eye open for evening hatches of other insects, such as mayflies.

For lake anglers, fish the lake at night. Dark or black flies like a Woolly Bugger or a Black Phantom are good patterns, as are Craig’s Night-time and my own Snowy Mountains Goldfish. Fish the bays and the inlets for the best results.

Those who have called at my shop recently will have noticed a huge expansion of stock after my takeover of the Snowline Tourist Park’s tackle shop. We have placed some terminal tackle in the caravan park office for after-hours sales but all major stock is at Steve Williamson’s Trout Fishing, next to the Shell service station. Our shop is also handling all boating supplies and outboard motor parts can be ordered and delivered the next day.

Special guest instructor at my trolling clinic on February 19 and 20 will be Bill Presslor and we have stock of his new AFN book on trolling. As usual, if you mention on the booking sheet that you read about the course in NSWFM, you will receive a very generous sponsors’ gift pack. Call me on 0408 024 436 or email me. Check out my revamped website at [url=http://www.fishnet.com.au/snowyfish].

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