FOR THE COMING MONTH or so all I can see is good news. The warm weather will keep golden perch, Murray cod and redfin on the bite, and there will be plenty of carp if you prefer swampy bashing.
If we get rain the water levels in the dams and rivers will stay up. Local trout streams look dreadful because of the burnt landscape and massive siltation, but all have been restocked with browns and rainbows and if we keep our fingers and everything else crossed, we may get some catchable fish in return.
Lake Jindabyne is up and should fish well. Eucumbene is down but not out and the bank fishing is good. The bass scene is alive and kicking and offers great opportunities for lure and fly anglers.
Some of the stories we get from anglers each month are so wacky it takes a lot of experience to separate fun from reality, but angler Gus is convinced something funny is going on in Jindabyne.
A club manager from Canberra, Gus is a Lake Jindabyne regular. He has fished it for many years, going there at least a couple of times a month and has the place pretty well wired. He catches a lot of fish, mostly on Tasmanian Devils but occasionally on other lures which I suggest from time to time.
Recently, however, he encountered a new phenomenon – something appears to be biting off his Tassie Devils. This is not just normal line breakage. Gus knows when he has pushed a fish too hard and it breaks off. This is a screaming great run, then the line is bitten off. I've examined the gear and I agree with him, they are bite-offs, not break-offs..
Gus always ties his line direct to the treble on his Tasmanian Devils and the severed line clearly shows scratching and severing bite marks. So what can the villain be?
The resident fish in the reservoir, brook, brown and rainbow trout, don’t have much in the way of teeth and don't usually bite lures off. Other toothy critters, such as tortoises and water rats, are unlikely to be able to grab a moving lure. That leaves only one possibility, eels, and even for them, snatching a moving lure must be hard.
Eels are not all that uncommon in Jindabyne. They were retained there, and in Lake Eucumbene, when the lakes were formed around 1969 and 1959 respectively by damming the eastern-flowing Snowy and Eucumbene rivers. Eels from Eucumbene also have since migrated to Lake Tantangara through the tunnel from Providence and have gone down the previously eel-free Murrumbidgee River.
Mostly they are caught on bait but occasionally one will take a fly or a lure. I remember John Marsh in the late 1960s hooking a monster on a black and red Matuka in Eucumbene which flabbergasted him by then swimming down a flooded rabbit burrow. When he pulled it out he thought it was a huge snake and, in his haste to put distance between him and the critter, dropped his pressure lantern, which disintegrated, adding to the hilarity of the evening.
About the same time, then NSW Fisheries director Don Francois hooked an eel on a lure in Burrinjuck.
So they do take lures, but I have always thought of it as a fluke rather than anything else. Why they have singled Gus out on several occasions is a mystery. Perhaps other anglers, however, have hooked them and not realised that the screaming great run followed by a break-off really was an eel and not the brown of all time. Let me know if you have had that experience.
The community-based Far South Coast Bass Stocking Association and NSW Fisheries are combining well to stock Brogo Reservoir with bass. The association raises money to buy fingerlings and Fisheries matches the funds with fish to a similar or higher value. Many people like myself chuck in a few bob each year and have a continuing interest in the program.
The main fund-raiser is the annual Brogo Bass Bash, in which 80 invited anglers do their best to catch and release the most or largest bass on fly or lure during a weekend, with Fisheries assisting. The atmosphere is wonderful – caring, thinking anglers with the future of bass stocking the only thing on their minds. There’s no strutting, no posing, no competing for sheep stations. What a contrast to some of the other tournaments we have seen along the coast in recent times.
We have a problem, however, in that many of the stocked fish appear to be migrating downstream during floods. This is not a new problem. It happens to a lot of fisheries but it negates the whole idea of building up a stocked impoundment with perhaps trophy sized fish. I've been up to Tinaroo Falls Dam in North Queensland to see how the locals deal with a similar problem, restricting downstream barramundi migration with a temporarily located barrier net, and that may be of some use at Brogo. If you have any other ideas, I would be glad to hear from you.
Anglers fishing the urban lakes in Canberra are wondering if sometimes they are using the wrong bait for Murray cod. One angler trying for a carp in Lake Tuggeranong with a piece of sweet corn landed instead a good-sized Murray cod. On the same weekend at the Canberra Classic, a coarse fishing championship fished on Lake Burley Griffin, Sydney angler Ron Waites landed a nice cod on sweet corn on a tiny hook and another competitor was surprised when a big cod swiped his feeder full of corn.
Apart from that, the lakes have fished reasonably well with lures for golden perch and cod when the water is clear enough and yabbies and scrub worms the rest of the time. Googong is still dead low but has fished reasonably well from the banks or from the occasional small tinny or inflatable that can be carried down the steep banks.
There have been some real monsters to challenge those who like carp. The best I have weighed recently went 7.6kg but anglers have reported others over 13kg. Redfin also have been surprising, with some over 2kg – large for our part of the world.
Burrinjuck has been filling nicely, just in time for the downstream irrigators to take their disproportionately large share of this precious community resource. There have been some good catches of golden perch and occasional cod on shrimps, yabbies and scrub worms upstream and on lures in the Main Basin where the water has cleared.
‘Sawdust’, the massive rafts of fine debris resulting from last year's bushfires, has posed a new problem in the lake. It can easily clog up a motor and the owner of a very expensive boat launched at the Main Basin recently blew his motor by charging through the debris, mostly located close to shore, instead of paddling out through it before blasting off.
Just watch out for eels and their new party tricks.
It weighed 7.6 kg and was caught on sweet corn.Reads: 1963