Browns fire up for spawning
  |  First Published: May 2005

May is an interesting time in the Snowy Mountains – this is when the brown trout really get fired up in readiness for their spawning run.

Not all of the brown trout enter the river at the one time; some trout spawn early and some late. Usually every time that we get a major weather change, the fish will run into the river.

The best spawning runs occur when we get rain and the more rain we get and the faster the rivers flow, the better the run of fish. The biggest of the brown trout will mostly wait until the rivers are in flood and there is enough cover from the extra water flow.

The big trout like to run when they can do so safely, when they can’t be detected by predators.

So if we manage to get good rain in May, you can expect some great fishing in the rivers; no rain and it will be fishing as normal.

When fishing the rivers in May, remember that the trout may be spawning and so it is always nice if leave the best spawners to do their job in peace.

May is when the Thredbo river rules change to only one fish per day per angler and that fish must be over 50cm long. I think it is a silly rule but rules are rules and you must abide by them.

If May is dry, the browns will remain in the lake and will continue feeding but remember, not all browns run to the river at once and not all browns spawn every year anyway. Some may develop eggs but never find their way into the river.

While there are still brown trout feeding, in May we can often target some of the monster trout Jindabyne is renowned for.

Bait anglers will know that the best fishing is in May and early June when the water edges are cold enough and the fish come into the shallows to feed. Spin anglers also have good success due to the same reason.

The best trolling for the monster trophy fish is often just as a weather change hits. If anyone remembers the Rex Hunt TV show filmed up here last year, you will have noticed the weather was not good and most of the success came from trolling big minnows off downriggers at Creel Bay.

The browns will hang out at Creel Bay waiting for a rise in the river. If you don’t fish this area on the change in the weather you most likely will waste your time trying to catch fish that are shut down. You are better off fishing other areas of the lake where the trout are still feeding.

Anyhow, May can often be an exciting month in the mountains and it’s is well worth braving the cold weather and giving trout fishing a go.


This is one of the best months for the bait angler fishing the edges of the lake. Remember, bait is illegal in the streams and rivers.

One of the best baits are mudeyes suspended one to two metres under a bubble float at sunrise and sunset.

If you can’t get a mudeye, (they are hard to find at this time of year), worms are the next-best bet. Worms teamed with an artificial bait like PowerBait and fished off the bottom work well at the moment on Lake Jindabyne. I like orange or pink artificial baits in Autumn and Winter.

Bardi grubs are another cold-weather bait and the browns just love them. They will also float like some of the artificial baits and so they need a small running sinker to hold them down so the grub just floats about 25cm off the bottom.

Best areas to try over the next couple of months will be Waste Point, the Snowy Arm, Hatchery Bay, Hayshed Bay and of course Creel Bay for the early spawners .


Now that the water is cooling, the lake spinning will improve. Tasmanian Devil lures in green and gold colours such as numbers 6, 23 or 55, and brown colours such as number 48, the red-nosed brown bomber, will catch fish. When the water gets below 14° pink or orange lures will also work well.

Another good lure for the rivers before the spawners arrive is the Gillies Spina and red/gold is the fish’s favourite colour at this time of year. Unless we get rain the Thredbo river water level is normally low so small spinners are always best.

Minnow lures like Rapalas, Legends, StumpJumpers and C Lures are another way of fishing and when the big fish enter the river on the spawning run they are territorial and very aggressive. At this time, the bigger the minnow the better but only when the river level is high.

Use sinking or deeper-diving minnows when the river is high and stick to smaller lures when the water is low and clear.

On the lake good spinning areas to try are Creel Bay, Waste Point, The Snowy Arm and for fish still actively feeding try Curiosity Rocks, Wollondibby Inlet, Hatchery Bay and The Claypits area.


Lake trolling is interesting in Autumn because some days the fish will strike out of aggression and some days they will be feeding. Knowing what the weather is about to do will help.

Unlike in Summer, it is often possible to troll much later in the day and, depending on the water temperature, sometimes the fishing is good all day long.

This month I quite often change to pink or orange lures which seem to work best on the aggressive spawning fish. Tasmanian Devils in colours 55 (pink) or 56 (orange) are good lures to try for non-feeding fish.

Try numbers 36, 50 and 48 if the fish are feeding actively. These colours will still catch plenty of rainbows and salmon at this time of year.

Even in May the day will often warm up and the fish will go deeper. Lead-core lines and Downriggers will still be very useful over the coming month. Remember, in last year’s Rex Hunt show most of the bigger fish were caught off downriggers!

Duel-Depth Tasmanian Devils rigged through the side hole to troll deeper to four metres will also help during he middle of the day but make sure you don’t troll too fast when this lure is rigged in the deep hole.

Lion and Cub Islands always fish well in Autumn for rainbow trout and as the brown trout move to the end of the lake ready to spawn, Creel Bay and the Snowy Arm are well worth trying.


The streams and rivers will still have good days, even this late in the season. You will possibly still even find fish that will take a well-presented dry fly.

As the rain comes and the trout move into the Thredbo River, anglers will chase big trophy fish and fly anglers will have the best success using Glo-bugs and nymphs. Black and brown nymphs in about size 10 or 12 are good. Make sure you have some weighted flies for when the river is flowing hard because you need to get the fly down to the fish.

Lake Jindabyne will fish better this month as the edge water cools down. Water temperatures have a big effect on how close to shore the fish come but the air is cooler now and the fishing is much better and will continue to improve as the water cools even further.

Flies to try over the coming months will include purple or black Woolly Buggers and Mrs Simpsons. Don’t forget the Williamson’s Gold Fish around the creek inlets during the late evenings.

Last season’s trolling clinics with guest speaker Bill Presslor were all booked out early. With the success of the segment on Jindabyne trolling that I hosted on the new fishing DVD by John Haenke, I will be spending more time on downrigging in future clinics.

Those interested in the trolling clinic on October 22 and 23 had better register as soon as possible. Bill Presslor will join me for the weekend at Snowline Holiday Park and the cost is $360. Mention that you read about the clinic in Fishing Monthly when you book and you will receive a sponsors’ gift pack valued at over $100.

The popular Snowy Mountains fly fishing weekend will be held on October 29 and 30 – book early. For the latest daily reports, call into my shop at the Snowline Holiday Park or call 02 6456 1551. For tour bookings call 0408 024 436 or email --e-mail address hidden--

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