Time for the big fish
  |  First Published: July 2003

While Winter has set in and the rivers are closed, it does not mean that we have to hang up our rods – this is when we catch all the big fish.

The spawning run for the brown trout started about mid-May and although the weather at that time was very mild and the water clear, fish still moved up into the Thredbo River. There were some excellent-sized fish caught and I would have to say that the brown trout population was once again in excellent condition this year.

Sorry to go back in time but I forgot to mention last issue that most of the ex-brood Atlantic salmon were released into Lake Jindabyne in May, rather than leave them until October, as in previous years. A lot of those monster fish are still out there swimming around, so there are a few surprises for Winter anglers this year.

Planning for the Snowy Mountains Trout Challenge, to be held on Jindabyne and Eucumbene from October 16 to 20, is in full swing. The main event, the Celebrity Trout Challenge, a trolling- and spinning-only, boat-based event, will bring together Australia’s best anglers with teams from four States competing for major prizes. While the celebrity event is invitation-only, there are places for volunteer ‘officials’ to help out over the three days, so if you want to get involved, give me a call.

The other big event, the Family Fishing Competition, to be held on the shores of Lake Jindabyne on October 19, is open to the public and should be a lot of fun. This family competition is open for lure casters and bait anglers. There will also be a display of the competitors’ boats on the Sunday morning which should be worthwhile checking out. For more information and a complete program of all the other events, email me at --e-mail address hidden--

Now back to the fishing conditions for July.

The fish have to work a little harder during the Winter to get a feed and they are often very hungry after their spawning run up the river. Bait, spin, fly and troll all work on a given day.

Bait-fishing with worms works best if you do not mind sitting back and waiting, and this method works any time of the day or night. Another Winter bait is the bardi grub, which can be purchased from local bait outlets frozen and then thawed when you need one. Since good-quality, fresh bardi grubs actually float, they are best held on the bottom using a running sinker.

Best areas to try this month will be Creel Bay, Hatchery Bay and the Kalkite end of the lake, which is often excellent during Winter.

Spinning from the lake shoreline with lures such as the Tasmanian Devil No 48 brown works best early in the morning and late afternoons. Try the No 55 pink during the day. Slower retrieves often will catch more fish in Winter.

Best spinning areas are Hatchery Bay, Waste Point and Rushes Bay at East Jindabyne. If you want shelter from the cold southerlies, try down at the dam wall.

Fly-fishing is better on the sunnier days when there is no wind. By walking the shoreline of the lake with the aid of polarised sunglasses, you can often see the fish cruising the shallows looking for a feed. A fly cast just in front of the fish is hard for it to resist if it’s hungry. I like small green to olive nymphs during Winter, rather than the usual larger lake flies.

Watch out for those monster Atlantic salmon cruising the banks this year. Best areas to try a little polaroiding are the rocky areas from Hayshed to Hatchery Bay and Waste Point

Probably the most productive way to catch fish in Winter is to troll a lure from a boat at slow speed. This method is productive because of the amount of water you cover. It can also be very relaxing sitting out in the boat enjoying the beautiful surroundings of the snow-covered mountain peaks on a warm sunny Winter’s day.

The best lures to troll are the Tasmanian Devils in No 55 hot pink, No 48 brown and 36 Yellow Wings. Over the past few weeks No 80 golden oldie has also been very successful in the Dual-Depth Devil. When trolling in Winter, I like to let out at least 40 metres of line, more on sunny days, and troll at a slightly faster speed than normal, even up to 4kmh. I like to have my reel drag setting loose to allow the fish to run when it strikes at the lure.

During sunnier days, another good lure to try is the brown trout Legend Lure – use the deeper diver for best results. Other pink minnows, such as the Rapala series, are also well worth a try for aggression strikes. Best trolling spots on the lake are the Snowy Arm, Kalkite Waters western bank and Rushes Bay.

If you need any help or advice, or would like to join me on one of our lake fishing trips, give me a call on 0408 024436.

• I’m offering a free fly rod to all readers of NSW Fishing Monthly who book and pay a deposit for our beginner fly-fishing school on November 1 and 2. The offer ends on October 1. For more information or to register, call me on 0408 024 436 or email me.



Dougie Ivanovic admires the beautifully marked brown trout he trolled up in Lake Jindabyne.

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