Two anglers trying to do the right thing at Lake Eucumbene recently came unstuck and were lucky to escape serious injury.
They were travelling in their boat when one reached over to pick up an aluminium can floating in the water – nice to see somebody doing the right thing with somebody else's rubbish. Unfortunately the boat then overturned, tossing both occupants into the cold water.
They were in the water for about 10 minutes before managing to make it to shore, lucky to escape with just mild hypothermia which persisted for a day or two. Unfortunately they lost a lot of valuable fishing tackle, including top-of-the-range ABU reels and Live Fibre rods.
In an even more cruel blow they also lost all of the fish they had caught.
Other anglers at Eucumbene have fared better. There have been lots of good browns and rainbows on the move and the fish have been of good size and in superb condition.
The browns, after making an early pre-spawning rush for the Eucumbene River, fell back into the main body of the lake when the flow in the river was reduced to a trickle because of the lack of rain. Plenty of browns have been taken.
Each time it rains, should that ever happen again, a new batch will make a dash for the river and go on their way upstream to lay eggs and produce a new crop of fish for the future.
But they better get a move on because the rainbows are now getting toey and also looking at the same gravel locations to complete their own spawning rituals.
We need rain and we need it urgently if the fish are to complete their breeding season on schedule.
In the meantime. although the trout streams are closed until the October long weekend, anglers are enjoying the luxury of the best fishing seen for some years in lakes Eucumbene and Jindabyne on bait, lure and fly.
Reports each week have a delightful ring to them. One fishing club with 10 boats recently landed 126 fish for the weekend. The fish were a mix of browns and rainbows and were of good size and in splendid condition. I was delighted to hear that most were taken on one of my own inventions, the yellow-winged Canberra Killer Tasmanian Devil.
Col Lyons, with his sons Paddy and Jimmy, was typical of many anglers who fished around Anglers Reach at Eucumbene. They used lead-core line and Rapala Minnows, Rebel Crickhoppers and luminous pink Tasmanian Devils and caught so many fish they actually lost count. Col said they caught and released at least 15 trout although it might have been 18. That's good fishing!
There's always another side to it, however. Angler Anthony spent one of those frustrating days fishing from the bank near the Eucumbene dam wall using every lure he could think of. He was wearing his Spotters Penetrator polarised glasses and thus could see a long way into the water.
And all he saw, all day, was one big fish after another, following his lure right into the bank and then turning away and disappearing into the depths. He said he lost count at about 30 follows and now wonders if it would have been better to leave the glasses at home and not know how many big fish he had missed.
Eventually he settled for some bait fishing and raised one fish on a scrub worm and one on Power Bait.
Fly fishers have had some reasonable fishing. During the day there has been a bit of activity with caddis hatches, especially in Middlingbank and Rushy Plains Bay in Eucumbene and Hatchery Bay in Jindabyne.
The Royal Humpy, Hairwing Coachman and Tups Indispensable have accounted for a few fish. At night, those who can stand the intensely cold weather will fare better with large wets such as a Fuzzy Wuzzy, Mrs Simpson, Craig’s Nighttime and Hamill’s Killer.
In Jindabyne there have been some interesting fishing in various locations. Anglers with a good sense of interpretation are locating masses of daphnia, or water fleas, with their sounders and then targeting the inevitable rainbows lurking nearby. This looks to be an interesting new technique which I will be testing out next month using the Garmin and Navman sounders typical of those that many anglers use.
Anglers at Jindabyne also are still having fun trolling oversized barramundi and Murray cod lures, tempting some of the giant browns that reside in the deeper water.
An angler also has reported an interesting problem with PowerBait, which is now one of the most popular and effective baits for trout fishing in the region. While fishing in Stinky Bay at Jindabyne he was plagued with hordes of goldfish which nibbled away at his PowerBait, leaving nothing for the trout. He was finally forced to move to another location, Kalkite, where there were no goldfish and where he bagged out on nice rainbows. This is the first record I have had of goldfish eating PowerBait.
In Canberra's urban lakes the native fish have gone quiet but redfin have remained active and have provided a lot of fun and a feed for many anglers. We haven't had the usual annual onslaught of the EHN virus, which traditionally kills off a lot of the redfin, so there have been a lot more fish around than usual.
The fish also have grown to much larger size than normal and because of the drought, the water has been clearer and more suited to lure fishing than in previous years.
Some anglers have done especially well. Barry Goodman, a spinnerbait specialist, fished in Lake Burley Griffin near Scrivener Dam for 21 nice fish to about 45cm. The fish took the lure about three metres down. The tinny bugger also cracked it for an unexpected 4.5kg golden perch in Lake Ginninderra on the same lure.
Another angler on Lake Ginninderra did well casting and retrieving live yabbies for about 20 large redfin. Surprisingly, lures worked through the same area failed to yield a fish.
Another lucky angler visiting Burrinjuck found a big, interesting-looking lure on the bank and used it to catch two nice Murray cod near Wade Island. A few other cod have been taken on bobbed live yabbies and shrimps, but mostly they have been quiet, as expected.
A few golden perch have been taken, mostly on live bait, in the Main Basin and especially in McPherson's Inlet, a small bay near the dam wall. Anglers suspect the golden perch may be gathering near the dam wall in an unachievable attempt to undertake their ingrained annual downstream Winter migration.
Lake Wyangala is horribly low, at 8%, but is being fished heavily because of poor flows in the regional rivers. Anglers report some nice catfish, a fair few smallish cod and small silver perch, all on worms. No trout have been reported and it is feared the entire trout population in the reservoir has perished because of the drought.
Pejar Reservoir, near Goulburn, also is in big trouble. It is down to probably the lowest level in history with a huge expanse of caked mud surrounding a pitiful pond of water
. Surprisingly, many of the trout have survived and even look to be in reasonable condition. One angler recently, using Wonder Crocodile lures, was rewarded with 12 fish, all around a kilo. Another lure angler landed seven fish.
Fly anglers have taken a few although they feel a bit uneasy about killing fish under these conditions. It looks to be a matter of ethics versus necessity.
What we need now is rain, lots of it and soon. Without it the trout will not get up the rivers to spawn and the fish in the rivers will not survive.
Even the hardiest of the native fish are at risk. If we are going to avoid finishing up with nothing but redfin and carp we need some relief soon. So get out there and help us out with a rain dance – Indian, African, Aboriginal or whatever. It may or may not work but at least it can't do any harm. Get into it.Reads: 1023