December is usually a very quiet month in the mountains in terms of angling numbers so it’s a great time to get some fishing in before the January rush.
Usually this month you can fish the rivers and hardly see another angler. If you get the chance, it’s worth the trip.
December is also my time for a family holiday and this year I will spend a week in Merimbula chasing flathead and bream in my new 4.1m Polycraft.
We can look forward to some excellent evening hatches on the rivers and streams for fly anglers and the boat trollers can get stuck into the deep trolling methods like lead-lining and downrigging.
Bait anglers have to get up early and fish the sunrise or wait until evening to get the most out of their fishing. Spin anglers, like bait anglers, will have to fish early and late on the lake but have the advantage of being able to target a few fish in the rivers during the middle of the day. Remember, bait angling is illegal in most rivers and streams in the Snowy Mountains.
Fishing on average has been pretty good and I don’t expect that to change for a while.
Lake Jindabyne fell slightly over November due to work on the dam wall, which will continue at least until next winter. Still expect some delays as you cross the dam wall, should they be blasting on the day. Most of the blasting occurs at 12.30pm and delays of about half an hour are normal.
Over the past month we have been plagued by constant weather changes that have altered the fishing conditions from day to day, making it a little harder for anglers not used to fishing mountain lakes.
Regulars have had more luck working out the fish and have been recording excellent catches. There has been some excellent surface and lead-line trolling very early in the morning with the best fishing coming from the sheltered weedy bays like Hatchery and Hayshed.
We have started to get a few brown trout on downriggers at 6 to 9m. The larger Atlantic salmon are now being caught less frequently but smaller fish are coming in regularly.
Yabby-coloured lures like the Tassie Devil Holographic have been catching a few brown trout off the downriggers, as has the no. 48 Tasmanian Devil.
Rainbows and salmon are taking gold or green/gold lures with Devil numbers 36, 50, S12, 89 good, with most of the yellow wing lures also catching fish quite regularly. Yellow wing 82 has been brilliant over the past month.
Lead-core line is still very good early and late in the day. Try two colours (20m) early and then to three to four colours (30 to 40m) later.
Best lures for bigger fish have been those in brown trout or black and gold patterns. Rapalas in black and gold and Huey’s Lures in spotted dog pattern have been very good. The River 2 Sea black and gold 40mm minnows have been a new success for Jindabyne, especially when trolled off lead-core line or downriggers.
The Rebel Crickhopper has also been great in black and gold and the Baby Merlins in BM5 and BM6 are also very good. Remember, 6am is too late for most of the big browns when trolling, although you will still get rainbows and salmon well into the morning.
Early afternoon has been okay for deep trolling, with some unusually good fishing happening between noon and 2pm. This may or may not continue over the next few weeks.
Anglers who usually troll mudeyes behind Ford Fenders have been reporting fantastic success using PowerBait Micro Nymphs in toad or olive shad colours. There is something about this artificial that the trout just love. I suspect it’s the smell. The trick is to use copper or gold Ford Fenders trolled very slowly so the blades just tick over.
The best areas have been around Rushes, Hatchery and Hayshed bays and over near Rainbow Beach Estate at East Jindabyne. Lion and Cub Islands have also had some good and bad days. The good days follow an evening hatch of midges.
Worms off the bottom with a PowerBait dropper will be the best method in the middle of the day with mudeyes best used early and late. On certain days the fish have been a little picky, so use some line grease to help the line float and restrict drag. This method is always best when mudeye fishing.
Worms under a float have still been producing some good Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout.
The orange, lemon and lime twist PowerBait have been the best flavours but rainbow nuggets have also been good.
Best areas have been, Stinky Bay, Wollondibby Inlet in the deeper water, Curiosity Rocks Bay, Creel Bay and Rushes Bay. The Claypits are still fishing well.
A little rain and storms over the past month have meant there is still plenty of water in the rivers and streams. Whatever you use, you will have to get the lure close to the bottom for the best results.
Minnow lures are a favourite at the moment. Rainbow and brown trout patterns are always good in the following lures but other colours are also worth trying. Use Baby Merlins in BM5, 6 and 18, sinking Rapalas in perch pattern, Legends in any colour that has red and orange in it, StumpJumpers in colours 42 and 43 and the Rebel Crickhopper in orange or yellow.
A new lure on the market, similar to the Rebel Crickhopper, is the Juro Mimic Bait Hopper. There are some excellent colours in this range that I’m sure will be successful on trout.
Soft plastics have been very slow to take off in trout waters but they are producing some excellent trout and are worth a try in the rivers. If rigged correctly, these can be almost snag-free, allowing you to fish them along the bottom for amazing results. It takes a little practice but when you get the hang of using them in fast-flowing rivers, they can be deadly to the late-spawning rainbow trout.
The PowerBait Blade Dancer is almost snag-free and proving very productive worked along the bottom in the faster runs.
On the lake, it is best to spin early and late in the day close around rocky outcrops. Use smaller lures like Celtas or Gillies spinners around the shallow bays after dark.
The best lake lures have been Tasmanian Devils in no. 48 brown bomber, 26 yellow wings and the yellow wing 23 sparkler.
Minnow lures are also producing some big browns, especially gold StumpJumpers and black and gold Rapalas. It is best to stalk the fish during the day by spotting them with polarised sunnies and then gently casting past the fish and bringing the lure back to it.
Lake regulars know that there are small goldfish in there that big brown trout just love. New on the market is a lure that so closely resembles a goldfish you will be amazed, the River 2 Sea Baby Vibe 35 in colours HA09 or HA12. It’s well worth a cast in bays like Wollondibby Inlet, Widows Creek, Mill Creek Inlet and Rushes Bay, to name a few.
Dry-fly action on the warmer evenings has been good with caddis and flying black ants in abundance of late.
Nymphs fished through the faster runs are producing some good size rainbows and browns but the trick in the faster water is to make sure the fly is on the bottom – you may need weighted flies or even a sinking fluorocarbon leader.
The smaller streams have started to fish better with some excellent dry-fly action on the lower Mowambah River. Small no.12 Yellow Humpies have been excellent and a White Wulff is also worth having. Teatree beetles have been about and so where you see those it is worth putting on an imitation and casting at the base of overhanging tea trees.
The lake has been fishing well early and late. Best flies have been green/olive nymphs or stick caddis patterns in the shallows early and late and into the night you can’t go past a black Woolly Bugger or a Williamson’s Gold Fish around the creek mouths and shallow bays.
All in all, we are going to have an interesting summer of fishing. Reports to date indicate we are having one of the best seasons in many years.
I am going to have another Trolling Clinic in February with trolling expert Bill Presslor joining me for the two days to teach the basics and advanced methods. You can even bring your own boat along for assessment or set-up. Cost is $360 and those who mention Fishing Monthly on their booking sheet will receive a free sponsors’ pack of goodies. Call me on (02) 6456 1551 or 0408 024 436. For the latest fishing conditions, call me at the shop on (02) 6456 1551.Reads: 555