Trout fishing in the Snowy Mountain is a very important $75 million industry and is estimated to support 700 jobs.
In December I was invited to attend the official opening of the Gaden Trout Hatchery’s new state-of-the-art $280,000 facility which keeps the trout coming along year after year.
The opening was performed by former local MHR Steve Whan and NSW DPI director of wild harvest fisheries Anthony Hurst. Visitors were shown the very small fry, fingerlings and some of the very big brood salmon, brook trout, browns and rainbows.
The breeding of browns and rainbows is done from wild trout which are trapped and stripped of roe and milt in their yearly spawning run in the Thredbo River next to the hatchery. The roe and milt are mixed and fertilisation occurs immediately and hatching takes place within six weeks.
The eggs are grown to fry and then fry and fingerlings are released into selected cold public lakes and rivers in NSW. Lake Eucumbene receives 150,000 rainbow fingerlings and a very large number of fry every year to help its wild stock. That makes sure that even an inexperienced trout angler has a sporting chance to catch a fish.
Some figures from the Gaden Trout Hatchery’s 2007 production so everyone can understand what a vital role this trout hatchery plays in our economy:
• Brook trout – 30,000 fry from 127,000 eggs laid down;
• Atlantic salmon – 240,000 fry from 421,000 eggs;
• Brown trout – 455,000 fry from 644,000 eggs;
• Rainbow trout – 1,015.000 fry from 1,288,000 eggs.
A further 625,000 eggs of brown trout were also sent to the Dutton Hatchery on the New England Tablelands.
The Gaden Hatchery has guided tours daily and opens at 10am.
The flow in our rivers and creeks is good after regular rain and the only drawback is that all the tussocks are growing high around the edges of some of the creeks and rivers, which can make walking and casting a lot harder.
But the fishing is very exciting with nice trout in very good condition being caught on dry and wet flies.
The grasshopper season should be up and running when you read this. We’ve had some smaller hoppers around for some time and with all the grass about they should grow pretty quickly and end up in the insect smorgasbord which flows downstream to the waiting trout.
Best flies include hopper patterns, Humpies, Royal Wulff, Royal Coachman,, Shaving Brush, Black Ant and beetle patterns, to mention a few. If you fish deeper water during the heat of the day, it can be wise to suspend a nymph 60cm below a Royal Wulff or any other dry of your choice.
I’ve noticed most anglers are leaving the river far too early and missing out on the best fishing. The two last hours before dark are quite often when it all happens, with plenty of insect hatches, lots of rising fish and plenty of fun.
Fly fishing in Lake Eucumbene is improving by the day. Very good catches have been reported daily with a surprising number of browns being caught during the day by polaroiding the shallow, weedy bays and spring-fed soaky run-offs from some of the steeper banks.
The most effective technique has been to use a dry fly with a trailing nymph. In general, early mornings, late afternoons and into the night produces the best action and you can’t go past wet flies like a Woolly Bugger, Craig’s Nighttime, Mrs Simpson, red and black Fuzzy Wuzzy or a Muddler Minnow.
So find your dusty fly rod and waders and grab your mate or family and go. Good spots include Seven Gates, Yens Bay, Old Adaminaby, Rushy Plains and Anglers Reach and if you have a boat the list can go on forever.
With the mudeye season is at its best, one of these tasty creatures under a running float drifting over a nice shallow weed bay in the early morning or evening into night should produce some fish.
However, when fishing during the day or under windy conditions when it’s hard to keep a float out from the bank, you can’t go past a big fat scrub worm with a PowerBait dropper under a running sinker. This is a deadly combination which fishes well all year round. Good spots are those listed above.
Casting lures from the banks is an active way of fishing because you’re always on the move trying to spot a cruising fish to tempt with soft, hard or metal lures. I normally use a winged lure like a Tassie Devil or Lofty’s Cobra from the bank because they’re heavy enough to cut through the wind and reach a fair distance out.
It’s a different story spinning from a boat, where casting soft plastic minnows around trees and rocky outcrops is fun and often rewarded with a good brown. We’re getting good reports from Anglers Reach, Old Adaminaby and Seven Gates.
In February the water is at its warmest so during the day the fish go deeper where the temperature is more to their liking.
If you plan to take your boat to Lake Eucumbene for trolling in February you need a downrigger or overhead reels with six colours of 12lb lead-core line with a 10m leader of 6lb monofilament and 40m of backing. If you haven’t rigged up like this before, ask for help in local tackle stores and you’ll get the latest advice about which lures and Good spots include around the dam wall, Tolbar, Powerline, Coppermine Bay, Grace Lea Island and Cemetery Point but there are plenty more places. Get a fishing map of Lake Eucumbene and you’ll be in the box seat.
Make sure you don’t troll too quickly. With winged lures the best speed is 2.5kmh to 4kmh. I like to be in 8m to 40m of water.
When you’re fishing large inland stretches of water, watching the weather is very, very important and Lake Eucumbene is the largest inland stretch of water in eastern Australia. With the generous support of Snowy Hydro, the Lake Eucumbene Chamber of Commerce has purchased a weather station and on www.eucumbenechamber.org.au there’s a link to Adaminaby weather which will give information including wind speed and direction, temperature, rainfall, humidity, dew point, moon phase and lots of other data. This can be viewed in a list format or in graphs over the previous 24 hours.
All this information is updated every 10 minutes and will be of great value to all anglers, particularly boaties.
The chamber is also setting up a webcam which it hopes will be operational by the time you read this.
For regular updates about fishing information in this area visit www.alpinetouristpark.com.au/fishing.shtml and www.adaminabyangler.com.au/reports.shtml. To find out everything that Adaminaby and Eucumbene have to offer visit www.alpinetouristpark.com.au/adaminaby.html and www.visitadaminaby.com.au.
Dignitaries gather for the opening of the revamped Gaden Trout Hatchery around one of many outside concrete fingerling tanks.
Alex Gavric proudly shows off another of his good catches, a 1.5kg brown.
Kevin Gowen fished the Eucumbene River with a black Woolly Bugger for this lovely 49cm brown.Reads: 1997