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Daylight saving a boon
  |  First Published: December 2008



Daylight saving certainly is appreciated by anglers in our part of the world. An earlier start to the day means knocking off work with plenty of daylight still available to enable some after-work fishing.

In fact, with a bit of careful planning, it is possible to work over some of the hot spots in any of Canberra's five urban lakes or Googong Reservoir for a couple of hours after work, before dark, most days of the week.

With even more finer tuning and perhaps a bit of flex time, it is possible even to make it to Eucumbene or some regional trout streams for a bit of Salmo fishing or to Burrinjuck or Wyangala to tempt some of the natives and redfin.

While I am sympathetic to little old ladies who cherish their curtains, dairy farmers whose cows produce only curdled milk, pig farmers whose porkers turn prematurely into baconers, poultry farmers whose chooks suddenly produce square eggs and cockies whose wheat grows upside down, all of which allegedly are caused by Daylight Saving, I am a devout fan.

It may cause all sorts of strange things to happen to some of the more imaginative members of rural and urban society but it is a blessing for those who love the outdoors and can't get enough of it. That's probably why we have had so many good fish reports during recent weeks.

MOUNTAIN TROUT

Although all of the mountain snow has melted there is still a pleasing flow in most of the higher trout streams. There have been good reports of plentiful water in the Thredbo, Eucumbene, Mowamba, Murrumbidgee, Tumut, Goobragandra and Goodradigbee Rivers and some of the smaller streams.

Most of this water is coming from seepage from snowmelt areas, topped up by intermittent but pleasing rain. It hasn't been a lot of rain and the drought is still well and truly with us but we welcome even the smallest falls and look forward to more.

The good flows have meant plenty of opportunities for good fishing, especially fly fishing.

Anglers in the Thredbo and Eucumbene rivers probably have had the best of it. There were plenty of late-spawning rainbows well up the rivers and a surprising number of browns still up there in October and November.

While the spawners and immediate post-spawners didn't provide much sport, it was an opportunity for many new-chum fly fishers to test their skills on trout after a drought when fish simply weren't available.

It also provided an opportunity for anglers to learn and practise catch and release. At times anglers could catch perhaps 15 fish in a morning or afternoon session and learn how to gently and safely release the fish.

We reinforce the message about catch and release by heavily publicising that fish fresh from spawning are no good for the table because they are soft, poorly coloured and unpalatable. That's why you put them back.

Most of the fish have been taken on small wets such as Glo Bugs, Muppets, brown, grey and green nymphs, beadhead nymphs and beadhead Tom Jones but, as the weather has warmed, there has been a shift to various caddis patterns, especially Iron Blue Dun, Royal and Hairwing Coachman and Royal Humpy.

Soon we will be regularly fishing more dries, including Hardy’s Favourite, White Moth, Black Spinner and Geehi Beetle.

We will shift from sinking and sink-tip lines to floating lines and look to finer and longer leaders as the water becomes clearer and the level drops, making fish more easily spooked.

As Summer progresses the fish will become harder to take.

They will spend much of their day hiding under overhanging banks, in weed beds or in the ruffled water below rapids.

Much of their feeding will be limited to early morning or late afternoon or, perhaps, when there is an especially good hatch of tasty insects such as caddis, stone flies, mayflies, dragonflies or a fall of flying ants or a burst of beetles.

Pretty soon, too, we will see the grasshoppers arrive, plopping tantalisingly into the water.

All that means a change of tactics. It means more early and late sorties, more camouflaged fishing along the bank, longer casts with finer and longer leaders and gentler and more accurate placement of the fly.

In general, the fishing becomes more demanding but more satisfying.

LAKES EXCITE

Despite low levels in Jindabyne, Eucumbene and Tantangara, fishing has been rewarding.

Jindabyne produced a lot of fish for trollers, initially with flatlines but now lead-core line and downriggers to get down to where the deeper fish are during the day.

Best lures have been Tasmanian Devils, yellow-winged patterns and especially No 89 and my Y82 Canberra Killer. Others have been taken on Baby Merlin, Rapala, Rebel and other minnows, Wonder Spoons, Wonder Crocodiles and Flatfish.

Off the bank some excellent trout and big hatchery-release Atlantic salmon have been taken on scrub worms and PowerBait.

Eucumbene, despite years of drought, has been productive. The water briefly rose over new ground to almost 23% but probably will steadily retreat to about 10%.

The fishing has remained good. Trollers have done well with the same tackle and tactics as at Jindabyne but much of the emphasis has been on bait fishing from the bank. Most anglers have been able to land at least three to four a session using PowerBait, bardi grubs and scrub worms.

About three-quarters of the fish are rainbows averaging 800g, with browns commonly around 1.3kg. All have been in excellent condition.

Tantangara, renowned for its large population of smaller browns and rainbows, has been an excellent fly fishery. Anglers working from boats with sinking lines have caught over a dozen fish in a session, mostly on nymphs and small versions of Craig's Night-time, Mrs Simpson, Hamill’s Killer and Woolly Worm.

It will be one of the better locations to fish right through the Summer and a boat will be a distinct advantage.

LOCAL LAKES

Canberra's local lakes and Googong Reservoir, 30 minutes across the border into NSW, have provided some interesting fishing for carp, redfin and natives.

Carp have been easy meat for coarse anglers using corn, bread, hemp seed or scrub worms. The largest from Lake Burley Griffin this season went just on 15kg.

Redfin have provided an enormous amount of enjoyment for lure and bait anglers. Catches of 20 to 30 fish are common in all of the lakes and although most are small, there have been outstanding specimens up to 53cm – excellent tucker.

Golden perch have been responding well to lures and bait and this season we have seen fish to 6.7kg from Burley Griffin with a lot more to come as the weather warms up.

As always, Murray cod, protected for their own good during the breeding season September-November, insist on coming to the party and recently we saw a 20kg fish caught at Googong, a 20kg, 85cm fish in Burley Griffin and a 25kg, 93cm fish in Lake Tuggeranong. All were caught on lures meant for golden perch and were returned swiftly and unharmed to the water.

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