After what was an unusually cold start to the trout fishing season last Spring, the hot weather is making up for lost time as Summer comes to an end.
As the heat continued and the lake water temperature rose, the trout retreated to deeper, cooler water which made the surface fishing difficult and bank-based anglers struggled. Out deep, the boat anglers lucky enough to have downriggers were cleaning up with record catches of kilo rainbow trout, anglers bagging out some days in less than an hour.
Lack of rain over the past month has our rivers levels a little slower than normal and the trout hiding in deeper pools or in the faster water where more oxygen is available for the bigger fish.
The amazing number of grasshoppers, however, kept the river trout on the bite and they are in remarkable condition, given the extremes of weather.
The smaller, lower streams along the Monaro are still badly affected by drought and will need many months of rain to recover. Better fishing is definitely in the alpine region.
This is the month when the seasons change again and we look forward to cooler nights and hopefully a little more rain.
As the water starts to cool, the lake bait fishing picks up again and we should see some good fish caught.
Fly anglers will experience some good early-morning dry-fly action but remember, the rivers are low and the water is warm and it may need another month and good rain before we see good Autumn fly fishing.
Trollers will still be doing best, with downriggers getting a lot of use and as we get towards April there will be a return to lead lines and some good surface fishing after cooler nights and milder days.
Spin anglers would best concentrate on the lake and give the streams a miss unless we get rain to raise the levels and provide a little more colour.
Overall, the month ahead looks good and there are plenty of trout and Atlantic salmon available.
Lake levels are dropping slowly and will continue so, which is normal at this time of year.
Best action is using downriggers from 35 feet and then maybe to 45 feet by mid-morning.
Try lead lines and surface lines at first light if you wish but if there are no bites after an hour, go deeper. On cloudy or rainy days you can fish surface until about 10am. My new black/gold Tasmanian Devil has been very good for downrigging.
Better trolling will be deep water off Lion and Cub Islands or off Hatchery Bay and Hayshed Bay. Sids Bay to Rushes Bay will fish well early in the day for big browns in the first hour of light.
Best spinning has been on the lake using sinking Rapalas early and late in the day where there are steep drop-offs with plenty of rocks. Bays like Creel, Hatchery and the Snowy Arm all fish well.
As the sun rises, change to a Tassie and cast further out over drop-offs, letting the lure sink before you retrieve slowly.
Best areas have been down at the South Arm or near Banjo Patterson Park but as the month progresses, Waste Point and the Snowy Arm will start to fire.
On the low and warm Thredbo River spinning has been hard work but if we get rain and the river rises, try deeper lures to get closer to the bottom where the fish lie in wait.
Most rivers and streams in the Snowy Mountains region are fly and lure only, so check with DPI Fisheries which rivers you can legally use bait in and if in doubt, don’t.
Lake bait fishing will improve this month and scrub worms off the bottom and tiger worms under a float will produce best, although PowerBait will help your catch rate considerably.
The old faithful grasshopper suspended under a float isn’t often used these days but works a treat and there are plenty about. You might need the kids with a butterfly net to help you collect the bait.
Best bait areas are Creel Bay, Hatchery Bay and Curiosity Rocks in the deeper water.
Lake fly fishing is best early morning. In coming months as the water cools, and with so much weed around the edges, we should see some big fish caught.
Try any of the streamer patterns such as black Woolly Buggers and Williamson’s Gold Fish. Olive green nymphs and shrimp patterns are also worth a try. The South Arm, Creel Bay and especially Sid’s Bay are all great.
On the Thredbo River the hopper fishing is still very good and there are plenty of evening rises and fantastic dry-fly fishing but you need to fish the deeper pools.
The Alpine streams are still looking OK and plenty of small fish are being caught on dry fly. Fly selection is not too critical in these streams but placement is, or you just scare the fish.
Try a small Hopper pattern, Royal Wulff or Royal Humpy. A caddis moth fly is not a bad option.
The lower Mowambah near the weir on the Dalgety Road is well worth a look.
I have set up my new teaching centre at Quality Resort Horizons and all our courses will be run from the new centre, just beside the main entrance. I am now permanently set up to teach all our courses and fly students have the grounds at Horizons as well as adjoining Lake Jindabyne on which to practise. Courses now will offer great accommodation and meal packages.
The next beginner fly weekend is on March 14 and 15 and it will be nice to head up to the bar for beer and a chat about the day’s activities. Visit www.horizonsresort.com.au. Help me with a name for the new centre, email me at --e-mail address hidden-- with suggestions.
• The Discovery Holiday Parks Jindabyne Family Fishing Challenge, also the grand final to the Think You Can Fish Series, went off well and plenty of fish were weighed in. More on that next month.
MARCH BEST BETS
Best method: Lake trolling with downriggers (or jigging) to 35 feet.
Best lake lure: Tasmanian Devil yellow wing Freddo or Steve Williamson’s lime green yellow wing.
Best lake area: Deep water off Lion and Cub Islands.
Best fly: Dry hopper patterns and Yellow Humpies.
Best river: Thredbo River above The Diggings (stay high in the mountains for the best fishing)