High water, high hopes
  |  First Published: February 2009

Just when we thought we were going to see record low lake levels over the summer months, in came the snow and rain and the lakes have started to rise again. Thankfully, we have been saved from what would have been a very difficult trout fishing season.

The water level peaked at about 57% and although the level is dropping slowly at the moment it’s looking great for the rest of summer and early autumn.

February is usually the hottest month in the mountains and so water temperatures are at their highest. The best fishing is always early morning or late evening.

The rivers are still looking great and what started out looking like a long hot and dry summer turned out to be not too bad so far.

The fishing on average has been pretty good and I don’t expect that to change for a while yet. We still have some excellent fishing to come over the next couple of months and you need to get down to the mountains to experience what great trout fishing we have available.


The closure rumour of Gaden Trout Hatchery last November was a shock to us all, but by late December all is now on track for the hatchery to stay open, with help from fishing licence money.

The immediate future of the Gaden Trout Hatchery in Jindabyne has been secured after the Minister for Primary Industries, Ian Macdonald, agreed to a funding proposal. The proposal was put forward by the Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing. It follows a meeting between the Minister and key stakeholders, including the Chair of the Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing, Bruce Schumacher; Steve Samuels, President of the NSW Council of Freshwater Anglers; Member for Monaro Steve Whan; and Robert Brown MLC.

The Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing suggested allocating funding from the Freshwater Trust to the Gaden Hatchery, which has been accepted by the Minister Ian MacDonald.

The trust will invest $417,000 annually to cover the cost of ongoing recurrent expenditure of this important resource. This funding will be in addition to the $124,000 support already provided by the Freshwater Trust each year.

“This is a financially viable solution that will keep Gaden in public hands but reduce the Government’s continuing financial exposure.” Minister Macdonald said.

The funding is due to commence in 2009/10 and is subject to a number of conditions, including:

• A business plan will be developed for the Gaden Hatchery;

• There will be no additional closures of recreational fishing facilities without prior consultation with the Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing;

• Any financial profit from the hatchery will be returned to the Freshwater Trust;

The downside of all this is that the money from the trust for the hatchery has to come for somewhere, and so other licence funded projects may have to be put on hold.

My suggestions are also that the running of the hatchery will now have to be more transparent. It has been suggested a committee be set up to oversee the running of the hatchery, which is a welcomed move. Gaden has huge potential that isn’t been exploited at present.

February Trout
Boat Trolling

The lake water temperatures stayed down a little this season, due to rain, storms and cooler days. It has been good for surface trolling early in the day, but you still need downriggers later in the morning.

Lead line trolling has been excellent and I would expect that we should see this continue over the next month or so. Try two colours (20m) early and three colours (30m) later in the morning.

The Tasmanian Devil number Y50 or Yellow Wing Frog as it is known, is always good for this time of year. The Tasmanian Devil number 36 Yellow Wing has been by far been the best overall lure to use on the lakes over the past month.

My new Steve Williamson black/gold Tasmanian Devil has been very good for downrigging as well. This lure has been designed to flash black and then gold as it is trolled through the water.

Some of the better trolling areas this month will be Hatchery Bay and Hayshed Bay. Sids Bay through to Rushes Bay will fish well early in the day for big brown trout.


The best lure spinning has been on the lake, but fish are still being caught in the Thredbo on small floating Ralapas. The best spinning will be early and late in the day and fishing where there are steep drop-offs with plenty of rocks will be the best areas. 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 with a slow wind. Best areas have been down at the South Arm or near Banjo Patterson Park.

On the river, a variety of lures will work, but the best will be small bladed spinners, like the Gillies Spina or Celtas. I find the best way to fish these lures in the river is to cast upstream and bring them back very slowly. In the pools use floating Rapalas and in the faster water try the bladed spinners.

Due to lower water levels this month the best river to fish is the Thredbo River. The top end above the National Park Entry gates will also be good due to the cooler water.

Bait Fishing

Bait fishing will improve over this month and worms under a float will still be the best bait if you can’t get mud-eyes.

Another bait worth suspending under a float is the old faithful grasshopper, which is a bait you don’t often seen used much these days. They work a treat and there are plenty about at the moment, however, you might need the kids with a butterfly net to help you collect the bait.

Scrub worms with a Powerbait dropper is also a very good way to catch fish this month. The best Powerbaits have been rainbow colour. Alternatively, try the Gulp Bait types with chunky cheese, which is the best for brown trout.

Best bait fishing areas are Creel Bay, Hatchery Bay and Curiosity Rocks.


As the lake water levels drop over the coming months, some of the best flyfishing is found around the weed beds of the lake. This is where you should see some big fish caught.

Try any of the streamer patterns, such as Mrs Simpson and Williamson’s Gold Fish. Olive green nymphs and shrimp patterns are also worth a try.

The Hatchery Bay, Creel Bay and Kangaroo Bay are all great locations.

On the rivers, the Thredbo will start to improve as the days get cooler but there is still plenty of dry flyfishing for another month or so yet.

The Alpine streams are still looking okay and plenty of small fish are being caught on dry fly.

Hopper patterns are the best flies to try but fly selection is not too critical in these streams, however placement is critical or else you just scare all the fish.

All in all, we are looking good for at least some great lake fishing over the coming months, so get your gear together and come and try some of our fantastic trout fishing.


February 14 and 15 will be the first of my Fly Fishing Weekend Courses for 2009 and these are very popular. The cost of 16 hours instruction, including lunch and refreshments is $380, and all equipment including rods are provided free for the course.

On the 28 February I will be holding another one day downrigging course and if you want to learn more then give me a call or e-mail on --e-mail address hidden-- Places are limited and the cost is $150. Call me at the shop on 02 64561551 for bookings


If you would like some personal guiding, I will be available over the coming months for flyfishing tuition and lake trolling trips. Lessons can be booked from two hours, and trolling trips from three hours to a full day.

If you want to know more about the latest in fishing conditions just give me a call on 02 64 561551 or check out my web site at www.swtroutfishing.com.au . I am also starting to build my new web site www.fishingcourses.com.au so have a look at it and I would be grateful for your feedback.


Best method to catch trout in February

Best method:Trolling.
Best depth:Downriggers at 35ft deep.
Best lure:Tasmanian Devil number 36 yellow wing or black/gold Tassie Devil.
Best area:Deepwater off Lion and Cub Islands.

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