City swelter heats up fishing
  |  First Published: February 2009

It’s high summer up here in the mountains. All those air conditioners hum away in the cities, demanding more electricity. In turn, Snowy Hydro is pushing plenty of cold hydro water from the east, through the mountains, into the power stations and on into Khancoban Pondage.

The water is then gradually released into the Murray River, via the Lower Swampy Plains River. With temperatures around the 40°C mark in the cities, there has been a huge increase in flow since mid January. This influx of icy hydro water has seen the surface temperature of the Pondage reduce from 23-25°C in the first week of January, down to 13-15°C in late January.

So what does this mean to the intrepid angler? Firstly the trout fishing has taken off. In the Lower Swampy Plains River we have seen three browns over 2kg, as well as several nice rainbows, caught recently.

Water for the river comes through the spillway, from the bottom of the Khancoban Pondage (the coldest part). It is this steady inflow of cold water that leads to great summer trout fishing.

A month ago the only fish on the menu were redfin (albeit it excellent specimens of over 2kg), but now the trout are really starting to move again. We are just waiting for a couple of good insect hatches to really fire things up. Trout fishing steadily improves from now until Easter, with March to May the best times, particularly for the trophy trout (above 10 lb on the old scale).

Tooma Dam has also been fishing well. This dam is 20-30 minutes drive from Khancoban.

Flyfishers are still having good results with nymph and caddis patterns. Woolly Buggers are also being used and have resulted in some nice trout.

Lure fishing has been a bit slow in the Pondage, possibly because of the number of speedboats using the lake this year.

Best baits are the usual worms and mudeyes, with worms working especially well below the Spillway. The other productive bait fishing areas are around the dead trees, in the southwestern part of the lake.

The Khancoban area has received a large number of fry and fingerlings this year (50,000 Atlantic salmon and 25,000 brown and rainbow trout). Khancoban is receiving more than usual because so many streams and impoundments are still drought affected. These heavy stocking levels should see excellent fishing over the next few years.

It is not just the Pondage that is stocked. Tooma and Geehi dams, as well as the Upper and Lower Swampy Plains Rivers and the upper Murray River, all receive part of the bounty.

We are heading toward the best part of the trout fishing year, so get ready. With the good December rains and steady throughput of hydro water, this is shaping up to be a memorable season.

Come up the week before Easter and join in the fun of the Man From Snowy River Bush Festival, encompassing everything from whip cracking to bush poetry, rodeo and endurance riding. It has something for every one. See www.bushfestival.com.au for further information.

Baka Brulic with a 1.5kg brown trout caught in the Lower Swampy Plains River (spillway area) on a scrubworm.

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