While Autumn started with a cold change and we were looking at an early Winter, the opposite ended up true with the weather warming and it was the end of April before any real frosts hit.
Winter is now really here, by the calendar anyway, and the Snowy Mountains is in full swing for the snow season but when the white stuff will actually fall is in the hands of the snow gods.
If you believe the long-range forecasters, we will have a slightly better snow season than last year but we need a huge season to lift water levels in our lakes.
Snow and rain also spur the trout into the rivers for their spawning run and we’re hoping for good rain so the fish have a successful spawn.
This Winter Lake Jindabyne and Lake Eucumbene will most likely be lowered to almost minimum levels. Last year the Jindabyne level dropped to 44% and you could drive a 4WD to Lion Island.
Fortunately, at the moment the water is a reasonably good 46% and there are still good weed beds and plenty of feed for the trout, which are in spectacular condition.
With the rivers closed to fishing from June 8, we will be concentrating on the lake fishing.
Over coming months the fishing will be good and there is a great possibility that you will see some trophy fish caught. In the past month I have been seeing plenty of brown trout from 3kg to 4.5kg.
Winter is the time you need to have your wits about you and you will have to read the conditions of the day to maximise results. You could be fishing deeper on sunny, still days and using bait on the windy days.
The best bait fishing usually occurs when the weather is bad and that’s OK because bait-fishing methods from the shore entail possibly the most comfortable way of fishing, given the conditions.
Bait fishing around the edges of the lake during the day can be an excellent way of catching a trout.
You can fish all day during Winter but don’t fish too deep, because the fish often feed close to the shore. Scrub worms or Berkley PowerBait work well in Winter any time, day or night, as long as you don’t mind sitting back and waiting.
Fish both baits off the bottom with a running sinker, just like you do in saltwater fishing. Remember to fish light and keep the reel bail arm open to let the trout run with the bait.
PowerBait is great in Winter and the best types are the newer Gulp series. Just a small ball of PowerBait, not much bigger than a pea, and a small hook will catch more fish than big hooks and big bits of PowerBait.
Gamakatsu do a fine wire hook called a ‘single egg hook’ which is great for PowerBait, especially a size 8 or 10 in Winter.
Over the next few months, the areas to catch trout on bait are Wollondibby Inlet and Creel Bay at Waste Point and, nearer to town, Stinky Bay. Remember, the lake is weedy but that’s where the fish like to hang out.
I like Winter fishing because you don’t have to get out of bed early. Some of the largest of my Winter fish have been caught in the middle of the day in the middle of the lake.
The better lures to use in Winter are Tasmanian Devils in pink No 55 or orange No 56. Also keep in mind Y36, yellow wing, for the sunnier days and No 48 is always worth while early and late in the day, or off three colours or lead-core line.
Jointed Rapalas are worth a try, the bigger the better. We quite often troll 9cm and 11cm lures for the bigger fish.
There are still plenty of big fish at Creel Bay and if you know where the bay’s snags are, it’s not too difficult to downrig some very big brown trout using bigger minnow lures.
If you don’t have a downrigger then try putting the big Rapala on your lead-core line and put out four colours into the water and then another 20m of 20lb dacron backing. This will get the Rapala down to where the bigger browns are holding, but remember to troll slowly – about 2kmh.
Other good areas to troll are in the shallow bays like Hatchery Bay and Hayshed Bay. Sids Bay at East Jindabyne is also a favourite; it’s a weedy bay with lots of food for trout.
Spinning is best early in the morning and it’s often hard to get out of bed, but you may have to suffer the cold to catch the best trout.
I find that in Winter, smaller 7g Tasmanian devils flicked around the edges of the lake perform best.
You can also spin with small bladed spinners like No 1 Celtas and Gillies Hopper spinners in the shallow weedy bays. I like gold or red colours.
Soft plastics are also worth a try and the Squidgy Wriggler in rainbow trout pattern is going great.
Overall, soft plastics for trout would have to work best in Winter. Flicking them out and working them slowly through the snags and above weed beds when the lake is low is a great way to catch trout. Having a boat is a big advantage.
Another Winter lure that has been worth a throw is the 3” StumpJumper, especially in pink.
Jointed Rapalas with a little bit of orange on the belly will get the trout to take notice and if you work these minnows like a wounded fish you will get a lot more strikes.
June and July on Lake Jindabyne would have to be the hardest and coldest months for fly fishing.
The best fishing occurs when the browns start to return from spawning in late July and cruise the edges.
You may still find plenty of rainbow trout in the weed beds but they can be hard to catch, especially from the shore. They can be spooky at this time of year.
If you are a reasonable fly caster, you will be able to polaroid these rainbows. Cast a fly a couple of metres in front and wait until the fish moves towards the fly before giving it a little twitch or a little strip of 10cm or 20cm.
Less proficient casters can target these fish by suspending a nymph, using an indicator to hold it up off the bottom. Move the nymph very slowly, a twitch every now and then, to keep the fly ‘alive’.
Don’t take your eyes off the indicator because the trout will often take the fly very gently, just sucking it in.
With the low lake levels, the better Jindabyne polaroiding bays are Creel, Hayshed and Hatchery bays, Mill Creek Inlet, the Claypits, and the Snowy Arm.
If you would like more information call in to my shop at Discovery Holiday Parks Jindabyne, next to the Shell servo, or call 02 6456 1551. I operate guided tours right throughout Winter.
Best method: Bait fishing.
Best depth: Under a bubble float 1m to 2m from the surface.
Best lake lure: Tasmanian Devil pink 55 or yellow wing brown bomber Y48.
Best lake area: East Jindabyne Islands, Creel Bay at Waste Point.
Best fly: Hammill’s Killer (lake only) .
Best river: Rivers close on Monday, June 8, to reopen on October 3.