The stream season opening in the Snowy Mountains attracts hordes of anglers from all over the country, mainly to target the late-spawning trout in the Eucumbene and Thredbo rivers.
It can be a very busy time on these waters with so many anglers throwing lures and flies at the trout.
It’s not long, though, before the trout become lure-shy and I prefer to head farther afield to waters not so heavily fished. But for those who like to target these waters for trophy fish, the best flies early in the season are Glo Bugs and nymphs either rigged on a fly rod or even on a spin rod using the drift rig principle.
Remember, at this time of the season, the water is still a little fast for dry fly and there are little in the way of insects, so nymphs and artificial trout eggs are the best choices.
While anglers may think that the main species of trout are the late-spawning rainbows, there are actually a lot of browns that stay around to feed on a bit of the caviar that is dropped by the female rainbows.
Spin anglers will tune their minnow-style lures to swim best in the fast-flowing current and it is very necessary to make certain the lures are getting close to the bottom where the bigger fish are holding out.
The alpine streams are those often covered by snow or frozen over in Winter. I have explored a lot of these tiny waterways on skis, which make it a lot easier to get around. You can cover a lot of distance sliding over the snow, a lot more than in Summer when you have to battle the vegetation and wombat holes.
Whether you can fish these streams in early October depends on how much snow is on the ground and how much water is flowing. They can often be raging torrents and completely unfishable by fly anglers and often difficult even for lure anglers.
In early Spring the surrounding ground is also soggy or boggy, so good waders are very necessary.
In recent seasons, which have not seen as much snow, it has been possible to walk and fish and 2009 should again be a good year to hit the mountain streams early.
It is a whole new world after the snow melts to actually come back and fish these little streams. The fish are not big in this high country and a trout that has just reached the legal size of 25cm can often be four or five years old.
Some of my favourite alpine streams are the Gungarlin, Perisher Creek and Spencers Creek.
I would include the Snowy River below Guthega and above Island Bend Dam into this category but the main ones I would class as lower alpine are the Thredbo (Crackenback) River from Thredbo, the Eucumbene River above Lake Eucumbene, the Murrumbidgee near Adaminaby, and the Mowambah (Moonbah) River near Jindabyne.
These rivers are still mainly snow-fed in the Spring thaw with springs allowing for flow even in the driest of Summer seasons.
I’ve already talked about the Thredbo and the Eucumbene but the upper Snowy is an alternative, but can be a treacherous bit of water to fish in the early season. At any time, Guthega Dam can release water through Munyang Power Station and within seconds, the Snowy between Guthega and Island Bend can become a raging torrent.
People have lost their lives in this stretch of water and it is not for the inexperienced.
More friendly water can be found on the upper Murrumbidgee at Adaminaby or closer to Jindabyne on the Mowambah River.
These rivers can be tricky to fish early season but often rewarding for experienced fly and lure anglers.
These rivers are small so use light tackle. A 3wt to 5wt fly rod with a floating line or spin gear as light as 1kg to 3kg is perfect.
Rapala CD3, CD5 in rainbow trout or brown trout – or any with a splash of orange. Floating 3cm-7cm Rapalas in the same colours. Rebel jointed minnows and small StumpJumpers, Attack lures and Viking Minnows – all in trout patterns or with a touch of orange.
Brown and black weighted nymphs
Glo Bugs weighted to suit the depth and flow of water – these must rumble along the bottom.
Note: Sadly, most of the Monaro streams are still drought-affected. Check locally for best fishing possibilities.