Hungry trout in the Pondage
  |  First Published: August 2008

Winter is well and truly with us. As I sit finishing this article, the rain is teeming down and the snow is falling ‘in them thar hills’. Finally, with this heavy downpour, the last of the brown trout will be heading up the rivers and streams to fulfil their primal reproductive urge.

It’s been a weird season thus far but everything is falling into place so the rest of the season should result in some excellent fishing.

The early spawning trout are now back in the Pondage and are hungry. While not the best eating fish due to their poor condition, they are relatively easy to catch. The trout are pretty scrawny when they arrive back in the lake but their condition picks up rapidly due to the abundant tucker available.

Five or six years ago, the tourism businesses in Khancoban helped employ a marine biologist to examine the food available for trout in the Pondage. We were concerned that if the Pondage was overstocked it may cause a crash in trout numbers.

We were rapt when he reported that Khancoban Pondage contained some of the best grass and reed beds he had seen anywhere in Australia, and that we would have no problem doubling our stocking rate.

The combination of the cold hydro discharge and great food resource explains why Khancoban produces such a large number of trophy trout of 10lb or more.

During the Winter the staple diet of local trout is freshwater snails, foraged from the grass beds that cover the Pondage floor. The trout gorge themselves on these snails – you could use them as a set of maracas they are that big! – to the point that their flesh noticeably darkens.

Any alternative to this fare of snails is welcomed by the fish. Tempting trout with a juicy worm or colourful lure (blue or pink/red seem to be working at the moment) will produce results.

We have started to see some excellent trout coming from the Pondage, with several browns from 1.5 to 3kg caught .

August is great for those who like to fish away from the hordes. It is rare to see more than five or six boats out during the week, so you can concentrate on the fishing instead of the people around you.

When you find that sweet spot and start landing a couple, you don’t have boats converging from all directions trying to get a piece of your action.

Khancoban is only 300m above sea level, so although we’re right on the western edge of the Snowy Mountains, it really is not too cold. We are also well protected from cold southerlies.

While the drought conditions prevail, Winter trout fishing is a great option. Load up the truck and we’ll see you in Khancoban.

Michelle Eames with a ripper 4.6kg (10lb 2oz) brown trout caught on a scrubworm in the Khancoban Pondage – winter fishing at it’s best!

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