Conditions finally look to be changing for the better in the Canberra-Monaro district.
We have had the coldest Autumn for seven years, the best rain for the past two decades and we are now looking for more rain and some heavy and continuing snowfalls during Winter.
Regional streams have had the best (for some the first) decent flush for many years and there is increasing optimism that the worst of the 10-year drought is in decline.
There have been some interesting fish captures during the change in the weather.
Fishing for larger fish in Googong Reservoir in recent years have been hampered by the hordes of redfin there, which attack baits, flies and lures with great ferocity.
The larger ones might be good fun to catch and great to eat but the smaller ones make life hard.
Anglers have tried a few tricks to beat them, with varying success. Those chasing golden perch and Murray cod have used ultra-large lures or outsized yabby baits but even then have encountered 20cm pests hanging on grimly.
One trick has been to concentrate on areas with the fewest redfin. Googong regular Tom Haalebos discovered that he could find good goldens and few redfin along the edges of weed beds just a short distance offshore. Targeting that zone with spinnerbaits and deep divers, he has landed some good fish.
Barry Goodman caught some nice cod to around 10kg using large, flashy spinnerbaits and anglers using big deep divers have landed and released fish to 105cm.
The Googong trout population has been severely diminished by drought and lack of stocking but an occasional fish has been taken, including Gerard Armstrong’s superb 61cm brown.
Canberra’s five urban lakes have provided an occasional pleasant surprise. The Winter pattern is for most of the small redfin to retire somewhere, leaving the way open for lager specimens.
Burley Griffin regular Chris McGrath is one of a number of anglers to capitalise on this. He trolls from a small, electric-powered inflatable boat and specialises in ultra-deep Custom Crafted and AC Invader lures. In one recent session ne landed nine big redfin to 45cm.
Another family group recently had a great time testing out some new rods and reels by casting lures from the shore. They fished from one of the pontoons along the lake shore and caught 19 splendid redfin.
Elsewhere in the lake there has been just an occasional golden perch but most seem to have gone to sleep. One angler tried hard and long with plastics in the Molonglo just upstream for just one golden and a large carp.
Fish have been a bit more active in the smaller, shallower Lake Gininderra. One persistent angler recently took eight quality golden perch to 5kg in a week using scrub worms near the dam wall, where fish sometimes gather to forage among the rocks.
Another youngster sheltering under a road bridge during a rainstorm was rewarded with a nice golden perch and a throwback Murray cod which both took scrub worms.
One conservation-minded angler has been targeting a big group of golden perch trapped in the stilling hole below the spillway. The fish were washed over during a rainstorm and can’t get back in the lake or down stream.
Each day he catches two or three of the mostly quite large fish, then transfers them back into the dam. He feels he’s in a race against time before the fish succumb to predators or starvation.
Some local youngsters volunteered to catch some specimens to restock my 1000L aquarium. They brought me 10 redfin and a golden perch which all have settled in so well the golden has already eaten four of the redfin.
It’s the same tank that is home to Eric the longfinned eel we mentioned in the June issue. He’s settled in nicely, dining daily on small yabbies and frozen prawns and seems to tolerate the golden perch, two turtles and the six remaining redfin that share his tank.
The lowland stream east and north of Cooma and in the ACT were high and dirty after the early winter rain and should settle nicely in time for Spring. Many were almost devoid of fish because of the drought and will need restocking. The Cooma Trout Association using fingerlings from the Gaden Hatchery, now entirely funded from licence fees, will undertake most of that.
The higher streams, including the important spawning waterways of the Thredbo and Eucumbene, have fared well. Heavy Autumn and Winter rain resulted in a big spate which enticed the browns out of the lakes in large numbers and the spawning run looks like it is going to be good.
The Autumn pre-spawn is the one time anglers have a reasonable chance of landing a trophy-sized brown and this year some excellent fish were caught and released.
Veteran fly fisher Phil Brumby had an outstanding run, landing nine fish in one day, three of which were from 4.6kg to 6.6kg. He uses nymphs of his own design but other anglers had reasonable success with Glo Bugs, Celtas and large Rapala minnows.
The big mountain lakes have followed their usual winter pattern.
In between getting bogged on the lake shore when it thaws, shore-based anglers have accounted for nice rainbows on PowerBait and bardi grubs, with just a few on scrub worms and yabbies.
Most of the fish have been taken just after dark but there has also been a good run from dawn to about 8am. Nearly all have been rainbows of a kilo but more recently a lot of undersize fish have showed around the edges.
Trollers have accounted for some nice browns, especially deep on lead core or downriggers. Gold wing Tassie Devils and large minnows have done the damage.
Eucumbene has been a little more successful than Jindabyne, which has produced larger fish.
The rainbows should reach a peak in late August and September and until then those who can put up with the cold will continue to catch fish while others can put up their feet until Spring.Reads: 2551