Well, there isn’t an awful lot to report from the Snowies, other than there isn’t much snow, and it’s eerily quiet now the rivers are closed. Camps were being broken down and by Monday afternoon, processions of cars headed east and west out of town, the occasional backward look, a real sense of calm descending like the winter morning fog.
Col and I headed to Tantangara to escape the mood, and found a small slice of paradise. Following my own advice from last week’s blog and with the lake at 24% and rising, all I could think of was tailing fish on the Nungar flats. Now I should say I did see just one. A quarter of a fin gently waving in the breeze like a little spotted flag. Nose down, tail up, no more than a foot from the bank. A bit of fever caught me and I lined it first cast – the only sign a plume of sediment.
But that was all later. Before we got to that point, Col had his own fever to treat with a walk up Nungar Creek.
We’d arrived on the lake shortly after dawn whilst it was still in a dense fog. With the help of satellite mapping and a compass, our way was woven in a generally northerly direction up the lake; dead-slow, with prolific use of the fog horn bringing curses no doubt from those in the many tent cities along the lake shore. Inconsiderate to some maybe but more considerate of “there’s bound to be an idiot troller out here somewhere” (never mind these idiot flyfishers also out here somewhere). By the time we reached the westerly turn for the Murrumbidgee River and Nungar Creek arms, the sun was burning the fog off and we could pick up a bit of speed. My mist-dampened fleece was white with frost and Col pointed out the ice sculptures growing off the dead-fly patch mounted on the console.
Despite the sub-zero temperatures, this was some of the most glorious scenery you could ever hope for in the mountains; the usually capricious skies as steady as an ocean liner and bluer than Nadia Bjorlin’s eyes. Winter shades of green and brown, frosted hillsides, and water the tea colour of gelbstoff. We passed a massive marquee encampment with 7 boats and more 4WDs at the mouth of the Murrumbidgee arm and drove up the Nungar arm, pulled the boat up and drank warming coffee before fishing. No rush, we were first there.
The creek was awesome. The backed up water is up past the dolerite rocks so we didn’t have to walk far to the first pools and not much further to the first fish. The gravel redds were well worked over and we saw enough trout to keep us interested, but not as many as there would have been after the rain two weeks earlier. A green tungsten nymph was enough to get the fish interested. There was some evidence of human tracks, but not the ‘game’ tracks of the Eucumbene’s tributary creeks. At one point I found Col perched high over a long deep pool, watching a 4 lb fish darting around like a dementor chasing something clearly of food interest, whilst forcing a fish as long as your arm and as broad as your hand to hug the bank in an unfishable spot – where no doubt it can still be found.
We headed back to the lake for a spot of polaroiding in perfect conditions other than the slightly tea-coloured water, before a final drift across the Nungar flats where the green tungsten nymph again did the business.
It’s lake-only now for the next four months. I’m off to Tonga for a work trip, then back for some more lake fishing – and it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be a quiet winter.
Tight tippets all,
As a postscript, I ran into a couple of characters with their Hilux stuck at Providence and spent an hour or so helping them to get out of a treacherous swamp – with my Pajero – payback for the help I received last year from Land Rover good Samaritan rego “MUDDER”. One of them, Danny, got talking about flies and he showed me his fly box. I’m not prone to envy, but this was right out of the catalogue. Not only were they all lined up like soldiers but they were real “craft”. I’ve not seen anything like this since I last saw Mick Hall in action. Anyway, he also showed me his NZ Tekapo canal fish pic – which is below; 33 lb of thumping rainbow. But I’m not prone to envy!