We managed a fish together over the last few days for the first time since January. What a contrast to that summer trip – layers, polarfleece, rain jackets and beanies VS fishing for mudeye and moth feeders after dark in shirtsleeves! Like last time, we devoted a fair bit of effort to lakes Eucumbene and Tantangara, although the fishing was obviously very different. Both lakes look a treat – Eucumbene is crystal clear and stable at 41%, with the unusual carpet of weed that’s been around for many months adding a sense of fertility. Meanwhile, Tantangara is rising steadily past 37% and looks about as prosperous as we can remember – clear, plenty of weed and the water inundating a generous carpet of grass brought on by a mild, wet autumn.
The fishing was a challenge, though we never lost the sense that a small shift in conditions could have created a bonanza. For example, on Friday at Anglers Reach on Eucumbene, we counted 25 browns leaping and breaching off one sheltered bay in just 2 hours. Most would have been between 4 to 8 pounds and built like finned bricks. While they were clearly pre spawners heading Providence way, you’d still think we might have caught a couple. Not so – even some very Eucumbene-savvy mates fishing nearby failed to get a touch. It was only later, right on dark, that a solitary 4 pounder on a Craigs Nightime saved us from a duck.
Tantangara on Saturday was a little more giving, though it still took a few hours of persistence to crack the code (sort of!) Around the middle of the day, a change to a Green Machine stripped steadily within a few metres of any moderately sloping grassy shore soon resulted in a couple of nice browns, with several more missed. Most hits came from about one to three feet of water. As luck would have it, this very fly is featured in the upcoming issue of FlyStream magazine (due out this Sunday.)
The last morning was spent at the southern end of the lake out from Buckenderra. Here we caught some small to medium sized rainbows in stunning condition (this weed thing really might be giving the lake a boost) and one modest brown. As was the pattern all trip, it was a case of persisting for little reward, then a burst of action. The winning flies were an Assassin with a yellow body & red tag on point, then a Scintilla Stick Caddis dropper. We fished from the shore with a slow to moderate retrieve, with the best action occurring near the clay and black soil soaks and bays.
Although the Snowy Mountains rivers close in less than a fortnight, our sense is that this winter on the lakes is looking promising indeed. So read Steve’s ‘Snowy Winter’ in the upcoming issue of FlyStream, rug up, and give Tantangara and Eucumbene a go.