Frying Pan, Lake Eucumbene

Yabby beds attract cruising browns.

After a few days dawn to dusk fishing with Phil, my blog is always a short postscript to his graphic and concise descriptions of our adventures that rarely lack firsts and surprises – not least of all an introduction to Nungar man – and where every well-chosen spot delivered the goods of either missed opportunity or fish in the net. On this trip my hit to hook-up conversion mojo was low but I enjoyed watching Phil diligently applying his craft in a typically workmanlike manner, and as my brother would state, “Not another picture of you with a big fish!”

Anyway, on these trips the hardest potential fishing spot to pick is always on the final morning as we head to Canberra. We always try to squeeze in “just one more session”, but it has to be on the way, somewhere on Lake Eucumbene between Adaminaby and Cooma. Once, on a “looks like a buggy day” we hit Middlingbank on a red-letter-day midge hatch, landing over 30 rainbows in our two hour morning session. Now this was some time ago when Eucumbene was in a boom phase, but we’ve set a high bar. For this trip I chose Frying Pan. The lake of course isn’t at Frying Pan as such – even though the lake is at 37% up from its low a few weeks ago of 33% – it’s a long drive down the Frying Pan Arm, past Rushy, and just a stone’s throw from Wallace Island and O’Neills. The causeway over the creek means you can cross the soak to the southern side which was great to get the westerly over my right shoulder. The walk to the lake edge was littered with yabby claws, there must be thousands of them when you can count ten in a few square metres.

The first sign of action was a whoop and a curse from two flyfishers half a mile away (across the lake on the northern shore) as they hooked and then dropped a fish before I started my ongoing count of hits with no hook-ups. After a few of these (one of which was a lunging brown that grabbed the fly close to the bank) Phil was on my shoulder pricking his finger to make sure the hook was sharp. But I finally landed one, then missed another, and another – each on for just long enough Phil said, for him to drop his rod and get his camera out. Then I landed another beautiful rainbow – and then just continued to miss more. Meanwhile, Phil was graciously not trying too hard. Maybe he couldn’t concentrate after his glowing performance the previous day. A mid-size black Woolly Bugger did some damage, with a green Magoo close behind.

Fishing in the Sahara – but check out that yabby clay!

Now, I wasn’t going to write this because I should have posted 2 days ago but technology failed; so there’s a post-postscript; we went back again on Tuesday. And what a difference a day makes. Gone was the gentle westerly, replaced with 50 km/h winds (with much stronger gusts) tanking down the arm. A forecast I’d chosen to ignore as weatherman pessimism. The waves were intimidating enough, but the sandstorms were blinding. Somewhere out there I knew Col was fishing so I decided to go for a look and found him wrapping up and heading home. As he walked down the bank he just disappeared in the sandstorm, it was truly surreal! Another half an hour and Phil emerged out of the same sandstorm as it was going through a lull. Later we went to check out Middlingbank but it was enveloped. At the crossroads we got out of our waders and the air was thick with smoke. On the distant ranges we could see more fires burning. Did I mention the air temperature at the lake was 18 degrees?

On the weekend I’d walked past someone in Adaminaby and they’d mumbled, “that wind has knives in it”, and never were truer words spoken. So now I have a few days to let the wounds recover which is probably a good idea, especially with yet more snow falling to lake level – even a blizzard before the weekend.

On a very high note I have a good feeling that it’s going to be a better than average rainbow year on Eucumbene. If not numbers then certainly quality; there are some chunky fish to be caught.  Lake levels are looking better with Eucumbene at 37% and rising and Mount Jagungal (pictured left) has plenty of snowmelt to keep up the pressure. Jindabyne is rising at 76%; Tantangara is up and down at 31.6%. Water temperatures are cold – Eucumbene is between 7 and 7.7 degrees; and Tantangara between 5 and 6 degrees, but even with those temperatures, when the sun comes out there are already a few midge, stone flies, and crane flies around.

Tight tippets all,

Steve (Snowy Lake Fly Fishing Charters)