Eucumbene update

Emerging tree tops

Emerging tree tops

Well, it’s ANZAC day and I’m in Tonga. Ninety-four men from Tonga signed up to fight with the Australian and New Zealand forces in the Great War and eleven died. The cenotaph recording their names is near the Palace in the capital Nuku’alofa where a dawn service is held. If I was at home I would probably have been in Adaminaby where the cenotaph is at the village hall; a good crowd always turns out to remember. I would have gone for a reflective fish, and thanked those who have made that all possible. It could have all been so different.

On lighter matters, Lake Eucumbene continues its downward trajectory and is now at 39% compared with 54% this time last year. Every week, new riverbed pools emerge from the mud as what was once lake now becomes river.  The lake proper now starts 500 metres downstream from the Providence Portal. And there is excellent loch style fishing the “new” flats once you get around the corner towards Anglers – about 1 kilometre from the portal. The muddy lake bottom is clearly visible in the shallows and is pock marked with yabby holes, the residents giving away their presence with little puffs of sediment as you drift near their home.


I fished earlier in the week with Joe and Tyson. We launched at Anglers Reach and made our way through the drowned timber some of which is treacherously close to the surface.  The flats were quite busy with 3 or 4 boats fly fishing and a couple more trolling. During the day we anchored, and drifted, but the best results were casting to fish holding right against the bank. Surprisingly the catch was dominated with hard fighting rainbows.  Whilst we saw some very big fish (clearly browns) rolling around on the surface, including several right by the boat, those particular fish were evasive.IMG_0882

We fished a variety of wets on intermediate lines.  Orange fluoro and brass bead nymphs of various types, Woolly Worms, and of course Woolly Buggers – and of course the Woolly Buggers did the damage, especially the fiery brown variety.  Some of the takes were soft but most were self-hooking slams. Tyson, who does a lot of bass fishing really gave the Sage One a workout, successfully hanging on to fish I would have let run; enough to make my heart stop, and to be thankful for some good 2X tippet!


We didn’t see any big fish caught, but we did see big fish. Earlier in the week I’d been busted off – again – by a good fish when out with Col. Another one to add to my heart-break list. Into the backing after a lunging out-of-control run and a leap, and a crack-off. Again. Principal advisor Weigall thinks I need to hang onto the fish and not let it get up momentum, and there’s a lot to that. A big fish, once it’s flying, can exert the kind of forces no tippet can stand – especially when there’s 30 metres of intermediate line underwater behind it. Time to get back to the gym then!

My crystal ball says the 4 May will bring some nice fish up to the top of the lake and into the river after rain the previous day or two.  It’s an auspicious date – my mum’s 80th birthday.

Next trip is to the UK for a bit of work, and of course an opportunity to check out some old angling haunts. Top of my list is Chew Magna near Bristol.

The new "flats"

The new “flats”

A quick safety note. The lake changes daily. There is a lot of just-subsurface timber in what was a safe channel up the lake from Anglers Reach just a few weeks ago – so keep a good look out, especially in the evenings. The water’s cooling – 16 degrees at the surface.  The mud at the top of the river is also like quick sand, especially where the portal dumped thousands of tonnes of fresh shale on top of lake sediment – a tricky little crust that just about holds your weight before you’re suddenly up to your thighs in it and crawling out of the mud.

Tight tippets

Steve (Fly fishing charters on Snowy Lakes CLICK)