Snowy Mountains trips with Steve Dunn rarely go to script, but they’re always fun and they usually contain a surprise or two. This April trip was supposed to be a ‘last of the warm weather’ trip when we locked it in back in February; in fact it played out as a start of winter trip, with snow, ice, water temperatures as low as 6 C and dressing in layers.
If there was a headline act for this show, it increasingly looked like it was going to be the big browns of Lake Eucumbene. Steve had been catching these thumpers regularly and without actually saying as much (he’s careful not to anger the fishing gods) it was clear he was quietly confident we’d get a few more.
Well we did – or at least Steve did. Using techniques that deserve a whole article to fully explore, my ‘guide’ caught big browns every time we took the boat out. Various Woolly Buggers, slow retrieves and sinking lines did the job, although there was more to it than that. Even with Steve right beside me in the boat, he ‘believed’ and on some level, I didn’t. In his upcoming FlyStream column, Jim Allen writes passionately about the importance of faith in your fly and despite Steve’s evidence being in my face, my second-guessing and hesitancy meant I couldn’t quite muster this. From the bank, I did okay but from the boat, Steve was the master Jedi and I was the bumbling apprentice.
With Providence Lodge as our idyllic base for the first half of the trip (good to meet fellow flyfishers Heath and Ken there) other options abounded nearby including some fine stream fishing. The Yarrangobilly River in particular proved a perfect foil to the Eucumbene browns’ cryptic ways. Although we drove through snow on the way to the river, the standout fly was a size 12 Stimulator. The weather and water may have felt like winter, but the trout seemed to acknowledge it was only mid-autumn.
In two short trips, we landed dozens of browns and rainbows on dry flies. Most were a fraction the size of the Eucumbene trout, but geez I enjoyed losing track of how many fish we’d caught – no danger of that on the lake!
The last two days didn’t get any warmer but at least the rain and snow backed off. After dropping the boat & bags near Buckenderra, we headed for a few hours on the lovely Moonbah River.
It was the Yarrangobilly all over again – icy 6.8 C water and a chilling breeze, but trout somehow more interested in a Stimulator than a nymph. We caught a dozen, including some very nice stream fish.
We finished up on the Buckenderra Arm of Eucumbene today. A white frost gave way to patches of sun and a light breeze. It almost felt mild around midday. That’s when we found the rainbows – or rather (swigs the truth serum again) Steve found the rainbows, including his Eucumbene rainbow PB. I think he has a mini blog planned about this last part of the trip so he can fill you in.
Meanwhile, it’s been a big day at the end of a big trip and I can hardly keep my eyes open – I’ll no doubt drift off dreaming of snow, huge browns and giant rainbows.