Buckenderra – big fish!

After 4 days of chasing fish with Phil we were both pretty much exhausted and feeling our combined very-close-to-a-century of fishing years.  For the lake part of the trip we’d focused on the top of Lake Eucumbene between Anglers Reach and Providence Flats, because that’s where a lot of big fish are at this time of year.  The Eucumbene River between Providence and the gorge was busy, with spawn run fish moving up the river.


Drifting the margins near Buckanderra

Drifting the margins near Buckenderra

If you read Phil’s blog, the fishing schedule was exhausting (even reading it now makes me want to lie down and rest) and the weather at times was cold and bleak. But the results were brilliant.  At one point we were driving through 4 inches of hail with lightning and thunder crashing and banging all around – at 1550 metres above sea level; then heading for Tumut almost a thousand metres lower in an eerie post storm calm.

So after a session on the Moonbah near Jindabyne I was glad to head to Buckenderra for a last fish and a good night’s sleep before Phil flew home to Melbourne.  Now I confess I hadn’t booked in, so when I called Jana at Buckenderra Holiday Village my heart sank as she explained they’d been fully booked over the ANZAC weekend and didn’t have any cleaned up ready-to-go cabins – but they’d get one ready.  I was so grateful I forgot to mention Phil was with me or to ask for linen so had to call back later and ask for that – and again, nothing was too much trouble, especially not the heater we asked for ahead of a cold night.

We arrived right on dark, threw our gear in the cabin and headed for the lake for an hour – I’m not sure that was our best use of time but well, I never could resist the temptation of an alluring western shoreline with a light south-westerly breeze. But it was literally freezing so I wasn’t too sad when we headed back – even though the conditions were perfect and a few fish were clomping away in the light ripple.

The next morning we had a fairly early start and were on a fishing deadline of 12.30 to get Phil to the airport on time.  Off we set in the boat chasing fish in the bays and inlets opposite Buckenderra, sometimes glassy, but mostly with a bit of ripple.  I’d forecast a bit of fish movement to start at about 10, but the sun stayed hidden and there was no real midge hatch until 11, when the fish came on.

A new PB Lake Eucumbene rainbow

A new PB Lake Eucumbene rainbow – even the fish looks surprised!

We fished intermittently between the boat and the shore and it was almost 11.30 when I got my first hook up.  I was winding in when a fish exploded a rod length from the bank having chased the fly into shore – Phil was watching out of the corner of his eye and thought I’d tripped and fallen in, so big was the splash.  I cursed as the fish chased up and down the bank looking for the lost faux-food before it headed off to the deep – or so I thought. I flicked the slack line onto the water to finish the wind-in when it came back for another go. This time I connected.  What followed was pretty impressive even after all the big fish antics of the trip so far. Down to the backing, aerobatics, and a close encounter with a snag.  Thankfully I was still using the 8.5 lb Rio Fluoromax tippet and eventually I slid the trout into Phil’s weigh net, a cracking 4.5 lb rainbow – a PB for me in Lake Eucumbene. I’m just glad Phil witnessed the whole event because it was otherwise simply unbelieveable. I’d been using the crystal flash black woolly bugger which for me had been the go-to lake-fly all trip, along with a pink trim WB, and a fiery brown WB. A most excellent fly fishermen said to me recently after he’d been there for 2 weeks, and tried everything in his fly repertoire: “most of the fish came to one type of a woolly bugger or another”.The "final" 2 lb of icing on the cake!

The “final” 2 lb of icing on the cake!

If ever there was an end of trip, icing on the cake fish, that was it. But then, ten minutes later a modest 2 lb fish put up another good show – and then we were genuinely rushing for the plane – or was it McDonalds in Cooma?


Snowys Autumn PB rainbow in the mud

My tip for Snowy lake fishing this time of year is that if you’re not on the water, and you haven’t got your fly in it, you’ll miss out. And chase the fish to where they are. If that means sinking the line, or using a bit of shot to get the fly down, then do it. It’s all about commitment, there’s no evening rise to rely on so you just have to be there when they’re hungry; for me, this day, it was between 11.20 a.m and 11.35 am out of a four hour session.

And last comment, clearly not all the big fish are at the top of the lake. Buckenderra is our closest access to Lake Eucumbene from Canberra so don’t drive past it without careful thought.

Tight tippets all,

Steve (Snowy Lakes Fly Fishing Charters – book for spring when I’ve recovered from shoulder surgery)