Probably Australia’s most fished trout river (anglers/kilometre/year) has rested for nearly three months. The opening weekend on the Eucumbene River is always expected to be a lot of fun, but often doesn’t live up to those expectations. However I always try to go up and see what’s going on, and try to be prepared. Andrew and I did a reconnaissance on the Friday night, heading up past Sawyers Hut through a blizzard, dodging snow ploughs and vehicles in ditches to find the Eucumbene River at the top of the bank careering past the Kiandra Bridge like a steam train on steroids. All I could think of was where were the fish going to be – and where were my big splitshot?
We left Adaminaby at 5.45 am on Saturday morning but we weren’t the first at the bridge. I had my eye on a spot about 100 metres downstream where the torrent broke away from the bridge pool into an eddy where there was some slack water I thought might be fishable. There were footsteps in the snow from the first arrivers, right to the spot – but they’d headed upstream and it didn’t look like they’d fished here. First cast, whammo! For Andrew, a few casts more and he was on. And so it continued. Not all action but frequent enough to keep us interested and excited.
The Eucumbene River downstream of the Kiandra Road Bridge
During a 5 hour session we walked from the bridge to the gorge and back, every step through virgin snow. It was truly magical and we had the place to ourselves until late morning when others arrived en masse. Bizarrely, at one spot on the edge of the bank was an artificial flower, a Marigold. We caught more fish standing by that Marigold than any other spot and it became difficult to trick Andrew away from it.
Sunday was a different day, the sun shone, the water had dropped a bit and we fished upstream from the bridge with moderate success. Mostly spawn run recovering rainbows. There were flyfishers and spin fishers everywhere; some truly unusual techniques being used which would have reinvented the way we considered fish behaviour if they’d actually caught anything. Plenty of fishers who thought it was okay to fish on the opposite bank, or 5 metres downstream as long as they didn’t make eye contact.
Monday was back to true form. The Sharks had won, but we were still on the river by 6 am in freezing horizontal rain. The river was even higher, had broken its bank in several spots, and it was 150 metres wide and completely covered the track at one point. I’ve never seen the river like that and it was truly impressive. Fishing got tougher. I landed a few; Andrew dropped a couple out of an eddy near a torrent that just stuck their heads into the current once hooked and ripped off line before either straightening hooks or just finding another way to gain freedom.
It really didn’t matter, it had been a great weekend, and the weather kept everyone else away. As I walked back to the bridge in the late morning a procession of four wheel drives, camper trailers and boats were heading west, bailing out, disheartened by the conditions. “Tell‘em they don’t know what they’re missing,” I thought. One last hook up in the bridge pool as someone came over in the now brightening day to ask how we’d done. He had no intention of fishing again, and was heading home.
About half our fish were on Glo-bugs; the rest on a mix of nymphs – with tungsten of course. I was using 3 or 4 of the largest split shot, and have a new right ear piercing (and a headache) as a result of a wind gust and mistimed cast.
Back on the lake/river tomorrow and hanging around all weekend. Eucumbene is at 53% and rising; Tantangara at an almost all time high of 67%, and Jindabyne at 81%. Fishing reports have been scarce which I think is mainly due to the weather.
Tight tippets all
Steve (Snowy Lake Charters)