Hopper and Beetle Time, Snowy Streams PT 1

Good friend and long-time Crazy Trout Hunter, Darren, joined me and my father Rod for the beginning of a 7 day flyfishing adventure around the Snowy Mountains, based from my home in Cooma. We packed the necessary goods for an overnight mission, including fly boxes loaded with hoppers and beetles. Daz was full of excitement as we told him what he could expect, and after an early night, by 5.45 am we were on the Snowy Mountains Highway. We resisted the urge to stop at Kiandra and pushed on to our first destination, a nice little spring-fed creek flowing through an alpine meadow.

We rigged our twigs with favourite hopper and beetle patterns, and set about fishing virtually at the car. Instantly, Daz was into his first fish, a beautiful little ‘bow. We continued on, getting rises in every likely spot. Going fish for fish, it didn’t take long before it was my turn again. I lifted into a delicate sip, and immediately noticed something different about the trout on the end. A brookie! It put up a terrific fight and proved to be a very good size for an Australian stream brook trout at around a pound in weight.

High country brook trout.

High country brook trout.

We fished on for many more brookies, and soon decided to step it up with huge foam hoppers, cast only to the deeper, darker undercuts. The tactic paid off with a larger-than-average trout coming to the fly. We left this stream feeling very satisfied, and tuned up for more dry fly fun.


The next destination was an unknown and we weren’t even sure if it was a worthwhile prospect. Nevertheless, our CTH instincts pushed us to investigate the deep, dark holes below the towering Tooma dam wall. We began the steep trek down to the Tooma River, dodging the odd tiger snake as we went. Once at the river, we marvelled at the water clarity despite the limited flow, and we quickly discovered an amazing population of wild rainbows. Trout of all sizes cruised the pools. However, we soon learnt they would scatter at the slightest movement, even when facing away! The upside was, all the fish cruised a beat, so it was a matter of waiting until the target swam off, placing your fly exactly where it had been, then waiting for it to return. After closely inspecting the waiting fly, most would gently sip it in. Daz had a ball employing this stealthy method, landing or dropping some beautifully-marked rainbows.


With evening approaching, we made the steep climb back up to the lake behind the dam and set up camp. Unfortunately, this hydro storage had dropped some 30ft since I’d scoped it out a week earlier, and the large fish I’d seen cruising the edges then, had been replaced by hundreds of tiddlers. After a few missed littlies, we decided to call it a day.

Day two had us awake early – something about the air up here! We drove down to Khancoban for a cuppa, before heading back into the mountains and our first stop for the day, Bogong Creek. This delightful stream is set in a deep valley, so the sun doesn’t really hit it until mid-morning. That’s about when the hoppers and beetles appear. At summer flow, short line dry fly fishing here is very enjoyable, and it wasn’t long before we all had a nice little brown each, completing our respective species trifecta for the trip – and it wasn’t even lunchtime on our second day! We also noted that the number of fingerlings in the creek was very encouraging. Every step sent scores of them scuttling away under rocks, pointing to a very successful year of natural recruitment.


We drove on to our next stream, the upper Swampy Plains River. As soon as the car stopped, Dad was the out and heading over to have a look off the bridge. There were beetles hovering everywhere and Dad was soon jogging back to the car (he doesn’t run very often these days!) to tell us there were fish all over the river eating beetles.

A browny to make up the Snowy species trifecta.

A brownie to make up the Snowy species trifecta.

There was no secret to the fishing; we just waded three across up the river, going cast for cast with beetle patterns,  catching trout of varying sizes one after the other. While none were huge, all were unbelievable fighters. Once again, around the rocks on the bottom, the Swampy teemed with baby trout.


We decided to make our last stop for the day the Thredbo River around Cascades. This proved to be a great idea. The fishing was totally different, mainly pocket water, with lots of small, highly oxygenated pools among the boulders. The fishing was as good as you would hope for, with scenery that forces you to stop and take it in. We caught scores of small trout, while the odd surprise came out from cover to shock the angler! I went a bit ‘out there’ and tied on a huge spun deer hair cicada. It looked like a boat on the small pools, but right on dark, a beauty accepted it and just as quickly busted me off! Time to head home to a nice bed and a decent sleep before the next adventure – the upper Snowy River and nearby creeks.

Postscript: Something I should mention – it seems to have been a boom year for the local wildlife as well as the trout. So if travelling between dusk and dawn, it’s worth driving a little slower than the speed limit to avoid hitting anything.