Icy start to Snowy Lakes winter

Polaroiding with hopper patterns, and winter seemed way off.

Winter arrived with little warning: a surreal note in the forecast about a coming polar blast, given the sunny day we were enjoying on Lake Eucumbene. Then two days later, a foot of snow and -9 degrees. The ski resorts are saying it’s their best start-of-season for 20 years, and although they always seem to say that, this time the stats show it might be true.

Last time I fished with Hudson he was probably a year too young but 12 months on, he had way more patience and just a little more willingness to follow directions.

The top of the lake has been a bit busy so we headed towards the Eucumbene dam wall to polaroid a few fish on the deep-water petrified forest banks. Hudson and I fished off the boat while his dad, David, chased browns up and down the bank. For late May there were incredible numbers of hoppers on the banks and still a lot of interest from the trout towards big hopper patterns.

Once the sunlight got a bit low, we looked for some flats water to strip big wets. As soon as we pulled up we were surrounded by midge feeding rainbows. We got a few of these but we were really there for the browns. They’ll pretty much eat anything at this time of year and are in amazing condition.

Just few days after, when the snow fell, I took a walk up the Eucumbene River with photographer mate Mark. The scenery was spectacular. I’ve always enjoyed walking first through virgin snow, and following the animal tracks. Dog, deer, mouse, wombat, and roos. It was a surreal landscape and so peaceful.

And a few days on…

Later we walked around the Portal to get to the top of the lake and followed a set of human tracks. Size 14 plus boots, a 1.2 metre pace, and splay-footed. They were going in the same direction and there were no return tracks so quite what happened to this massive humanoid (or booted Yowie) remains a mystery.

The river closes on the Long Weekend on 13 June, so the trout can enjoy almost a four month rest from the hordes. With all this rain and snow, conditions are perfect for good recruitment, supported by the absence this year (so far) of big flocks of cormorants and pelicans.

Lake levels

Lake Eucumbene has been dropping like a stone, down from 47% in early May, to 41.5% in 7 June, although it has flattened out in the last few days. I am confidently predicting we will crack 50% by November, so once again we will be fishing on ground that hasn’t seen water for several years.

Lake Jindabyne has also dropped a bit, from being in the trees at the caravan park, back to 92%. Rod Allen from Crazytrouthunterz has been working the steep banks on the western shore of Jindabyne and catching some cracking fish in deep water on midge and small nymphs. We’d been talking about indicator fishing so he decided to give it a go, with a lot of success.

Tantangara Reservoir has been rising rapidly with with high inflows, despite the Portal being open to Lake Eucumbene. More water is going in than leaving, and it’s currently at 21%. The tunnel works for Snowy 2.0 are still going flat out with a lot of vehicle and plant movement on the road, so care is needed if you’re driving in. 

On the back of such great conditions, these three lakes should offer some of the best winter fishing for many years. Just be sure to dress for the cold!

A roaring and snow-shrouded Providence Portal.