Late Autumn in the Snowy Mountains

There’s something about the Snowy Mountains late in the season – crisp cool air, autumn leaves in full colour and usually, spectacular flyfishing. This inspires me and a few mates to make a last-ditch effort to fish the streams and lakes before winter truly closes in. This trip, we fished three spots: the Eucumbene River, some high country streams and lakes between Kiandra and Khancoban, and finally the Swampy Plains River below Khancoban Pondage.


We spent the first 3 days of the trip fishing the Eucumbene River and the lake itself. Our first day was spent exploring the river near Denison. After recent rain, we were hopeful some lake fish had moved up. However our 5am start found the water levels to be quite low and we weren’t optimistic about what we might find. Nevertheless, we opted to start off French nymphing with a Death Metal tungsten nymph size 12 and orange Glo Bug size 14.

As daylight approached, we found a likely piece of water and it wasn’t long before the nymphing leader shot off and Jack landed himself his first Eucumbene River fish, a 3 pounder. As the day progressed we had some fantastic fishing in bright sunny conditions. We focused on deep, fast-running water and found good numbers of trout between 2 & 4 pounds.

Eucumbene River.

James on the Eucumbene River.

Day two, we chose to fish the upper Eucumbene river around Kiandra in search of a larger fish. Again, the weather was a bright, sunny and quite mild. We spotted some lovely trout and once again the French nymphing technique proved deadly, with again good numbers of fish being caught up to the 5lb mark. The highlight of the day was James landing a 6 pound fish, which was attacked during the fight by a brown that looked twice the size!

The final day was showery and cold, and we fished the flats of Denison with little success. That afternoon, we turned our attention to the lake around the river mouth, and caught a number of small rainbows (1.5lb) on black bead-head Woolly Buggers fished with a short, sharp strip. Toward dusk the temperature dropped and showers increased. We did see some midging fish but with numb hands and a frozen nose, it was time to head back to camp for a spiced rum and shower.


The plan was to spend one day fishing any likely water between Kiandra and Khancoban. After some fun fishing some tiny streams with dries for good numbers of small resident trout, we stopped off at a lake I love to fish, Tumut Pond. After spotting some cruisers off the high wall in bright, sunny and calm conditions it was time to have a crack at this tough lake. The trout were midging, taking pupa on the way up and we sighted good numbers of large fish about 2m below the surface. We scrambled down the steep banks, with one angler spotting and the other fishing. After a few missed attempts, Kiel landed a beautiful 4 pound brown. A short time later a cold wind blew, cloud rolled in and that was the end of the hatch.

Kiel with a big midge feeder from Tumut Pond Reservoir.

Kiel with a big midge feeder from Tumut Pond Reservoir.


The final two days of the trip were spent on the Swampy. After a sleep-in and late breakfast, we discovered the river running high and fast. Even so, we found some softer water along the edges, and that’s what we concentrated on. What happened over the next couple hours was nothing short of flyfishing bliss: multiple hook-ups on trout of 1-2pounds. Most fish were taking a size 14 bead-head Hares Ear Flash-back nymph, suspended 1.5m under a size 14 Parachute Adams. What was surprising given the high water and lateness of the season, was seeing the Parachute Adams taken off the surface at least half a dozen times. We fished the following day with similar success. That arvo as we reluctantly headed back to the car for the long drive home, we agreed it was the hottest fishing we’d seen on the Swampy in years.

One of many fish from two great sessions on the Swampy.

One of many fish from two great sessions on the Swampy.

The Snowy Mountains in late autumn is a fantastic time to fish. Put it in your flyfishing diary for next season.