May in the Mountains

Eucumbene River low autumn flows

Eucumbene River low autumn flows.

There is something about the mountain country at the beginning of May. For much of the year the countryside transitions from Canberra to Cooma and onwards, with vegetation becoming progressively sparser, and colours lightening in shades of green or burnt brown depending on the season, with the southerly progression. But for just a few weeks each year the landscape is dominated by autumn colours.  Reds, yellows, orange, gold, and browns all merge in a spectacular once-a-year display. As you drive, poplars dominate the tree-scape but they are not alone. Maples, oaks, apples and many more deciduous trees transitioning to winter all draw the eye. As you approach Adaminaby passing the golf course and flying club, especially in the early morning, the town glows an ethereal welcome.

Tantangara Brumbies on the move

Tantangara Brumbies on the move

Everything in nature is preparing for winter. A red-belly black snake refuses to give up its position in the midday sun as if charging its batteries one last time before slinking into a hole for the long sleep. Streamside, the blackberry leaves stand out as the last bit of greenery; brumbies feed hard for the long nights coming; and the surface of river pools are disturbed by the movement of spawning browns as if some monster is flexing its muscles in the dark waters. That’s what we want to see. Standing on a high rock looking through the surface, big fish holding gracefully in the calm tails of pools, soaking up the oxygen-rich water waiting for a safe time to run upstream with the first scent of rain.20170507_091108_resized

The weekend was a mixed bag of hard and imaginative fishing effort. We fished the Eucumbene River amongst the handfuls of lure fishers and glo buggers with no real success. A small rainbow started the day quickly, but it wasn’t until a few hours later that another was hooked – and then dropped. River levels are low and the first flush of spawn run fish, after the rain two weeks ago, have spread out and moved up. Some more fish move in every night but many are still hanging back.


We fished the Murrumbidgee River which was loving a Montane stream water release from Tantangara and caught two beautifully conditioned browns – then moved onto Tantangara to fish the eastern shore in a north westerly wind that was stirring the muddy shore. A good rainbow very quickly got our blood pumping but like the optimistic early river rainbow, two hours passed quickly with only a couple more taps from half-hearted fish. We headed home to get the boat and fish the lake at Providence through the change of light. A good call, and a nice brown rounded of an otherwise middling day.20170507_145154_resized

The next day we were on the lake at dawn and it was freezing. Both my passengers were chilled as we motored at speed up the lake trying all the usual likely spots without success. We fished hard and long through to the early afternoon before finally finding a patch of shallow weedy yabby bed with several fish cruising around. More than half the fish for the day, in less than a quarter of the time, and three of them browns between 3+ and 5+ lbs.

Lake Eucumbene has dropped from 46.6% to 45.5% in two weeks and this is noticeable most, of course, at Providence where the risks of a bogged boat launching event increase every day. I think I’ll be rugging up and driving the boat up from Anglers Reach for the rest of this season.

Double hook up of big browns

Double hook up of big browns

For those worried about the crowds, they’re not here yet. Like the fish, I suspect they’re waiting for some rain.

Tight tippets all

Cheers, Steve (Snowy Lake Fly Fishing Charters)