Mid winter Tantangara


Will there be a snowy lake at the end of the road?

Will there be a snowy lake at the end of the road?

An overly warm Thursday winter’s morning in Adaminaby. Maybe a little too much breeze. A dejected looking Lake Eucumbene with muddy scars for banks. I know, I’ll go to Tantangara! I haven’t been there since the boat ramp was revamped by the Snowy 2.0 feasibility study and with the lake creeping up, I wanted to know at what lake level the turning circle would disappear; once it’s underwater, I have to reverse all the way from the top.20170810_133018_resized_1

By the time I reached the Tantangara turnoff from the Snowy Mountains Highway, there was a fair amount of snow around and I half hoped there would be snow around the lake; a kilometre into the road and I was sliding around in 30 centimetres of snow with not much evidence of heavy road use. It all looked pretty magical to be honest.

When you first see the lake you can pretty much always figure out your game plan. The wind was scooting down the lake from the north-west with waves hitting the dam wall, but leaving a couple of kilometres of the western shore calm and sheltered. I drove down to the boat ramp and with the lake level at 34%, the waves were lapping the turning circle; at 35% it will be submerged. So what then? Maybe Snowy 2 will increase the size of the turning circle halfway down the hill?

The revamped Tantangara boat ramp at 34%

The revamped Tantangara boat ramp at 34%.

Mission 1 accomplished, I set off to the weather station, parked and walked across the creek to the western shore. It was already early afternoon, later than I’d planned and I was already casting a shadow towards the water so I decided to walk up and fish back. A good plan until I spotted a chunky fish 5 minutes in, right against the bank.

Westerly blowing onto the dam wall

Westerly blowing onto the dam wall.

A rainbow from the black edge around its tail. It was hunting; darting around a metre from the shore. I plopped a flashback nymph a foot or so behind it and it turned and inspected. I lifted the fly out of the water and the fish flared up and hunted around looking for its stolen lunch. I dropped the nymph back on the water and the fish dutifully inhaled it. A few happy moments of mayhem followed before it spat the fly and disappeared across the shallows.

Time was tight so I walked another kilometre and started to fish back. The wind swung into the north, reducing the chance of sighting fish, so I blind fished the nymph and a stick caddis, hooking and losing one more, and hitting a couple more. I felt rushed but after a couple of hours also felt happy to have been there. Bizarrely, when I arrived it was 13 degrees and the wind was warm; when I left, the sun was dipping over the hills and it was still 9 degrees. I really did not think I would be fishing in a T shirt and a shell jacket in midwinter at Tantangara.

Falling into winter shadow but still 9 degrees

Falling into winter shadow but still 9 degrees.

The lake looks amazing; the water is in the grass which seems to be growing – again unusual for this time of year. The brumbies came down to the lake behind me. A red robin followed me down the bank with his less colourful partner. I just wished I’d worried less about covering so much water and perhaps picked one or two good spots and worked them harder.

Tight tippets all – and head for Tantangara, just take it easy on the road…. (Snowy Lake Fly Fishing Charters)