Shucks, that was a good trip!

Mudeye shucks

Mudeye shucks and a falling lake weed indicator

Every charter brings challenges. Sometimes it’s the fish, sometimes the fishers, or the weather, or the lake. Occasionally all the ducks line up in our favour and so it was this week with a two day trip to Lake Eucumbene and Caddigat Lake. Light winds, a cooling lake, overcast, and a good team onboard.  As a rule we only fish 2 rods from the boat so with three brothers, Ben, Sam and Tim from rural Victoria, one was going to have to be patient and wait for the rotation – or fish the bank. The Brothers

We launched at Providence heading south towards Anglers Reach and found a sheltered bay out of the moderate south easterly breeze, using the electric motor to cruise through some timber and work the banks for fish close in.  This is without doubt my favourite form of boat fishing.  Working steadily along the bank – it’s stealth fishing – creeping up on fish that are hanging against the bank waiting for something edible to drop into their field of vision. Almost by virtue of the fact the fish are there, right against the bank, means they will have a go at a wide range of standard food flies – they are hungry and waiting.  These are the fish you spook when you’re walking the banks; evidenced by the boil of water or the puff of sediment where the fish was before it spotted you.

Tim onto his first fish

Tim onto his first fish

The first hook up was a nice rainbow – always a relief when the first fish is in the net – Tim pulled it out from right alongside the bank with the fly still on the hang right after the cast. The bay should be called one-fish-bay because it tends to reliably give up one fish – but never two – so we headed up to Providence to drift across the flats.  The wind was fluky and blew us up and down the lake, but ultimately in a generally north westerly direction. The weed was moderately annoying with maybe 1 in 3 casts picking up floating weed on the retrieve, a lot more weed than the last trip and at least partly due to the 1% drop in lake level – which translated to about a 40 centimetre vertical fall looking at the tide line.

Tim brown

Tim pulled the fish-of-the-trip out of one drift. Again with the fly on the hang, a spectacular conditioned 3 lb brown sucked down a stick caddis.  The boys were camping up at Denison so this one was taken for dinner. It turned out to be stuffed full of small conical snails; thousands of them.  The fish must have been hoovering them up from the weed.

We ended the evening on a wind friendly bank with a good late rise of what appeared to be mostly junior burgers. Every rock, tree, and blade of grass along the bank was covered in mud eye shucks from previous evenings’ hatches.   Right on dark Ben hooked into a lunging brown, but no happy ending this time.Tim - rainbow -

The next day we fished Caddigat Lake which is at 100% and spilling.  There were fish rising in the spillway channel when we got there, always a good sign.

Sam first fish on fly

We fished the lake hard using the electric for the whole session working all the banks.  The steep northern shore got us our first fish – Sam’s first on a fly – just as we finished a run and were turning back for another go over the same patch of deep water.  The sounder showed huge schools of bait fish (I think gambusia) hanging on the drop off which matched up well with the big blingy buggers we were throwing around.

Sam first rainbow on fly

Next up was Tim with a good 4 lber, leaving only Ben to break his duck on this lake. There are a few hot spots and I pointed one out. A small indent in the bank next to a gully, with some timber lying alongside. I would have chucked the fly right into the gully but Ben had been casting at structure all trip (like a bass fisherman) and aimed right at the timber, and was on.  As the fish came towards the boat I knew it didn’t know it was hooked. It was a big fish and wouldn’t be steered. It swam right under the boat and kept on swimming.  Then it figured it out, panicked, and went aerial a rod length from the boat. It was a rainbow and well over 5 lb with the fish a metre out of the water I prayed Ben had softened his hands as the fish slammed back into the lake. It was still on, but then it wasn’t, and the stick caddis on the dropper was straight!

Ben rainbow

As the lake narrowed towards Caddigat Creek we saw a few fish rising which gave us a bit of target practice but no fish.  We ended the session fishing the spillway channel (which I don’t usually do) and hooked up 2 fish – one of which broke the 8.5 lb tippet – the other which ended up in the net, from Ben’s rod – his first.

Eucumbene lake level is down 1% at 56%; Jindabyne steady at 82%; and Tantangara up a smidge at 30% – the best year for steady lake levels forever. The fishing will just keep on getting better!

As a post script to this blog Ben got his monster, night fishing on Eucumbene. s Bens Brown

John's Caravan

John’s Caravan

As I drove up from the boat and past the old farm buildings I saw the old caravan sitting on top of the ridge overlooking the Murrumbidgee River.  This caravan was home for John Pene when he worked at the trout farm many years ago.  John, known locally as “Johnny Scrubworm” passed away recently, peacefully at his home. John was a great local character. A big Maori who’d spent most of his adult life in Australia he was an excellent singer and musician and played in bands throughout the Snowies for many years. He’d worked in the tuna fishery, pole and lining for bluefin tuna during the fishery’s heyday, and was an excellent diver. I first met him in 1999 when we were working on the first Snowy Lakes Trout Strategy. To be honest he gave me a hard time during a public consultation at the Cooma RSL – but afterwards he was a gentleman and said sorry and we became firm friends.  He was an excellent mudeye catcher and could often be seen in his chest waders trawling farm dams next to the Snowy Mountains Highway with his jalopy Ford wagon parked on the verge. And he supplied excellent worms. I can’t share his secrets on worm habitat and supply – but he did share them with me. Every year he still worked at the trout farm in Tumut, stripping fish for eggs, and he was an expert.  A man truly in his natural environment. In recent years, arthritis, gout, and a hernia all cramped his fly fishing, but he still fished big flies (Mrs Simpson and Taihapi tickler) under a bubble float fished with an egg beater and a 13 foot Loomis steelhead rod. He could cast it well over 50 metres and slow retrieved it with spectacular success. His funeral was this week in Pambula.  Vale John Pene, a life fully lived.

Tight tippets all


Snowy Lake Charters

Caddigat Lakes