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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 http://nakedtrout.com.au/stuff/charter/
Caddigat Lakes http://nakedtrout.com.au/stuff/caddigat/