Snowies early season report

A well earned Eucumbene rainbow

The phone rings off the hook; a stream of sources calling with information – or wanting information. This flyfishing lark is a real game of collective intel; a good analyst would have an app to validate and check it all.  Networks of flyfishers email, text, Facebook their catches and locations, top flies, river conditions and lake levels. Some people even have time to blog about it! You piece it all together, random data from any one person, repeated and reinforced by others, the pressure builds and you have to get up and go – before it’s too late. “It’s going off!”they say. Frying pan; Providence; Tantangara western shore; the worm fishermen are braining ’em (literally); the boats are bringing in fish boxes full; the Upper Murrumbidgee; Seven Gates; Rushy…. I even had a good report from Jindabyne recently, just one or two, but reliable info that suggests things are on the up.

I can’t think of anything I’d rather catch, or anywhere I’d rather be.

So, piecing all this together after two weeks of the new river season, here’s an update. The very first thing is that the Eucumbene River 2017 is a different river than 2016. The first few weeks of 2016 were epic; the first two weeks of 2017 it’s as if there was no spawn run and the fish we’re catching are just the resident rainbows that were there in June. This isn’t just me, it’s based on hundreds of reports. Now, this doesn’t mean the fishing is bad, it’s just not as epic as last year. The advice: work the pools hard, mix up techniques and flies, and you will still catch fish. There’s a stack of superb water, just be prepared to work hard; and being the first on the water doesn’t necessarily get you the fish. Once the water gets the sun on it the bugs start up. Stoneflies, midge, caddis, even the odd mayfly.

With fishing not as easy as last year (and with a fair bit of competition for space on the busy river), we’ve gone hunting for fish in the Eucumbene’s feeder creeks. They’ve had really good numbers of 1 to 2 lb rainbows, with the occasional bigger one, and the odd brown. Swamp and Hughes Creeks in particular have now been fished really hard and the numbers have thinned out dramatically with the fishing pressure, and as they finish their work and drop back towards the lake. The fish are always there at this time of year, but they get a break when the big river is fishing well; now they’re getting hammered whilst the fish are on the redds (guilty as charged); these creeks should be given an extra few weeks of closure in my view. A long walk around Kiandra got us some mid-week, mid-size rainbows.

Lake Eucumbene has been a typical early season mixed bag. It’s been rising quickly and worm fishing has been productive. I had a half day boat session in Rushy early in the week without any success – but it looked amazing.

My reports from Jindabyne and Thredbo haven’t included any surprises. Good fishermen have caught fish, but others have struggled. Numbers of fish have been unspectacular, but it’s been easier than Eucumbene to find some peace and quiet. The lake at Jindabyne doesn’t go up and down as much as Eucumbene so I get the impression it’s not as tricky to figure out, and maybe the fish don’t move around quite as much without the big lake-level fluctuations perhaps  allowing some spots to fish in a more consistent way.

Tantangara Reservoir was a campsite over the long weekend but the Freefolk have thinned out a bit now. Some of my favourite bank fishing spots were being trolled, with boats coming past at frequent intervals – close enough for a quietly shouted “g’day”. Boat fishing was fun although not as hot as a few weeks earlier when the lake was rising and had just started to fall. We walked a few kilometres up Nungar Creek and didn’t spot one fish even though it looked incredible.

Small creeks have been really productive – although this one was the exception

The Upper Murrumbidgee and Tantangara Creek have dished up some good fish and a heap of good reports. The crazytrouthunters seem to have had the same experiences I’ve had.

All in all, a good if not spectacular fishing start, with magnificent weather. Flies? The Adaminaby Angler caught a 4lb brown on a Wullf pattern up a small creek, but dry fly fishing is still a bit hit and miss – but it you see a rise, change up. Hiking through some nearby tussock I saw a few hoppers (already). Small weighted bead-head nymphs duo’d under an indicator fly where the water is slow, otherwise bomb the depths with tungsten bead nymphs to get your flies down in front of their noses, either short-line nymphing or under a big indicator. Don’t be shy about using a glo bug for the next few weeks, there are still spawning fish and every trout gets turned on by orange when there are eggs floating in the current.

Lake Eucumbene is at 41.5% and rising steadily; Lake Jindabyne is at 79.6% and rising; Tantangara is at 20.55%, the portal to Eucumbene is closed so Tant’s rising just a smidge (this time last year it was at 70%, just below its peak of 71.4%) – what a difference a year makes! I had an interesting chat with Snowy Hydro during the week. If you haven’t been to the visitor centre in Cooma, check out the TV screen on the left as you walk in. It streams live information about all water movements right through the system. The same data hydro employees get on their mobile devices. What do we get? About 10% of what’s available. I complain, I write about it, I talk to people nicely – the latest excuse (even though anyone can see it in the visitor centre) is that the kayakers could see it and they could hurt themselves if they knew where and when the releases were occurring. Really?

  • A sour note to the beginning of the season has been the amount of bait fishing detritus on the river banks. A reminder. There’s no bait fishing on the Eucumbene River. What do we do to these moonbaiters? I mean c’mon, even when they’re breaking the law they leave their rubbish behind – feeding the stereotypical image. 

Tight tippets all.

Steve (Snowy Lakes Fly Fishing Charters)