The whole of the Snowies is like a real-life Microsoft screensaver. Spring rains have driven an exceptional and amazing greening of the landscape. I’ve only been in Australia for 30 years but I don’t remember anything like it. As day follows night, the fishery has responded to all this productivity. Bug activity around lake foreshores and river banks has gone nuts. Clouds of insects invade your nose and mouth, frogs and crickets chorus away in happiness and the snakes are fat and lazy – they don’t really try to get out of your way, which is a little disconcerting!
Having said all that, a glut of food doesn’t always translate into more fish. Being surrounded by midge feeders or termite feeders can be a frustrating thing, especially when so many of them are the dreaded ‘oncers’: they stick their head up to grab a rolling ball of midge and then nothing – the other twenty balls in the adjacent 5 square metres are ignored.
But the fishing has been great. Just check out the Fly Fish Australia website competition results for the NSW/ACT round 1 competition at Buckenderra on 21 and 22 November. The top 13 fishers landed 150 fish over their four x three hour sessions. Craig Dawson got a very impressive 28 of those, almost double the nearest competitor. And they’re not doing what the rest of us do which is to hang around for the evening rise; their sessions are middle of the day, in full sun. And they use barbless hooks. If you’re interested in competition fishing there’s lots of info on the FFA website.
I had a day on the Eucumbene River with Doug. Doug fished dries, and I followed him up with nymphs. Water levels were superb but the fish seemed scarce. We landed one small resident browny each, and a group of 5 other fly fishers managed a rainbow and a small brown. All this in water that looked the best I’ve ever seen it. Normally after high flows you expect the fish to shelter and find their way back. Some of the tide marks from the Spring floods go 100 metres back from the river channel. The sheer volume of water must have pushed those fish around a lot.
Snowy lake levels are all fairly stable. Eucumbene is at 38% and has dropped a small amount. Jindabyne is stable at 78%. Tantangara is heading south at 19%.
For those of you lucky enough to get a trip in before Xmas, think small for evening midge: size 16 or 18 black midge pupa. Mix up the retrieves but they seem to like them being twitched back. Big Griffiths Gnat-style midge balls, down to a size 10 fished on or after dark have been working very well for both browns and rainbows (info from Crazy Trout Hunter Rod Allen).