Well, after four long months the NSW trout stream season has opened in the Snowies. For the second opening in a row we fished the Eucumbene River from Four Mile Creek to Kiandra for very few fish – in fact this year precisely none. Not to be deterred we hiked down the mountain from the Bullock Hill Fire Trail to Tantangara Creek, for the same result – at about which time we changed our mission objective from catch a fish to find the fish. All those glo-bug and nymph variations and combos tried and failed. I think we even tried some tungsten bead streamers in the deeper pools.
One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that early season fishing quality and quantity in the Eucumbene River is really river flow dependent. This year the flow is low; not summer levels, but low for spring. If there are fish in the tributaries, this means they haven’t had much incentive to move out yet. So that’s where we started with a look and listen strategy. We looked at several creeks, and asked about those we knew were being fished by others. Swamp Creek, Alpine Creek, Gang Gang Creek, Rocky Plain Creek, Hughes Creek and Tollbar Creek, and sure enough for those persistent enough to work small water hard, there were fish to be caught. The quality of fishing is easily determined by the movement of 4WD vehicles between favourite spots. I’d love to GPS map them all and watch as they go from favourite spot to favourite spot, desperate to find the fish. All Saturday, we saw the same vehicles driving frantically around, with a particularly large assembly at Providence Portal. Here, there was earnest consideration of the options to cross the river to access the 5 kms of high-flow river downstream as the Portal dumps Tantangara Reservoir into Lake Eucumbene.
The long weekend Sunday is my favourite day. Worn out from the Saturday of fishing and hungover from the grand finals – victories or losses – it’s as if the planet has been evacuated for urgent trout fishing on Mars! At the Old Adaminaby boat ramp there was one boat trailer and I’m pretty sure that had over-nighted. As we were leaving the ramp, the other lake charter boat turned up. Off for a spot of trolling.
The lake of course is very low which is why there’s so much extra river at the top, and it’s not hard to find some really fishy water with plenty of polaroiding potential and associated small creeks. Navigating through the timber is not for the faint-hearted, but then, the rewards are there.
Anyway, after two long days we definitely felt the fish took the trophy, but like all good teams we’ll bounce back. Another season of training, and maybe the low lakes will do something to rebuild our clearly depleted stocks.
My reporters from the Thredbo tell me things were not much better over there, and said thanks for sending all the Eucumbene fishermen their way as the weekend progressed! The Monaro streams gave much better reports, with bountiful big fat browns. There’s no doubt those waters have had a good bounce in the last few years and we all hope the drought conditions will abate before it slips backwards too far.
Lake levels are up and down. Tantangara is crashing with the portal open, currently at 48% so expect sulky fish. Eucumbene is rising steadily up from a winter low of 18.5% to 21.5%. No one is seriously expecting a peak lake level much above 30% this year. Last year’s winter-through-spring top-up was just 13% to a maximum of 46% and this year the drought has intensified. Whilst the El Nino prediction is neutral, the Bureau of Meteorology states the “October to December climate outlook indicates parts of eastern and southern Australia are likely to be drier than average”.
Jindabyne is rising nicely, up to 69% already.