Snowies Report – lakes, plus final weeks on the rivers

Early morning starts this time of year can chill the bones, but are worth the effort.

The Eucumbene River and Thredbo River end-of-season brown trout runs are in full swing. The swingers of UV nymphs and Glo-bugs weighted with hefty split shot, are competing with the hard body lure draggers and drift riggers for water space. Normal was yesterday, this is today. For those sensitive souls just wanting some lake information I’ll start with the lake levels.

Fishing from the boat through the change of light can be very productive.

Lake Eucumbene is still heading south, down in the past month from 28.9% to 26.5%. (The lake now begins at about Hughes Creek, quite some distance below the Portal.) I’ve fished the top of the lake several times recently. The banks are getting swampier by the day with rain, and with shorter, colder daylight hours unable to bake them hard again, they’re verging on treacherous, and the boat is filthy! But there are fish to be caught – before they get to the river and before they run the gauntlet of the twenty or so now-resident pelicans; and countless cormorants. The pelicans are truly impressive fishers, working in groups to herd fish into the shallows. They seem to take it in turns to actually fish, and their gullets seem to have no problem at all with what look like at least two pound fish.

Besides the Eucumbene River itself, there are some good-sized fish in some of the shallow and narrow creeks; sort of a microcosm of the main river. They’re often under logs and undercut banks, but rarely well hidden. We walked one all the way to a waterfall and a bit further, and it’s a wonderful thing to watch the trout. This 50cm brown wasn’t as well disguised as he thought he was.

Lake Jindabyne has risen from 75.6% to 77% in the last month. The reports I’ve had have been scarce, but the Snowy and Thredbo river arms seem to be fishing well. One boat fisher told me he’d parked and walked the bank for a kilometre down lake from the Thredbo river mouth and had seen more decent sized fish than he could count, all close to the bank, and seemingly doing laps. Various streamers seemed to bring about an aggressive response, he said.

A good edge-caught brown; reward for effort.

Tantangara Reservoir is still my pick. It’s still rising because the Portal to the Eucumbene River is closed for the rehabilitation works, and it is now at 16.4%. This puts a lot of good ground under water in the Nungar Creek and Murrumbidgee River arms. The level should almost be up to the Nungar Plains dolerite spar formations. My next trip with luck!

Back to the river, and my impression is that the average size is a lot bigger than 12 months ago, and the fish are spawning in the river below the Portal, and dropping back into the lake quickly. The quality of gravel in the lower part is exceptional after the spring floods washed away years of accumulated lake-bed sediment and the fish are loving it.

5 pm on a Wednesday night and still at it. Don’t expect that remote wilderness experience, but it’s nice if you want to graze with the herd.

Last weekend there were reports of 55 vehicles and campsites at Denison campground just down from the tree line, with another 30 vehicles at Providence. This seems unbelievable but not surprising. Normally, the local accommodation economy gets a boost from visiting anglers but that has all been booked out by workers on the Snowy 2.0 scheme. So it’s either camp, or go home. It doesn’t really seem like there are more fishers. Everyone just spreads out and disappears.

Phil was stoked with this 5lber. Two hours later he topped it with a 10lber.

Above the tree-line, the larger trout are less prevalent. The big pools don’t seem to be holding the usual number of fish, and it’s the soft water in the runs that is the most productive. Wading is not easy after the recent rain, so take care.

Paddys Corner on the Thredbo is as busy as you would expect, and there are plenty of anglers walking both down and up from the Thredbo road bridge car park. Everyone seems to be enjoying the atmosphere, and the new Snowy region Fisheries Officer has been seen out and about. At least one fisher was caught breaching the bag limit rules with both undersize fish and too many. The rules from May 1 are one fish over 50 cm.

Above the tree-line, the edges of the soft water are holding fish. The deep pools seem less productive than usual. The dawns are special, and the new trees are starting to show after the 2020 fires.

The fish above the tree-line look like resident river fish to me. Bigger, darker spots and without the gold of the lake fish.

Overall, with just a few more weeks of stream fishing left, it’s encouraging that the trout stocks in the lakes look promising to see us through once the streams close.