Snowy Mountains spring update – it’s on!

Well the big news, although it’s hardly a secret, is that Lake Eucumbene is doing it’s once-in-a-decade phoenix routine. If you’re old enough to remember what it’s like when a prime trout-only fishery floods over established vegetation, you’ll have seen this before. The transformation is a sight to behold.

Freshly-flooded reeds in a Middlingbank soak – a short walk from Buckenderra.

As a young man in England, I drooled over Betamax videos of giant trout being whipped out of Lake Pedder seemingly every cast, from amidst the newly-flooded heath and forest.  On Lake Eucumbene, I guess it began to get going a month ago with a few false starts to the fishing, but then became progressively more consistent as the lake rose onto grassy banks that hadn’t seen water for several years.

The rotting has started, driving all that primary productivity; the water clear but with a tint of yellow from the dissolving organic matter. The midge have bred, so that last night if you weren’t wearing a buff, you were at risk of suffocation. And the fish are gorging and growing at phenomenal rates. All you hear along the foreshore is a steady hum of midge and coughing and gagging as dense clouds of midge waft and close around bankside fishers – you really need to be wading out a bit to get away from them.

Rod from Crazy trout hunters’ Thingamebob.

The action is all on small flies. Size 16 and 18 midge pupa, or cut-tail nymphs, and size 14 Griffith Gnats.

My size 16 hybrid copy that did some serious damage. That shiny head wrap is black “invisible cotton” from Woollies.

The midge on the car.

It’s been years since I’ve seen serious midge balls but there they are, rolling across the water, forming and separating, 5, 10, 20 midge in one furry blob.

The midge close up. Check out the segmented body.

Good fishing reports are coming from everywhere. Buckenderra is a real hot spot, but I’ve had reports from right the way around the lake. Middlingbank, Rushies, Frying Pan, Seven Gates, Braemar and all the way up to Providence. Good size (45-50 cm) rainbows mixed in with smaller fish, and the odd 2 to 3 lb brown. It’s brilliant if a little patchy. I fished with Rod twice this week. On one night he landed four to my zero (with one bust off); last night I landed six to his zero (with one bust off). The trout gods are fickle!

Another 3lb brown – too easy.

Hydro lake levels are good after solid spring rains. Eucumbene is levelling off at 38.4% with the water covering ground it hasn’t seen since July 2018.  Jindabyne has shot up to 76% from 52% in July, and Tantangara is at 39% but that level is heading south through the Portal into Eucumbene.

2.5lb rainbow – as fat as lard.

Reports from Tantangara are a bit sparse as everyone heads for Eucumbene, but Jindabyne has been producing some decent brown trout with good evening rises as the lake covers fresh ground. The rainbows are still MIA, unless of course you know different? The rivers are still running hard but are now at least fishable after some spectacular flooding since mid October. The Eucumbene River is fishing well in the mid reaches with Glo-bugs and tungsten nymphs, and the dry fly action is starting to warm up. All the small creeks and rivers right around the mountains still have decent flows and will fish well right up to the end of the year even if we don’t get more rain. (Although more rain is still on the cards as this La Nina weather persists.) The Monaro remains in recovery from the drought but trout have been stocked and there are a few reports of some surviving fish – maybe give them a break this year.

But back to the lake and the final thing to mention are the many grubs in and on the water. White, creamy, greeny. Several different types – maggots, moth and beetle larvae, all very attractive to the fish. I know because someone showed me a picture of a trout’s stomach contents that was basically a two or three golf ball-sized globs of grubs. I’ve tied, I’ve tried, but no cigar.

And a quick postscript…. Wednesday 18 spider mudeye hatch right on dark!

My latest recruit Navid. First time trout fishing, first time on a boat, first fish landed.