Snowies update: warm days, cold nights

Night time on Lake Eucumbene as the wind settles.

The Snowy Mountain lakes are always ready to teach you a lesson. Mostly about humility, and that when it comes to trout fishing the “box of chocolates” metaphor is oh so true. So, I was brought up on Quality Street, mostly at Christmas, at a time in history when a treat was a treat and you could smell the mandarin in your stocking from Santa when you woke at 5am. The gold foil-wrapped chocolate coin going down first, the mandarin being saved for later. Thing is, with the coin and the mandarin you knew what you were getting, but when it came to the Quality Street, well there were a few soft centred little land mines in there that everyone avoided. You just had to remember which coloured bit of glittery wrapping contained the chewy caramels, and which the more-than-sweet and slightly sickly strawberry. And that’s what the Snowies can dish up – sometimes a whole truck load of caramel; at others it’s all strawberry.

A precious fish given all those strawberries.

Eucumbene has fished well as the lake dropped, turning the yabbies out of their homes to scurry around in the open, close to shore, bringing in the chunky browns. Even the occasional rainbow is in top nick. Tantangara has been flooding over new ground, bringing the fish inshore to snout around for grubs and worms. But now Eucumbene has stopped falling, and has even crept up a bit; and Tantangara has so much flooded ground the fish have got fussy and don’t need to be in close to find a feed. And so the fishing is all shiny-coloured wrapper with strawberry centres.

Night time rainbow.

We launched at Tantangara with breakers on the ramp, taking a small wave over the transom which washed around the deck for a bit. We fished the western shore hot spot and the islands flats, and the Nungar Creek and Murrumbidgee River arms. There were midge and stick caddis but almost nothing to be seen on the surface fish-wise. Dragonflies were spotting their eggs all around the lake but not one crazy leaping brown.

Calm Eucumbene conditions do not inspire confidence.

Full marks to Terry and Doug for their resilience and persistence and believing my now-proven-to-be flawed optimism. We stuck it for nearly 10 hours, from bank and boat, and they never flagged.

On a very different next day we fished Eucumbene in light winds. Once again my Nobby Rock hotspot looked awesome. Clay and sand down to the water’s edge with not a sign of that sticky mud that threatens to suck you into oblivion. Beautiful yabby beds, even a bit of weed. But still not delivering to expectations.

Such a fishy Eucumbene lake edge.

Anyway, I’ve run away to work in Tonga and Fiji for a few days but I’ll be back for the river opening weekend on 29 September. For everyone who’s coming up (or down) it looks like a dry but windy season start, with nothing in the forecast at this stage to suggest much in the way of rain. The rivers will be crystal clear and there should be good snowmelt flows, but not bank-busters. It’ll be busy, especially if the weather is good so play nice in the environment of suspended etiquette. Reports from river watchers are that some nice fish have been spotted, perhaps not the dense schools of Christmas Past but enough to excite after a closed season at home annoying the non-fishing members of the household.

Eucumbene is now over 20% after a low of 18.5%, Tantangara is at 54% and Jindabyne at 65% – and both rising.

Amazing numbers of stick caddis pushing off this shallow shore.

Drive carefully on the October long weekend – there’s still a lot of those lunatic skiers around with the main resorts extending their season on the back of the deep snow base.

The magic carpet ready for action.