Snowy Lakes end of summer report

Rainbow stocking Lake Eucumbene

Dunkirk big fish release.

The Gaden hatchery team brought 10,000 advanced fingerling rainbows out to Buckenderra on the weekend. A good team of volunteer stockers attended on a beautiful day (encouraged by the offer of coffee, and bacon and egg rolls cooked by the hatchery team) to spread the little rainbows from their oxygen-packed bags right across the lake – including via three boats which motored down all the way from Old Adaminaby. This is the third year we’ve had these advanced fish from NSW Fisheries and there are good signs that survival is better than for their diminutive predecessors, with distinct year classes obvious in the subsequent catch. The fish to be stocked were in great shape, and the odd ‘bolter’ could almost be described as pan-sized (though in description only)!

Look at those babies go!

Watching them on the sounder bolting for the bottom, it’s not difficult to imagine the sense of freedom these fish must feel – perhaps like horses being let into a new paddock, with a whole world to explore beyond their concrete tank walls. And check out the great shape of those fins. As good as wild fish.

The coot, the platypus, and the brown trout

Humans are truly odd. We are fed a daily news diet of drought, famine, disease: natural and man-made disasters. This week’s media-generated panic is about non-friable asbestos in NSW recycled mulch supply. Meanwhile, wars continue to rage in the Middle East and the Ukraine, and I can only imagine how really awful that must be. And yet the thing that has incensed me most this week is a coot I found entangled in fishing line and impaled on a diving lure with two treble hooks, flapping around helplessly in the middle of Brookwood Bay. It reminded of a dead platypus at Providence last year, similarly impaled by a treble-hooked lure. And almost as bad, someone walking up to me on the river wanting to boast about the big brown trout he had bulging in his carry bag that he’d caught and killed near Kiandra Bridge on the Eucumbene River (someone remind me why the Eucumbene River isn’t catch-and-release?)

It took three of us to dehook and disentangle the coot, and it swam away. I think it’s really important that as I get older and grumpier, no one does any of these things while I’m in the vicinity. The psychology of denialism, where we in essence have the ability to ignore a war, but can care for a hurt animal, is canvassed in the book ‘Humankind: A Hopeful History’ by Rutger Bregman. An interesting read if you are curious about why, for example, most soldiers avoid firing their guns in battle.

Mad as hell, but a happy ending.

Falling lake and hot water

On Lake Eucumbene, the flyfishing is pretty much dawn (indicator and small nymph/midge/stick caddis); and dusk (same, plus mudeyes), with nothing much in between. The lake has receded from many of the better soaks, leaving only muddy bath water, albeit alive with bugs. And a warning to boat operators: there are lots of boulders and trees just sub-surface as the lake falls.

I fished Muzzlewood at Frying Pan early one morning and failed to catch any of the tailing browns boldly flapping their caudal fins, but I got very close. A beautiful sight, although I was distracted by the trail of foxes trotting back around the bay, which I later found to have been feeding on a sheep carcass in the mud.

A hot sultry Frying Pan day, with sludgy banks and warm water: not the best for shore-based shallow water fishing.

Another warning: the mud is deep and gluggy in the soaks. In places, the dried mud is just a brittle skin. It’s difficult to get the goo off your waders and a distinct marsh smell is pretty pervasive. The lake surface temperature is 22 degrees in the main body, and a lot warmer in the shallows. There is literally no surface action, and the dragonfly-leaping browns are presumably content with retreating yabbies; the rainbows with the daphnia blooms. The reports I’ve had of stomach contents suggest the fish are generally not feeding much at all; the odd mudeye, moth, and midge sludge. We are in the doldrums right now.

The famous Frying Pan tide-marker/ hull-destroying boulder.

The Eucumbene River still has good flows

The Eucumbene River is still holding spring flows with an amazing amount of fishable water. Normally at this time of year, the bigger pools are pretty much the only places I like to fish, but this February, there are endless deep undercuts and fast riffles to explore. And they are being explored, by plenty of people. On this day the sky was blue, the fish cooperated, and the half dozen other small groups, mainly lure fishing, I encountered on this Sunday had obviously been to church before bothering with the fishing. Which is my main piece of advice; get there early – breakfast can wait.

Have you ever seen more beautiful water?

Snowy Lake Levels

Lake Eucumbene is dropping steadily, down half a percent in the last week, and is now at 59.3%, around 10 % below the level a year ago.

Lake Jindabyne has held steady at around 71.5% for most of the last month. Fishing reports are similar to Eucumbene: nothing much in the heat of the day, but some good action with mudeyes and midge on dusk.

Tantangara Reservoir is still rising steadily, now at 25.2%. I have no fishing reports and nothing yet on the water quality tests following the fish kill I mentioned in my last report.

What next?

I am still optimistic we’ll get autumn hopper fishing. There are good numbers in the long grass 20 metres from the lake edge, and if this dry weather continues, all we need are some windy days to get them flying and the fish zoned in, and it’ll be on for sure. As we creep into autumn, the water will cool and the fish will start feeding like crazy to put on spawning condition. I expect some good action later in March and into April.