Snowy Lakes Midsummer Update

Miracle declared: Lake Eucumbene is still rising in late January, those grassy edges against deep water a magnet for the trout.

I took a day this week for a bit of reflection. To be honest, the fishing may have been a bit too good. My shoulder has a bit of RSI from those truly demented rainbows so I thought a few hours fishing on my own without the pressure of getting fish would be fun.

I left home when I was ready, without the pressure of meeting someone. Got a coffee and a second breakfast muffin at the Lott in Cooma, and arrived at Providence for a gentleman’s hours fishing session. I had a small FOMO moment when I saw a boat already coming in but I suppressed the anxiety and went over for a chat – with the dog (Briggsy) enjoying a bit of human variety, which has been a bit scarce what with COVID-19 and all.

Briggsy on the lookout for a rise. Hard to spot in this chop.

I launched, and we set off across the lake. I could see mates Col and Mark up the bank, and a troller was working the deep water under Mount Denison. My plans for a quiet session evaporated as a strong gust of wind came howling in from the north west.

Although setting up a three fly rig is challenging in a semi-gale, I persevered and double-checked each dropper knot, turned on the spot lock,  and started my time allocated for reflection. My wife Cristina says it doesn’t work like that, but I remind her her yoga sessions are always to a strict timetable.

I am a firm believer that you have to be in the game to catch fish. If you’re distracted and metaphorically standing on the sideline, the fish won’t play. A couple of ‘swing and a miss’ hits later. I reflected on this and thought I should pay a bit more attention. I also had to move the boat into the lee of a small headland to make it a bit more comfortable.

Focus brought success in the form of a steady trickle of small rainbows on a size 16 Zebra Midge and small PTN before a larger fish grabbed the top dropper fly, a size 10 tungsten-beaded, green-and-bling skinny Magoo variant. Just over 3lbs – closely followed by two more. Off came the two small flies. The green fly got promoted to point, and a black and gold tungsten beaded wet of similar size was added to a dropper.

Rainbows like this are still a prize, but at a cost to my ageing shoulder joints!

For two more hours I enjoyed my contemplations, interspersed with several more champion fish including some good browns before heading back to shore and a chat with a mate who was launching – just as the rain came.

There is no cost too great for these browns. The emperor of all fish as far as I am concerned.

A quick note on flies, technique, and weather. Small flies have been the go all summer. Size 16 an 18 Zebra Midge, red stick candy midge, PTNs, etc; fished mid-water during the day on a sink tip in 2 to 3 metres of water, and on a floating line in the evening. Small hooks with a tungsten bead and bling have been my favourite streamer, mimicking tadpoles, baby trout, damsel nymphs (food) with the fly’s nose dive darting action. I really mix up my retrieve – but the one that works the most is a slow draw, a hard mend (to put some slack into the line to let the fly dip), and watch the mend slack for a soft take – freakin’ awesome! I learnt to do this at Dixieland a decade ago, casting to cruising rainbows over a deep weed-bed full of damsel nymphs, with a conehead fiery-brown Woolly Bugger.

On weather, without doubt overcast days have been the best, a bit of ripple is nice. The bugs move and hatch when the clouds come over; when the bugs are moving, the fish are feeding.

My flies 1. Zebra midge, PTNs, stick candy.

My flies 2. Nose divers. Tungsten and “holographic gold” bling in the tail.

Lake levels

Lake Eucumbene is at 47.59% and still gently creeping up – ever so gently! Jindabyne is at 97.17% and more-or-less stable – not many fishing reports other than of polaroiding success for cruising fish on sunny calm days. Tantangara is at 23.25% and fairly stable.


The Eucumbene River still near bank height down from Sawyers.

By this time I’m usually all over the rivers, but the lake has been too good. Col and Mark were on the Eucumbene River this week and reports very high dirty flows, a couple of days later much reduced flows (but still high) and clear water with excellent fishing on big dries.

A nice brown on a big dry on grass flattened by the recent flood.

A report from David on the Thredbo yesterday was that the floods are still making fishing hard, but, ‘Give it another couple of days and…..’

Stay Covid safe, and there’s no safer place than the middle of a huge lake!