I am eternally partial to Lake Eucumbene. It’s been a ‘fix’ for me for over 30 years and I am pleased to report that as the New Year started, the lake level reached a new season high of 68.72%. That’s the highest since 2003, when it reached 72.8%. But I can still remember 1998, when it was at 84%; and polaroiding browns on hoppers in February after climbing the fence from the road into Frying Pan campsite. There is still time!
Last night I fished the Frying Pan Arm. One brown was full of worms that just spilled out of its mouth and into the net. There were reasonable numbers of midge and caddis, and nothing feeding on them. The fish I caught were on stick caddis fished slowly and deep over the top of the flooded grass. The fish are all in top condition and one rainbow nearly dislocated my shoulder, which is still damn sore this morning. I highly recommend 10lb fluorocarbon (I favour 2X Frog Hair, 3X at a push). There is so much submerged tea tree, rose bush, blackberry, pin rushes and thistle, it’s a miracle to land anything and you really need to horse the trout to the net. As Keith can testify, it’s the hook that becomes the weak link, as his size 10 stick caddis broke in half. “I said horse it, not hippo it.”
It’s a been a great couple of weeks. All the campsites and van parks are busy. Driving the boat from Middlingbank to the Buckenderra boat ramp on Boxing Day night, you could have been mistaken for thinking Buckenderra was Rose Bay on Sydney Harbour. The whole hillside was lit up. Everyone seems to be catching fish, one chap at the boat ramp couldn’t stop talking about the, ’32 browns I’ve polaroided today, and even caught a few!’
Don’t worry about the crowds. As is the way with Eucumbene, walk a bit further than the next guy, or take your boat to a quiet bay, and you could be the only person on the planet. Water temperatures are around 20C in the shallows, which is nice for wading and not too hot for the fish, but if you’re releasing, do it quick, and away from shallow water.
Over the break I took a quick spin up to Guthega, but it was virtually empty. One of the risks of going there is always that they’ve pulled the plug overnight to make a bit of electricity. I’m going to put a camera on that lake one day! I came back down via Smiggins Hole and fished the creek on the way, which was full of feisty fish.
Lake Jindabyne has been fishing well, and has been pretty busy. It’s at 96% and give or take a couple of percent, it’s been high all year. It looks amazing, but is not benefitting from the newly flooded ground in the same way as Eucumbene, and the fish are not as chunky.
Tantangara Reservoir reports have been mixed. The lake has been falling steadily since late November so there is a big scar and a lot of muddy shoreline, especially when it’s wet. I spoke with one group of campers who had left early rather than deal with the mud.
I am a huge fan of big flies, but right now its all about small. Whilst you should always have a few Woolly Buggers and mudeye patterns handy, and start thinking about carrying hopper and beetle patterns (the grass is full of small green hoppers), midge pupa, midge balls, Griffiths Gnat, stick caddis, and small Pheasant Tail Nymphs will presently catch you most of your fish. Make sure you’ve got a few beaded nymphs to get your stick caddis into deeper water, and think seriously about fishing a pupa or stick caddis under an indicator (or a highly visible dry), especially when the water glasses off and you can fish in very shallow water.
Mid January would be a great time to get down to the Snowies. There should be plenty of accommodation available by then as visitor numbers recede and the holidays come to an end. Don’t miss out!