Snowy lakes – into autumn update

It was a short summer; the La Nina wet spring went on forever, the lake rose, we had some sun but not much. The paddocks stayed green for longer than I can ever remember, as did the hoppers – when we really wanted them to turn brown and yellow, and not sink as soon as they hit the water! I’m not complaining about the fishing. As our editor recounted from our last trip together, we caught the same numbers of fish. He mostly stuck with his Murrumbidgee Brown Nymph; I fished hoppers, buggers, and stick caddis. But a hopper-caught fish is worth ten on a nymph, everyone knows that, so I’ve relentlessly fished it for hours without success and then ‘brained em’ for half an hour on a stick caddis/Murrumbidgee Brown combo.

Meanwhile, to confirm the trout will sometimes eat pretty much eat anything, Keith, my getting-better-every-trip buddy, insists on fishing flies from his pre-Covid trips to Chile. and caught this cracker on something I might have put in the bin; almost a tarantula.

Lake Eucumbene

I had boat trip on Lake Eucumbene with the Crazy Trout Hunterz, Rod and Ash. Ash was recovering from a broken femur so was stuck in a deck chair on the casting platform. I flogged away with my hoppers while they mixed it up. We all caught trout on a choppy day, one notable for the complete lack of rising fish – unless you count those pesky dragonfly leapers that had us chasing around for an hour late in the afternoon.

Rod, Ash, and Briggsy the dog.

On the subject of food, there are a lot of mudeyes around and a lot of people have been talking about the evening mudeye fishing, which so far I haven’t been tempted by. I remember many years ago my uncle in New Zealand looking at me aghast when I said I wanted to fish the evening rise. We already a proverbial sack full of fish from an irrigation lake in the Central Otago. I think the fishing was generally so good, by the time late afternoon arrived, any workmanlike flyfisher was on his way the bistro.

It’s a bit like that this year. We always used to return to camp, grab something to eat, and be back on the lake for the hour before and the hour after sunset, and often a bit longer. But when you’ve already filled your boots, a relaxing dinner has a newfound attraction. Or, perhaps I’m just getting old. Notwithstanding all that waffle, there have been plenty of mudeyes around. I always check the trees and boulders for last night’s shucks, and they’re plentiful. And landing the boat just after dark last weekend, I spent several minutes with the torch at the Buckenderra boat ramp watching mudeyes chase stick caddis – it’s a brutal world. Jim Jackman reported seeing fish at Tri-Villa Inlet leaping for hatching caddis, which are also around in good numbers on the right night.

Mudeye shucks on a Eucumbene tree.

Lake Eucumbene water temperatures have been dropping nicely. Last weekend the surface was 18 degrees which is excellent, if not perfect. Autumn always brings fresh winds and it can get cold very quickly. We also get great cloud displays and sunsets. Eucumbene is currently 66.4%, down from a season high of 68.7%. This time last year it was a 47.68%. It’s not unreasonable to expect it to drop steadily, perhaps by 10%, right up until August before the snowmelt and spring rains (I’m ever the optimist!) start to kick it up again.

Lake Jindabyne

I’ve had some good reports from Lake Jindabyne with huge cruising fish on the banks looking for hoppers. The lake is at 84.63%, down from a season high of 97%. I like that. If the vegetation can get a bit of a hold on the banks before winter, the ecology of the lake will be better next summer, with more food as it floods, the rotting sets in and the bug life gets going.

Tantangara Reservoir

Tantangara Reservoir is at 15.3% and falling slowly. The Portal into Lake Eucumbene is open, but only about half flow last time I looked.

The brown trout spawn run

Well, we all thought it would be early, but maybe not this early. Already there are good numbers of fish all the way up to Kiandra. Word is out and there are pop-up campsites and carparks everywhere. A lot of very good fish have been caught on big foam surface flies. It would be nice to see some reactive regulation from DPI Fisheries, because as it stands, the spawn run rule of 1 fish over 60cm doesn’t kick in until 1 May. Flexible regulation is good regulation, and it breaks my heart seeing so many big fish ending up in the esky. I’m not against spawn run fishing, but we decided a long time ago to make it a catch-and-release fishery from 1 May (other than one trophy fish) and if the fish run early, as they have this autumn, we should continue to recognise that principle in my humble opinion.

Autumn/ winter flies.