While a lot of the flyfishing world takes a winter break, it’s always worth remembering that there are hundreds of kilometres of Snowy Mountains lake shore waiting for your attention. The days to look for are flat calm if you fancy a spot of polaroiding, or a light offshore breeze if you’re prospecting with big wets (like the famous go-to crystal flash Woolly Bugger). Whilst it’s a lot more complicated than this, here are a few tips.
- Use an unweighted Pheasant Tail Nymph (it has to sink slowly) under an indicator, cast in front of a cruising fish. A big dry is a good alternative to an indicator. Use two nymphs if you want to fish flies at different depths, though presentations tend not to be quite as ‘clean’, and the risk of one fly snagging during the fight is real.
- If you’re not seeing fish, try a weighted Woolly Bugger sunk into deep water off steeply-sloping banks; fished back with an ultra-slow retrieve.
- If you are seeing fish but they’re not cruising close in, indicator fish in the 5 to 10 metre off-the-shore zone. Use weighted nymphs and don’t be shy about using a Glo-bug; it is winter after all. And strike at any movement of the indicator at all.
- Look for the best spots. Dark clay with signs of yabby holes; weedy areas; soaks; defined bays; high banks where you can get the sun behind you from 10am until 1 pm (you facing south to west);
But as always, expect the unexpected. On Lake Jindabyne near the dam wall last week with the Crazy Trout Hunters, the first sign of a fish was a rise 1oo metres along the bank. We scurried along the rocks and the fish taunted us for a whole before spooking. Then we noticed the small black insects drifting past and I managed to get one to crawl on to my rod tip. Termites (or ants?). I can’t say for sure which they were, but you know what they say about fishing to rises for either on lakes… (I’m too polite to repeat it here!)
The fish continued to taunt us. From memory we saw eight trout, a lot of them good-sized browns, and the only one Rod caught wasn’t rising but lying doggo against the bank – he landed his dry on a boulder and the nymph plopped into the water in front of the fish, which obligingly sucked it down.
Meanwhile, on Eucumbene, Anthony was following up on reports of a few rainbows at Anglers Reach and managed to get some action at dusk – with that crystal flash Woolly Bugger again.
In the bigger picture, a big dump of snow on the mountains over the last few days should help inflows, though as usual, lake levels will be equally at the mercy of how much water Snowy Hydro sends through the turbines and west. Lake Eucumbene is presently 23.5% (and just about to exceed last year’s level for the first time in 2019), Jindabyne is 68.5%, and Tantangara 18%. And all the lakes are more-or-less stable – for the moment.