Snowy Mountains lakes end of winter up, up, update

Sleetbow at Hughes Creek.

No, I haven’t developed a stutter, but if the quality of this winter’s fishing wasn’t already enough to leave me speechless and short of superlatives, I could have done without the rapid increase in water level we’re seeing at Lake Eucumbene right now. It is truly unbelievable. In vertical terms, we are less than two metres from last year’s high water; about three percent in lake volume. The fishing is great, the trout are in awesome condition. By late spring, the lake should be over 55 percent and Providence Flats will give us the best loch style fishing for a decade. All the trees, scrub and thistles that have grown over the last several years will bring us all to our knees – big tippet, and lots of serious fish wrangling will be called for.

Mark’s hard earned brown on a brutal weather day.

Whilst the fishing has been great, we’ve had to endure some brutal weather. I spent a day with Mark and even though I’d endured some rough weather the week before, on this day we saw rain, hail, sleet and snow, with intermittent gale force winds. Add in temperatures of ‘feels like’ 2 degrees (or less) all day. We hung on and hung on and only trailered the boat after sunset – a decision I regretted for the next two days as the stiffness and wind burn slowly wore off – but it was worth it!

Rainbow in spawning colours.

Meanwhile, Lake Jindabyne has been fishing well. All the good reports are from the southern and western shores to the north of the town, and the deep water between East Jindabyne and the dam wall. A lot of solid browns coming up for big flies, sunk deep. They’re not even far off the banks.

Long tailed Woolly Buggers were hotly devoured.

Snowy lake water levels 18 August 2022

Lake Eucumbene is at 44.4% and rocketing up, compared with 28% this time last year. Lake Jindabyne is at 88% and stable, compared with 77% last year. Tantangara Reservoir is at 26.6% and rising rapidly, despite the Portal into Eucumbene running flat out.

Worm-filled brown from the top of Lake Eucumbene after the flood.

Goodbye to the old boat

I’ve got a new boat coming, the first purely recreational boat I’ve owned for twelve years. I’m retiring from charter work, and just lakeshore guiding from now on. A big decision. I took Col with me for the last trip on the survey boat. He is not the greatest fan of boat flyfishing, and usually wants to get out and fish the banks. This time though, he didn’t even put on his waders. Col also succumbed to the guide’s advice on fly choice and technique, and after catching a superb brown, he suggested now might not be the time to change boats, seeing as how he’d finally cracked the code!

The last fish of the last day (on the current boat) from One Tree Bay.

Final thought on the lakes: even though it’s been cold, there are plenty of midge once the sun comes out and there’s also the odd caddis popping off. With the lake rising so fast though, the fish rises have moved offshore – presumably because that’s where the midge are hatching (where the water was two weeks ago). So get your long cast sorted out if you want to get amongst the midging ‘bows.

River season only 6 weeks away

Another source of intense excitement and anxiety is the river opening in six weeks, on Saturday 1 October. Observers (without rods of course) say there are a lot of rainbows in the river and still more to run, although rainbow catches in the lake have definitely dropped off. In the last week, dozens of cormorants have arrived to enjoy the snack-size brownies coming down the river and the large schools of rainbows in the shallows at the top of the lake (#don’tlikecormorants). Accommodation is still at a premium due to the Snowy 2.0 workforce, so book early.