Snowy Mountains Late Autumn Update

Monaro poplars in autumn’s colours.

Autumn is always a time of change but this year perhaps more so than usual. For those of us who do a spot of long-term weather-watching, the La Nina/El Nino cycle is shifting and after three wet years, we were told to expect lower than average rainfall. Surprising then that my rain gauge got 40mm on Sunday, and a quick trip to the Eucumbene River at Kiandra yesterday surprised me again with the water level more or less at bank level. It was tanking! It was also sleeting, with the odd stinging hail squall in gale-force winds, and only a few degrees above freezing. Looking towards Mount Selwyn, I could see the slow drift of snow across the sky. My random thought was that a mere two weeks ago, I was hopper fishing this water in a T-shirt.

Another interesting feature of the weather is, we haven’t had the regular autumn winds. The golden poplar leaves we see throughout the Snowy-Monaro have held on, giving us a much longer display than usual. It just all feels different this year. So I’m banking on change.

Caitlyn on her first lake flyfishing trip. Check out the paddle on that rainbow.

Fishing report

Everyone is catching fish. The Eucumbene and Thredbo rivers are in full spawn-run mode, with the usual catches of massive browns all over social media. A reminder that from 1 May, there’s a one trophy fish over 50cm limit.

The lakes are all fishing well, with aggressive feeding by both browns and rainbows. Both species are eating big flies as they endeavour to put on yet more condition, on top of what they’re already carrying. I took Caitlyn and Ben out on Lake Eucumbene for their first flyfishing trip. The biggest fish of the day eventually got off after a long scrap, when we just could not get it off the bottom. It just lunged around the boat and complained whenever Caitlyn cranked up the pressure. 

Big flies have been fishing really well. Anything heavy in marabou or rabbit fur, and even some of the old favourites like a Mrs Simpson or a Taihapi Tickler. If you can handle a big tungsten bead or lead dumbbell eyes, that gives the fly a bit of wiggle and shake, which seems to drive the trout crazy.

A calm surface belies all the furious subsurface activity.

Meanwhile, I’ve been cleaning up for a move. Long ago, all my fish pictures got relegated to the shed office, and I was thinking about the story behind some of them. The familiar Chris Hole prints; two Compleat Flyfisher prints won in a raffle at a VFFA dinner; and a picture of one of my favourite small dams with a “$25 TO GO FISHING” reflection image of the newspaper-stand poster announcing the NSW general recreational fishing licence, one of my former-life projects. 

Trout are the most aesthetically beautiful fish.

Snowy lake levels

Lake levels are all holding well. Lake Eucumbene is at 65.5% and steady after a late summer drop. Jindabyne is at 84%, just enough to have a small bit of clear bank to chase the big trout on the western shorelines finding their way to the Thredbo and Snowy River arms. 

Tantangara Reservoir is up a small amount to 17.92%, with another Snowy 2.0 project announcement this week of a cost blowout and a two year delay in completion.

For those thinking about their winter fishing trip, another month and the rivers will be closed and as we get into July, watch the forecasts for those windless blue-sky days and high bank polaroiding. I can’t wait!