Snowy Mountains late summer update

Lake Eucumbene has dropped precisely this much. Under the mulch is a good supply of beetles and worms.

Everyone is talking about hopper fishing. The river fishing is dominated by any big fly with rubber legs, and recently, I’ve had solid lake hopper sessions. For the first, we’d launched at Buckenderra and headed north with a strong southerly behind us, in full sun, in the middle of the day. I’d had a bit of intel that mudeye patterns fished deep had been catching fish, so I spent two hours stripping wets before I noticed a mob of seagulls dipping the surface to pick off an attractive food source. During a mayfly hatch, they wheel around close to the water surface; on Christmas beetles it all happens 50 metres in the air, if they’re dipping, it’s either beetles or hoppers. I knew straight away it was hoppers and kicked myself quietly for not working it out earlier. (I think we’d had one solid hit on the mudeye pattern.)

A solid Lake Eucumbene rainbow on the Henneberry Hopper.

For hopper fishing, I mostly prefer to be on the bank. So we jumped out and immediately saw a boiling rise maybe 6 or 7 metres out. The next two hours were pretty lively and whilst I only landed three fish, I had ten times that amount of interest. I had the feeling the trout weren’t truly committing yet – which should change with time. My personal favourite fly at present is the Henneberry Hopper, yellow or green, but to be honest Keith got a nice fish on something that resembled a white tarantula! Rod Allen says he loves the HH, but reckons the hook is too buried in the foam body and this affects his hook-up ratio.

Looking from the Providence Portal towards the river mouth at Denison. On the right is the waterfront Cool Mountain Lodge (formerly Providence Lodge).

I took the boat up to Providence this week which looks amazing. I had one big hit on a hopper but resorted to fishing a stick caddis underneath – which immediately started catching fish. This really has been the year of the caddis – even the fish caught on mudeye were full of stickies when cleaned (so I have been told).

Stick caddis caught brown hung under a hopper at Providence.

Lake Eucumbene is pretty stable at 68.3%, basically 0.3% down from its high in January. The fishing has changed as all the worms have been picked up, and the water has warmed. It’s sitting at around 22 degrees bankside; a little over 20 degrees from the boat when 25 metres off the bank. Still okay, but enough to make the fish a little lethargic. If you’re releasing, do it quickly and take them as far off the bank as you can so they can get down into some deeper, cooler water.

I’ve had good reports from the Eucumbene River all the way from Denison to Kiandra. A lot of sub-1lb fish and the odd lunker brown. The big rainbows that were hanging around in the New Year appear to have gone back to the lake, but don’t be surprised if you come across some very big fish. On the lake, if there’s a burley trail of hoppers drifting out, the trout will follow for sure.

As well as the hoppers, damseflies are abundant and no doubt adding to the surface attraction. (See Kiel Jones’ recent feature The Damsel Code – FlyStream)

Lake Jindabyne is stable, hovering around 93%. Flyfishing reports from the lake are a bit scarce, but the Thredbo has been fishing well according to the Crazytrouthunterz on Facebook.

Tantangara Reservoir is stable at 16.7% now the Portal into Eucumbene has been shut off. I fancy Tantangara in mid to late March if it stays at this level, once there’s a bit of growth on the banks and it’s cooled down a bit.

It’s going to be an exciting few weeks ahead. Some more rain forecast next week will cool it all down a bit and freshen up the rivers, so early March looks like a good time for a visit before we get into ANZAC and Easter crowds.

Footnote: Portal observed running again on 20 Feb.