Snowy Mountains late summer update

Lake Eucumbene surrounds are finally browning off, but with water levels remaining high.

After the unusually green days of this spring and summer Lake Eucumbene has reverted to its more familiar self, at least in part. The grass and thistles have browned off and seeded, the landscape assuming it’s barren post-apocalyptic visage. The one thing missing is the traditional late summer 20 metre-wide muddy scar left by the receding lake water. 

Michael rugged up for a cold day on Lake Eucumbene.

The big lakes have been fishing well and dare I say it, have become a little predictable. Small midge pupa patterns, small pheasant tail nymphs, a Woolly Bugger if they don’t work, a big furry surface fly on dark, and if I remember, a stick caddis if all else fails.

A couple of notable days this month. Michael had his first charter and fished like a demon from mid-morning until dark, through a couple of squalls and a day time top temperature of 12 degrees. Quick to pick up on new techniques and small-fly fishing on a day when we saw hardly a rise, he still caught plenty and missed many more.

Harley cracks flyfishing on his first trip. “What’s so hard about this”?

Harley, on the other hand picked up a fly rod for the first time and walked into water dressed like a hazard-warning beacon, with fish boiling all around us feeding on small blood-red-and-black midge pupa. Then again, orange has long been recognised as a trigger colour for rainbows!

Crazytrouthunter Jack. It took a smooch from his dad to get a smile!

Jack, the third team member of the Crazytrouthunterz, came up from Victoria for a week. His Dad told me Jack struggled to catch a rainbow in Lake Eucumbene and only caught good browns, right up until the last session of the last day – when he finally hooked a horse rainbow. This made me think about how we’ve all been fishing, settling into a style and routine (consciously or not) which has worked best on ‘bows. Jack rocks up fishing his style, and catches all browns. Not wanting to overthink it, but although I wasn’t there, I would have been watching Jack closely if I had been!

The rivers

Keith wrangling a nice hopper-munching rainbow.

As mid-February passed, it dawned on me that I hadn’t fished a stream since late December. I called the Adaminaby Angler for some intel and Col said, “Just one word: hoppers”. Word was out apparently, and it took Keith and I a bit of exploring and a bit of hiking to find some unoccupied water.  

Netting a fish on the edge of a deep pool brought challenge and risk, so a seated approach seemed sensible!

The effort paid off though, and apart from Keith suffering a monster black snake-induced virtual coronary, we found decent numbers of good-sized rainbows and browns. While the hoppers have certainly got off to a late start, I think it would now be wise to carry hopper patterns if visiting any grass-lined Snowy Mountains stream. 

Snowy lake levels

Lake levels remain high. Lake Eucumbene is at 47.7% and has been stable for a month. Hoppers on the banks are drawing fish close to the edges, including some very big browns. Jindabyne has fallen a bit to 96%; a different Jack from Cooma sent me the pic below of a good brown he caught right near the caravan park on Lake Jindabyne.

Tantangara is at 17% and has been falling in fits and starts since early December.

Jack with a decent Jindy brown.

What’s next?

Hoppers hoppers hoppers, on lakes and rivers. They’re everywhere. If we get heavy rain that will knock them around a bit but otherwise get the big rubber leg flies out right the way through until late April.