Snowy Mountains Rubik’s Cube

A mild, wet spring and first half of summer in the Snowy Mountains meant higher inflows for longer periods, allowing our storages to fill at a good pace and flood revegetated shores. It’s also likely that several waters received a nutrient boost from run-off after last year’s bushfires. The result at Lake Eucumbene was a midge boom, which the trout capitalised on for 2½ months, giving us anglers a lot of joy.

Eucumbene midge feeder.

Then, in the last month, the big lake has dropped dramatically to 34% at the time of writing, just on the old grass line. As Eucumbene dropped, I’m sure just about every regular would have been heartbroken. But little did we know there was a long-awaited mudeye highlight boiling beneath the surface. The right bank, the right fly, the right night and you are destined for glory! Some nights, 20 fish have been a common occurrence – all you have to do is align the colours on the Snowy equivalent of a Rubik’s Cube, and you can capitalise.

Eucumbene mudeye feeder.

Three Mile Dam

It may sound spoilt, but we decided to pull ourselves away from Eucumbene and venture elsewhere to help complete the Snowy Mountains Rubik’s Cube. Just before the new year the Link, Kings Cross and Khancoban/Cabramurra roads reopened for the first time since the fires. We knew that would mean one coloured square automatically: no fishing pressure!

So our first stop was Three Mile Dam and as we arrived, I was gobsmacked. The place had copped an absolute scorching and was ever so silent. In fact the loudest noise was trout gulping away as we set up. We found various species of newly-emerged mayfly on the water: Baetis, caenids and a lovely little mayfly I’ve never seen before – dark brown/ almost black, fading to bronze segments on the abdomen and a clear wing, around size 16.

Mayfly are trout chocolate; another coloured square! The trout were taking mayfly but which one? I started off teaming a small Shaving Brush and a size 20 BWO to cover the two mayfly we identified.

We got the odd take and landed one small fish as we covered the water. Then, as we approached the calmer southern shores, the fishing got better. This is where the duns were hatching and sailing out across the lake. We had takes every cast; covering rises or bait fishing the dry, it simply didn’t matter. Another coloured box!

Three Mile leaper which attacked a fast-stripped Madam X.

After a while, we actually stopped fishing to the dun feeders and began casting to leapers using big rubber-legged can’t sink’ems, with long skating draws and even stripping for explosive takes from better than average fish.

We left Three Mile with complete satisfaction, and with a few hours of daylight remaining, decided to visit the smaller sister lake, Eight Mile Dam.

Eight mile Dam aka Dry Dam

Eight Mile brownie.

As with Three Mile, we already had a coloured box before making a cast: it hadn’t been fished in 12 months. And yes, there were duns popping!  A little more straightforward than at Three Mile, with just the common March Browns.

While we didn’t get a full face of the cube, we got enough squares catching brookies, browns and ‘bows. I’ll be back in the near future as I think we can do better – I think the next square is out of our control at this point, we need the terrestrials to peak.

Night sky colours of a bushfire survivor.

Lake Jindabyne

While Eucumbene was lifting to match its former reputation, we still managed to visit Lake Jindabyne from time to time.

Personally, I find Jindabyne fishes best when it’s low – not the case over much of this summer. But the lake still rivalled Eucumbene for mudeye marches. While they were probably not as thick, if you got the full Rubik’s square, it was incredible. And judging by the condition of the trout, I suspect the mudeye migrations were underway at Jindy well before those at Eucumbene.

Fishing during the day with mudeye patterns seemed all but worthless. However, the nightshift was a totally different story, provided you choose a good bank with plenty of mudeye habitat, being boulders and timber.

On my last session at Jindabyne, we fluked a full moon and fished from 7pm to 3am. The fishing was poor until about an hour after sunset. Then the Rubik’s Cube colours lined up as we got to our chosen bank. We yelled all night catching browns to nearly 3kg, before I had to pull Jack away. (I had work the next day!)

Jack Allen with a 2.7kg Jindy mudeye feeder.

So that’s our summer lately and I’m finding the Rubik’s Cube analogy isn’t a bad way to think about it. Any good day is really about lining up the squares; the more the better! Perhaps the same thinking could be applied to fishing just about anywhere.