Snowy Mountains Surprises

My Snowys trips with good mate and regular FlyStream blogger Steve Dunn go back a long way. In the planning, these trips seldom strike me as remarkable – a few days of fishing in an admittedly fishy part of the world, but hardly an epic adventure to Iceland or Argentina. Yet somehow, most trips seem to throw up at least one of those ‘remember when?’ moments that, many decades from now, Steve and I will recall while sitting on the porch of his house in Adaminaby.

Maybe I'll walk down just one more bend... Upper Murrumbidgee River.

Maybe I’ll walk down just one more bend… Upper Murrumbidgee River.

This trip, we had two of these moments. The first was a Hercules doing twilight low-flying exercises over the Providence Arm of Lake Eucumbene. I’ve had a few surprises at Eucumbene over the years, but an aircraft with a 40 metre wingspan roaring by a couple of casts overhead, is going to take some beating. Our old mate Rod is a bit hard of hearing and the first he knew of the plane was a giant shape in his peripheral vision – he thought it was about to crash!

That is a very big cormorant!

That is a very big cormorant!

The second surprise occurred on the Eucumbene River. I’d just caught a 3 pounder and was thinking the day couldn’t get much better, when Steve spotted an alpine dingo disappearing behind a hummock on the other side of the river. In 40 years of living in and visiting the mountains, I’d never seen a true alpine dingo, so I snuck across the river and over the hummock, hoping for a distant photo. In fact, the dingo reappeared out of the tussocks just a few metres from me and lingered for over a minute before casually trotting away. I think I could have approached even closer, but something about its demeanour suggested I was already close enough.

A first for me - and memories of an encounter recorded in my book 'The River Behind the Hill.'

A first for me – and memories of an encounter recorded years ago in my book ‘The River Behind the Hill.’

As for the actual fishing, when two old friends are reflecting on it many years from now, realistically I think most of it will blend into all the other Snowys trips, meaning I’ll need to pull out the fishing diary from 2016 to truly remember the details. It was good a lot of the time and occasionally very good, like two out of three evenings at Providence when we landed 10 and 16 trout respectively between us, mainly sighted, and mainly on dries like Black Muddlers and Claret Carrots.

They called it Providence, and I know why.

Providence by name…

The daytime lake fishing was harder, although we usually saw and caught enough to maintain hope of better things. One afternoon, Tantangara was only a few steady risers away from brilliant.

Brownie on the Black Muddler.

Brownie on the Black Muddler.

The streams were a dry fly delight. Small fish of 8 to 13 inches dominated, though I managed a three pounder on both the Murrumbidgee and Eucumbene rivers, and we spooked a few more of similar size. Fly-wise, all we needed most of the time was a size 12 Stimulator (orange body) though staying out of sight – not easy in the treeless highlands – and good presentation were both critical. Drag was death.

A good one from a Eucumbene River undercut.

A good one from a Eucumbene River undercut.

As I flew home this evening, the pilots weaved around towering thunderclouds of the kind that threatened for most of the trip, but really only stopped play for a few hours. These storms are a temporary nuisance but they’ve obviously been a boon for the Snowys this summer, topping up many streams and lakes. I hope I get a return ticket soon.

(PS: For anyone who’s interested, I’ve just put a more detailed fishing report in the Forum.)

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