There’s an arm of Tantangara Reservoir called Nungar and Steve Dunn first took me fishing up there many years ago. With its Stonehenge-like dolorite outcrops and misty bleakness, I immediately thought that a place like this needed a mythical resident: Nungar Man. Part Pleistocene relic, part canny trout hunter, Nungar Man would roam the granite gorges, impervious to the cold. Never seen or photographed clearly, this creature would nevertheless lead an occasional lucky angler to flyfishing paradise.
Well, on this latest trip to the Snowies with Steve, Nungar Man was front of mind; first because we needed his tolerance of cold during the bitterest, snowiest start to Spring in 20-odd years; and second, because in spite of that, at times it seemed Nungar Man was at our shoulder, pointing us towards exceptional fishing.
We fished a lot at Lake Eucumbene where snow patches lingered to the waterline, exacerbating the sense of barrenness as the water level at just 36% exposed a grey and often featureless scar. Yet even during the truly awful weather of day one, we found a few fish on muddy, wave-swept shores in 20 knot winds – probably yabby feeders (see Rod Allen’s article).
Then an improvement in the conditions on day 2 (still freezing cold but with blue sky and much less wind) found us polaroiding the steep and remote western shores. We sight cast to several monsters, actually managing to land one of those, plus some more modest-sized specimens. A small orange-beaded nymph or stick caddis was usually eaten if presented perfectly.
But it was day 3 when Nungar Man really blessed us; appropriately at Tantangara Reservoir. The day was a blue sky cracker, allowing gloves and beanies to be removed – at least for an hour or two. No, we didn’t have it all our own way. I missed three chances at polaroided beauties, while later, Steve had five solid takes on a Woolly Bugger in 15 minutes for no fish landed. But overall, it was a day to remember. Every spot we tried – from steep bare shores on the eastern side, to marshy bays on the west, produced fish or at least good chances. Later, on the way back to Adaminaby for a hot pub meal, it took a few goes to tally the day’s catch (including some very nice rainbows to go with a couple of cracking browns). That’s always a good sign.
I’ll leave it to Steve to describe today at Frying Pan – he was still in the groove while I had cheerfully let Nungar Man return to his mountain haunts. I decided he’d been generous enough already.