Swinging in the Snowies!

Providence at sunset – always a great end to a day!

I’ve never thought of myself as a swinger, but I can still remember my first successful swing, and many more since – they are after all pretty memorable. I was on the Murrumbidgee at the Outpost with Phil and I saw him do it – a nice brown came fanging out from an undercut and grabbed this big black nymph Phil had cast across the river. Hang on I thought, he cast that downstream! What the!

I don’t do it often, but this weekend I wanted to fish a spot on the Eucumbene that I knew would be popular. When I get this feeling I fish down the river, not down and back up, simply because It’s frustrating when you’ve walked 2 kilometres downstream to find someone else has jumped in when you’re half way back.

Now, a little side thought. I was walking around Sydney with an architect and I mentioned I liked to walk circuits. It’s a psychological thing, if I walk out and back the same way it seems to take longer than a circuit of the same distance. She had a different view and preferred to walk back the same way – because (she said) “You see everything from a different perspective.” So I thought about it, and approached the return trip with that in mind and it’s true. Everything looks different, especially structures and buildings. But I still prefer circuits.

Back to the Eucumbene and it’s the same with rivers. When you walk down onto a pool you’re looking at it very differently from when you’re walking up into a pool. But the same streamcraft rules and assumptions apply, in reverse. And, sometimes, you’re targeting different fish because you’re seeing things differently. Ironically, the first fish I ever caught on a fly was drifting a Peter Ross ‘down’ a riffle. And a few weeks ago I was teasing fish up to the top of a pool (that was completely grown over with tea tree) with a Glo Bug (how many people will admit to that!).

This isn’t a masterclass in swinging but in short you cast across the river, downstream, between 20 and 50 degrees from a line direct to the opposite bank, dropping the suitably weighted nymph right against an undercut bank or lie. Allow enough slack to let the nymph sink and roll along the creek bed, before allowing the line to come tight so the fly can start to swing. You can stop it or slow it with a mend or by slipping a bit of line, but soon enough it will always swing away from the far bank. This is super-visual fishing. If a trout is on to the fly, they can chase it right across the river before grabbing it – or not. Either way it’s pretty exciting. If the fish are into bright flies (especially Glo-Bugs), the visual element of this is amazing. This weekend it was one of Michael’s (you know who you are) big black (or very dark brown) nymphs (BBNs on a size 8 hook) with a small split shot – and even though I didn’t get many, those I did catch followed the script to perfection. It doesn’t always work but it’s always worth a go when all other forms of deception have been exhausted. But I still prefer fishing up a pool. The photographer was in a congenial mood this weekend so the fishing was extra special!

Generally, across the region reports have been mixed. The lower Murrumbidgee and Monaro streams seem to be the pick of the good brown fishing; the Eucumbene River and upper Murrumbidgee and tributaries have been fished hard since opening – but as I always say, persistence pays; and leave no spot unfished.

Lake Eucumbene is creeping up slowly and has broken through 44%. Without heavy rain, 50% still seems a long way off. Providence Flats are just beginning to be fishable. I had a couple of hours there on both Saturday and Sunday evenings and there were plenty of fish rising to midge, beetles (after the Sunday thunderstorm), and a magical spinner drop right on Saturday dusk. Some excellent reports from around Buckenderra.  Jindabyne is up at 84%. A steady rise over three months with good reports of browns on the banks, but with rainbows a bit scarce. Tantangara rising steadily at 24% (and it is still my pick of the lakes if you drive past the dam wall, past Currango Station on the Port Phillip Fire Trail, and back down the eastern shore of the lake).

Final thing, a first look at the Snowy Trout Festival catch data suggests the average size of rainbows is pretty low compared to previous years. An indicator it’s time for the regulators to get their finger out and finally do something perhaps. There is a lake strategy meeting in early December so hopefully they will take the opportunity to both announce a proper review, and to start to collect some much-needed data to help decision making. But what we need most right now are some decisions, any decisions, to protect what we have. Remember, “someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago”.

Tight tippets all.

Steve (Snowy Lakes Fly Fishing Charters)

And they still run up the pool – even when you hook them downstream!