Over the 6th and 7th of May, I was fortunate to fish in the NSW river comp which was held on the Tumut river. During much of the year, the Tumut runs very high, around 5000ML/day or more due to irrigation demand. However, in autumn it can drop back to 900ML/day, which is a perfect level to fish. Thanks to NSW Water for controlling the water at the perfect level for the competition.
The Tumut river holds plenty of well-conditioned rainbows, averaging around 30cm, with a good number of equally well-conditioned browns. Over the two days of the comp, anglers caught and released a remarkable total of 528 trout, the largest of which was a 54cm brown. Such was the high catch rate, to win a session, a competitor needed to catch a minimum of 11 fish in a 2 hour session. As is usually the case, the more experienced anglers caught most of the fish, irrespective of beat draws. This reinforces the importance of good technique and a systematic approach to fishing the water. Interestingly, the top 4 placed anglers were the same as in the previous year’s competition.
Most fish were caught long line nymphing (also known as French Nymphing) with a 2-nymph rig. I used a flashy team initially, incorporating fluoro tags, combined with silver and metallic pink tungsten beads fished on 0.14mm diameter tippet. As the fishing got harder over the course of the competition and session, I changed to lighter tippet at 0.1mm and smaller, drabber nymphs with nickel and dull copper beads. (Winner of the Tumut River comp, Stewart Dick, has written a feature on bead selection in the next issue of FlyStream Magazine, due out in a couple of weeks.)
Many takes came when jigging the flies at the end of the drift, just before they started to rise in the water. On some beats, the water was quite uniform in nature without any obvious holding spots. Swinging through a team of small flashy nymphs or soft hackles was a very effective way to find where the concentrations of trout were holding. Once found, you could return to these spots and nymph up more fish. (See my article ‘Swinging Wets’ in the upcoming issue of FlyStream Magazine.)
As a bonus, I stayed on after the comp and enjoyed some great dry fly fishing in the evening to rising brownies.
Many thanks to the organisers and landowners for their efforts and making sections of the river available. For the regular recreational angler, there is good access to the river, with some of the best fishing being found right in the township of Tumut.