Now that the weather is warming and fish activity is increasing, I’ll be revitalising this blog, updating it weekly and adding reports as they come to hand. Please keep a look-out for future posts throughout spring and summer.
The leaves are falling, and so are the temperatures, but trout anglers’ fortunes continue to rise at a rapid rate.
We’re reaching the pointy end of the trout season, which seems to be saving its best for last. The number of fish being caught in the mountains on all methods is very encouraging; the size and quality of fish is also turning heads.
Trolling at Eucumbene has yielded some superb brown trout to 3kg. Buckenderra, Anglers Reach and the Seven Gates area have all been good.
At Jindabyne, reports have been very positive from the Creel Bay end of the lake. Trollers are taking big browns and pan-sized rainbows, and fly anglers have been faring well around the margins on dark.
The Kalkite end of the lake is also worth exploring, especially if you’re bait-fishing or trolling.
After such a wet spell, it’s hard to believe that anglers are hoping for a little more rain in May to entice the spawn-run browns into the Thredbo River.
Water levels in the river are low and the fish have become wary. The best catches have been on diving hard-bodied minnows, including Stumjumpers and Rapalas. Try patterns featuring a splash of orange, red or yellow as fish at this time of the year often strike out of pure aggression.
Remember, from 1 May, anglers fishing the Thredbo and Eucumbene rivers can only keep 1 fish over 50cm per day. The river fishing season closes atmidnighton 13 June.
Canberra’s lakes and rivers are clearing nicely and there might still be time to squeeze in a productive spin session before it gets too cold for natives.
The largest golden perch I’ve ever seen taken from Lake Burley Griffin fell for a lure fished at Black Mountain Peninsular in early May, so it’s certainly not too late.
“Brilliant” has been a word used a fair bit of late to describe the state of the trout fishing in the mountain lakes and streams.
Trolling at both Eucumbene and Jindabyne has been simply sensational. Plump, plate-sized rainbow trout have been the principal catch, although big browns are causing some nervous moments for those fishing with light gear.
Kenrick Winchester and a few mates trolled Kalkite recently for a nice spread of rainbows to 50cm. The majority were caught on blue and purple Tasmanian Devils. A handful also took Orange Powerbait fished from the bank at night.
It’s worth noting that NSW Maritime were patrolling the lake and fined one of Kenrick’s party $250 for having too few lifejackets on board his boat. Check your safety gear before heading out!
Baitfishing has been very productive in both lakes. Mudeyes are starting to come into their own, although anglers are still landing plenty on Powerbait and worms.
Fly anglers have been hauling them in around Buckenderra and Middlingbank, with rainbows to 1.5kg and browns to 2kg reported.
Wyangala Dam is full and fishing steadily for natives from the bank. Jimmy Savitsky recently soaked some worms from the shore near the Grabine end of the lake and was rewarded with some solid golden perch weighing between 750g and 1.5kg.
The fish were in superb nick and it’s the first time in many years that Jimmy has fished the dam without encountering scores of undersized perch.
It might be cooling down at a rapid rate, but there are still plenty of “summer” species on offer in the south coast estuaries.
Lake Tuross is fishing very well for flathead and whiting towards the front of the system. You’ll get both species on baits and lures.
Some massive kingfish over 20kg have been reported around Montague Island on live baits, although they are very hit-and-miss.
It is the season for trophy trout as the big fish that reside in the mountain lakes head for the rivers to spawn.
Brown trout are traditionally the first to leave the lakes, but anglers fishing the Eucumbene and Thredbo rivers report unusually large numbers of rainbows in the streams, which is very odd.
Few are complaining, though, with fish up to two kilos providing loads of fun on nymphs and the occasional dry fly.
The main run of rainbows are under 500 grams but all are fighting fit and smacking flies with gusto.
Even though the first snow flurries of the year aren’t too far away, the very high altitude streams are still well worth a fish, with insects active in the heat of the day.
While trollers are getting a few fish in the lakes on flatlines in the early morning, trout are going as deep as 15 metres below the surface during the day. The key to finding a school is to experiment with lure patterns and trolling depths.
There are few guarantees in fishing but, right now, if you fish a nice south coast surf gutter or rock platform at daybreak you are virtually guaranteed a feed of tailor – they’re literally everywhere.
Fish with whole pilchards on ganged hooks for half-an-hour either side of daybreak and you should have enough for the barbecue. The bag limit for tailor is 20 fish per angler and the minimum size is 30cm.
Bream are another species around in large numbers. Big yellowfin bream are being caught on bait in the Moruya River and there are some very nice specimens on the nearby beaches. These guys are falling for fresh beachworms, which are also scoring their fair share of whiting.
Ashley Leggott kayaked the Clyde River near Nelligen for bream recently but was rewarded instead with two nice estuary perch – both on soft plastics.
Flooded waterways on the south coast have started to clear up and fish are coming back on the bite in a big way.
The lower reaches of most estuaries are fishing really well for flathead, provided anglers use lures with plenty of colour or noise.
The fish are mainly school-sized duskies around the 40-50cm mark, but they’re around in large numbers and are eagerly smashing brightly-coloured plastics or rattling hard-bodied lures. Vibes are working well too.
At Moruya, the rock-wall at the river mouth is producing lots of nice bream and salmon. Tailor are also relishing the discoloured conditions, using the cloudy water to ambush their prey. Good catches have been reported from the rocks and beaches, with fish prepared to bite through the day.
Small metal lures will do the job, but anglers fishing with whole pilchards on a gang of three #5/0 hooks are experiencing the greatest success.
Lake Tuross received a major flush-out and is fishing very well around the mouth. Bream, salmon and the occasional mulloway have been reported.
Wallaga Lake is also fishing extremely well between the bridge and mouth for bream, flathead, whiting and tailor.
Offshore, the water temperature is still around 21 degrees and a few good kingfish and snapper have been taken around Montague Island.
Freshwater fishos have been getting some pretty good yellowbelly and cod at Wyangala Dam. Trolling deep-divers and bait-fishing from the flooded shoreline are both worthwhile techniques.
Burrinjuck is worth a troll for small cod, yellowbelly and redfin. Googong, meanwhile, is producing large number of good-sized redfin.
A lot of trout anglers have been focusing on the rivers and most have been rewarded with good browns and rainbows. The Thredbo, Eucumbene and Murrumbidgee rivers have been fishing especially well, with lures and flies both effective.
You can’t tell fish what to do. You can’t tell them they’re defying the rules or breaking with convention.
You can’t tell them they’re not supposed to be behaving a certain way, or that they’re not acting like fish should act.
All you can do it sit back and enjoy the fact that fish – and fishing – are so unpredictable.
The unusual run of late season rainbows trout into the rivers is an example of the finicky nature of fishing.
Sure, trout are supposed to be in pre-spawn mode at this time of the year, and it’s far from unusual for large numbers to enter the streams in April or May.
But brown trout – not rainbows – are supposed to enter the rivers first. Browns are the fish we target in late autumn and early winter, with trophy fish on the cards every season. Rainbows, on the other hand, don’t tend to go into pre-pawn mode until winter or even spring.
Clearly, this year, the fish are very confused.
Anglers fishing the blue-ribbon trout river like the Thredbo, Eucumbene and upper Murrumbidgee all report very good numbers of hungry rainbow trout – and few browns.
It’s a similar story in river like the Tumut and some of the smaller waterways at higher altitudes.
The rainbows range from runts around the 250 gram mark to big silver bullets approaching two kilograms.
They’re hitting a range of flies, including nymphs and dry flies. They’re also suckers for a small, well-presented lure.
Excellent catches have been recorded, with some anglers landing up to 20 fish per session, and losing just as many again.
So instead of scratching your heads at the strange and unseasonable behaviour of the region’s rainbow trout population – take advantage of the situation.
Hit some of the alpine rivers and streams soon and cash in on the unpredictable nature of this sport we all love so much.
Heavy rain has played havoc with the fishing on the south coast, but the long-term effects on all forms of angling will be very positive.
At the time of writing, many systems are carrying a lot of fresh, muddy water, making them a challenge to fish. Some, like the Bega River, which flooded, are unfishable for the time being.
While discoloured, if you can fish towards the mouths of rivers like the Moruya and Clyde, or Lake Tuross, you will find fish.
I recently had some success by fishing the edge of a “scum” line, where clean water met dirty, near the entrance to the Moruya River.
Fishing with large, brightly-coloured soft plastics, I found large numbers of flathead hovering around the edge of the murk.
Graham Herbert at Moruya also reports schools of chopper tailor being caught in the same area.
Bream don’t mind a bit of “colour” in the water either and are worth targeting on small soft plastics, hard-bodies and fresh baits like nippers and fish flesh.
Off the rocks and beaches, it continues to be the “year of the tailor” with more and more fish being caught, including some monsters in excess of 80cm. Whole pilchards fished on ganged hooks or small metals slugs are equally effective.
Bait and lure anglers will also pick up big salmon and plenty of bonito off the rocks. The water temperature is dropping ever so slowly, but still remains above 21 degrees in most areas.
Reports of big brown trout taking large trolled lures around the Waste Point area of Lake Jindabyne indicate it won’t be long before increasing numbers of pre-spawn fish enter the rivers.
In the meantime, Steve Williamson reports excellent catches of rainbow trout on lure and fly in the Thredbo River, which is in superb condition.