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Water, water everywhere
  |  First Published: November 2016



Normally, at the opening of the trout season, we’re worried we might not have enough water in the streams and lakes to support a decent fishery. That’s not the case this year. We have an abundance of water. The rain started early in the year and has just kept on coming, to the point where they’re now talking about record annual rainfall. In addition, we have a massive mantle of snow remaining in the high country. Together with the flooded sphagnum bogs in the alpine areas, this should provide water for months to come as they melt or drain to the streams.

One good indicator of the amount of rain we’ve had is Lake George. It’s supposed to be Australia’s largest natural freshwater lake, but has been dry for the past twenty years or so. Now, it’s covered by a vast mass of water and is getting deeper day by day. If this keeps up, there could be enough water to last for several years. We should consider stocking it again with golden and silver perch and Murray cod that have done so well in previous years.

Streams Running High

All of the regional trout streams are running high and it wasn’t possible to conduct a pre-season check on fish numbers in some streams this year as we normally do. As always, we hope for the best and that there’s been sufficient natural recruitment and hatchery stocking to provide a good head of browns and rainbows.

Results to date suggest there are some good fish around, with some nice browns in the upper and clearer regions of the Eucumbene, Thredbo and Murrumbidgee rivers. A mix of smaller browns and rainbows are in the Tumut and Goobragandra. A few interesting-sized fish also have been seen in streams that don’t normally carry many or large fish. As they clear they could be worth a look.

As always, flyfishers will have the most success, because it’s easier to manipulate a fly rather than a lure in fast and discoloured water. Nevertheless, it’s worthwhile for lure fishers to persevere if they use noisy or flashy lures such as a Celta, Mepps or Wonder Imp. We’ll have more information as the season progresses.

Mountain Lakes

The mountain lakes are holding good heads of water and are still rising. Fishing has been variable, with most of the fish being taken on bait from the shoreline. PowerBait, scrub worms and wood grubs have been the most effective. Most anglers have managed 1-4 fish in each session.

Flyfishers have taken an occasional fish using dark Woolly Buggers with a little silver flash tied in, or dark and green nymphs. Trolling has been slow for anglers using flat line, but those with lead core line have reported some excellent fish, including several browns over 3kg.

Lakes Full

Regional reservoirs have taken in a lot of water. Wyangala filled and overtopped in August. The whole of the downstream country is now flooded. Fishing in the lake has been good, with hordes of golden perch and some silver perch and catfish feeding around the shoreline, gorging on food washed from the soil.

Burrinjuck also filled and overtopped in September. The rain activity triggered a mass movement of fish initially to the shoreline of the Main Basin, then upstream to the Murrumbidgee arm. Unfortunately, this attracted the meat hunting brigade and there have been some recent incidents of which so-called anglers should be ashamed.

At Good Hope the top end of the Murrumbidgee arm was crowded with bait anglers catching limit bags of golden perch. In some instances, distressingly, they also took more than their legal allowance – sometimes twenty or thirty fish. They also took, illegally, silver perch and undersized out-of-season Murray cod. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Urban Lakes

Canberra’s urban lakes have been turbid and cold for several months. Although they’re now warming, fishing has been slow. Most of the fish caught have been taken on scrubworms or yabbies and the best locations have been Black Mountain Peninsula in Lake Burley Griffin and the top end of Yerrabi Pondage. The annual Big Burley Bash, a 10-week lure fishing contest for golden perch, has just started. It will be interesting to see just how clever our lure fishers can be.

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The mountain lakes are worth a try for flyfishers seeking well-conditioned rainbows, like this fin-clipped two-year old specimen caught using Woolly Buggers and dark or green nymphs.

2

The Burley Bash lure fishing competition for golden perch, in Lake Burley Griffin, runs for ten weeks and will test the ingenuity and skill of the contestants, as the water is still cold and discoloured.

3

Most of the regional lakes have filled and overtopped, providing excellent fishing conditions at the start of summer and hopefully for months afterwards.

4

Trollers in Eucumbene have caught some large browns and rainbows on flat line, but fared even better with lead core line, which gets the lure down to the thermocline where the fish are resting.

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