A very fine Easter!

The Easter weekend is a bookend for the summer’s trout fishing. A time when like the weather, and the shorter days, tactics change. Trout behave differently now.  If summer is the good times for trout with an abundant variety of insects and other aquatic critters to feast on, autumn heralds leaner pickings. It’s also when trout start to think of the rivers and the gravel beds in which they’ll prepare their redds, nests to protect their eggs for the four to six weeks before they hatch into alevins. These tiny fish are just a few millimetres long with a bright orange external yolk sac which will feed them whilst they spend the next three to four weeks deeper in the gravel before emerging as small fry. So, the fish have sex on their mind, and they’re often hungry. The condition they’ve put on during summer has been used to develop their roe and milt and they’re definitely trying to keep that condition until they’ve done their thing and made sure there will be more fish next year.

Good Friday was spent on the boat on Lake Eucumbene.  We launched at Anglers Reach and headed to Providence.  The bay to the east of the portal is usually my first stop off and it was chilly at 30 knots so I pulled up to catch some warm sun, sheltered from the light northerly breeze. The water had some colour and the litter of small insects in the surface film said the wind had been banging into the bay earlier in the day. A few small rises suggested there might be a rainbow or two hanging around and I was right. They attacked the fly, a small black WB, but only on quite a fast retrieve on an intermediate line. They weren’t big but they were in good condition and mirror silver as they flashed in the sunlight in the shallows.

I spotted Royce fishing loch style across the bay – the only Quintrex with a mammoth black Mercury hanging off the back – so I thought I’d move in on his water. Whatever you see that boat doing, it’s always good to copy. The breeze was light with the occasional bit of bluster and was now north with a bit of east in it. Not enough to justify using the drogue and you could pretty much fish 360 degrees around the boat. A pair of white breasted sea eagles sat in a tree top – and I saw what they saw. Two shapes porpoising against the western bank. Of course I went to look, but of course they moved off – the fish and the eagles. Then the fish showed again 200 metres along the bank, heading towards the river. Typical pre spawning behaviour – one part of me wanted to sneak up on them with the electric motor, another was happy to leave them alone.

I was fishing a long leader with two big woolly buggers, a blingy black bead head, and a firey red tungsten cone head, on an intermediate line. The kind of rig you can’t use easily from the shore without dredging the mud and losing the odd fly.  I should mention the lake is at 49% and has been dropping steadily for weeks now. There’s a muddy scar and no weed – depressing fish habitat.

There are lots of good bays between Providence and Anglers Reach and as I picked my way back to the ramp I fished two of them.  The first was just around the bend from Providence, before the first stand of timber on the western shore.  A wide muddy soak designed for this wind. First drift I hooked a cracking brown. As the fish came alongside the boat I posed as Crissie got the camera out, rod up, fish lying on its side – a perfect image. The fish had other ideas – taking another dive for freedom.  I had no choice but to let the rod tip drop or risk snapping it at that stupid angle. With slack line the fish took a turn around the motor skeg – gave one last flick and headed off with both flies – so no pic.

On the steep eastern shore there are a handful of small soaks and as I cruised past I spotted a rise and headed in to fish from the shore. I persisted with the intermediate line with very deep water right to the shore, but then several good boiling rises to the scattering of orange backed plague soldier beetles on the water had me scuttling back to the boat for my floating line and the orange beetle pattern.  As often happens, and despite there being plenty more beetles, another 20 minutes and not a single rise.  A quick note on plague solider beetles. On a charter in Copper Mine Bay last Spring the shore was covered in millions of them. The lake was rising then, and they were on any rock that might give them protection from the rising waters, huge masses of them as big as your fist.  We spread thousands of them onto the water to see if the fish were interested and with one exception – a boil right at the bag of the boat within seconds of putting out the “berley”, we saw no interest – these beetles exude a white sticky fluid to deter predators so maybe they don’t taste that good.

Saturday was a day at Caddigat with Phil and David.  A later start than usual so we could spend some time and money at the Adaminaby Easter fair – what a great day, hundreds of cars parked all the way from the BP to the Ampol on any square foot of grass.

Caddigat Lakes look great with enough rain to green up the pasture. Dixieland and Kidney are full after we’d pumped the week before, the blue skies occasionally greyed off, and the wind was a gentle nor’easter.

We parked the cars and walked the whole afternoon fishing Dixieland, Midway, Spring (which is clearing nicely), Snaggy and Kidney. We caught 6 beautiful rainbows but David blanked on his first trip (for no good reason really) – one break off, a couple of long distance releases, and some superb follows and boils in Dixie right on dark.  The fly of the day was that blingy black WB – which I’d just tied on as an attractor for the variety of much smaller point flies I’d tried committedly during the day.

Sunday I went for a look at the Eucumbene river with Col and Ian.  A lot of anglers were buzzing around the kilometre or so up and down from Denison camp site, with other “illegal” camp sites everywhere. Four wheel drives roared around and to and fro across the river, lots of activity but we didn’t see a fish caught.

There’s a good flow and the water temperature is down to 16 degrees. We fished the last two hours right at the river mouth.  I could count 17 anglers, some bait fishing, some boat, and a whole gaggle of shore based fly fishers – that equals 34 hours of fishing effort and not one fish. Eucumbene is a hard mistress all the time but some days she’s just plain tough!

So where did I start this? Fish behave differently in autumn,  food is getting scarce, and you can induce an aggression response from charged up fish – so mix up the flies. I think you can generally use bigger flies and the fish don’t mind a bit of colour and bling, especially orange (try the mark II and the tinsel black woolly buggers). The go-to retrieve on Eucumbene is very slow, verging on static. When they’re hungry, and in pre spawning mode try a strip strip pause or a fast roley-poley retrieve. And of course don’t forget to pop into the Adaminaby Angler and stock up on a few glow bugs and good advice for next month.  Remember, from 1 May the rules on the Eucumbene and Thredbo Rivers change – a bag limit of just one fish and it must be over 50 centimetres.  In my view that should be from 1 April – food for thought next time the fishing regs come around for review?

Today, Monday, I can’t make up my mind.  I really want to go to Tantangara which is green to the shore line and steady at 26% – but can’t find a play mate so far.

Last thing, I know the blogs are reducing in number – and there are a couple or reasons.  Firstly, if I’ve nothing much to write about I don’t write. Second, the charter trips are down this year partly because the lake has been fishing erratically which I think is why inquiries are down a lot from last year, but also partly because I’ve been doing other interesting work. Everything finds its balance.

Tight Tippets!