WHAT a trout season it has been on Eucumbene River with Narooma district locals taking the hills to bag one of the plentiful and on occasion massive browns.
But it’s all over now with the trout closure coming into force after this June long weekend.
Scott Bradley from Bermagui Bait and Tackle called yesterday and broached the subject of the possibility of one last trip for the season.
As tempting as it was to rush up to the magic stretch of river today, cool heads prevailed not only when we thought about the potential hordes of angler from Canberra and further afield, but also because of the cool waters.
The best capture I heard of was local Andy Caves who got an 11-pounder during a session of literally dozens of fish.
Scott touched on the techniques is one of his recent reports.
“A number of Bermagui fishers have been frequenting the mountains to pursue trout on fly and one group was well rewarded last weekend landing some 22 fish over 3lb, most for release,” Scott wrote in his May 16 report.
“Fishing wet flies in the Providence Arm of Lake Eucumbene was hard work but well worthwhile, as long as you are prepared to be at your preferred spot an hour before sun up (4.30am), so it is not taken by another keen fisho.
“Canberra based customer Nick Raey landed one of two trophy fish that we know of from the weekend of 11lb as shown.
“Sometimes it’s not the fish you catch but where it can take you, but an 11lb Brown Trout is certainly a worthy capture.”
It is amazing to think these spawning brown trout caught in the river running out of the lake are “wild fish” that have thrived in the lake for more than 20 years.
The fish are up on the way to spawn and I understand an egg-pattern fly is the go.
This is also the pattern used to fish for wild trout in Alaska, a technique I first learned about while working at the fishing lodge on the Kulik River of Katmai National Park.
Back then we actually used plastic beads that the guides embellished with nail polish to make them look just like the salmon eggs the wild rainbows were feeding on.
I had an interesting conversation the other day with my old mate and retired fisheries biologist Richard Tilzey, who actually studied the Eucumbene browns all the way back in the mid 1970s.
Tilzey reckons even back then there were more than enough browns passing the Providence Portal where they have been schooling up and are targeted by the anglers.
Successfully anger Andy Caves experienced that this year when what he thought was a large shadow in the water turned out to be a huge school of migrating browns.
Anglers have been staking out their favourite pools and the strategy is to get there before daybreak and wait in the water for enough daylight to start fishing.
Apparently there always are a few arguments and this year one there was one angler who set up a tent next to his chosen spot but then slept in only to fine some other angler in his water. A few choice words ensued apparently.
The following from a 2007 Department of Primary Industries report into the trout populations of the Snowy Mountains:
“The results from the five-year study suggest that both rainbow and brown trout populations of Lake Jindabyne and Eucumbene are in excellent condition.
Spawning fish all displayed high condition factors and migrated in good numbers during each year of sampling. Information from angler catch returns demonstrates that the recreational fishery is healthy; and that annual catch rates are consistent and vary little among years.
These results suggest that stocking should continue at the present rates, as there are no signs of population distress in either water body.
In Lake Jindabyne, current stockings of 50,000 rainbow trout per annum appear adequate to maintain the population. In Lake Eucumbene, the current rate of 150,000 should also continue. No brown trout have been stocked into either water body for almost 20 years and the species appears to have maintained self- sustaining populations over that time. Therefore, there is no immediate requirement to stock brown trout into either lake.”
Winter trout spawning closure starts June 12
The June long weekend will be the last chance for fishers to bag a trout in designated trout streams and rivers across NSW, as the fishing season closes in these waters over winter.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) Senior Fisheries Manager Inland, Cameron Westaway, said the annual closure starts on Tuesday 12 June and will end in time for the October long weekend on Saturday 29 September.
“This closure enables brown, rainbow and brook trout to breed uninterrupted during their annual spawning run, while allowing trout fishers to fish over both the June and October long weekends,” Mr Westaway said.
“It is an offence to fish in trout streams during the closed season and any persons found fishing can be issued with on-the-spot fines of $500.
“Fisheries officers will be patrolling the State’s waterways to ensure that fishers are adhering to these regulations.”
Mr Westaway said that fishers can continue fishing for trout during the annual closure, without breaking the rules, at any of the trout dams across the State that have been stocked as part of the NSW DPI fish stocking program.
“Popular winter fishing spots include Lakes Jindabyne and Eucumbene, Oberon Dam near Bathurst, Tantangara and Talbingo Dams near Tumut, and Lake Wallace and Thompson’s Creek Dam near Lithgow,” he said.
“NSW DPI, in conjunction with local acclimatisation societies, has been stocking trout dams and rivers in NSW for many years.
“During the 2011/12 season, around 2.9 million trout were stocked in NSW waterways, consisting of two million rainbow trout, 600,000 brown trout, 225,000 Atlantic salmon and 40,000 brook trout.
“Fishers heading to one of the trout dams are reminded that they are required to have a current NSW recreational fishing licence on them at all times while fishing.”
Detailed information on all fishing rules can be found on the NSW DPI website www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries, or in the 2012 NSW Freshwater Fishing Guide available from NSW DPI offices and most bait and tackle stores.
Bass, perch closure in place over winter
Another closure a lot closer to home is now also in force.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) is reminding anglers that the three-month ban on taking Australian bass and estuary perch from all rivers and estuaries in NSW will commence on June 1.
NSW DPI Inland Senior Fisheries Manager, Cameron Westaway, said the zero bag limit was introduced after feedback from the community during the three-year review into recreational fishing rules.
“The zero bag limit is designed to protect these great native sports fish species while they spawn,” Mr Westaway said.
“Both Australian bass and estuary perch form schools and migrate to parts of estuaries with the right salinity to trigger spawning.
“These important recreational fish are vulnerable to fishing when they are in large groups.”
Mr Westaway said the three month ban did not close any waters to fishing and would not affect anglers fishing for other estuary species, such as bream or flathead.
“Any Australian bass or estuary perch caught must be immediately returned to the water with the least possible harm," Mr Westaway said.
“Fisheries officers will be increasing their patrols of bass and estuary perch waters to advise anglers on fishing rules and to enforce size and bag limits for other species.
“Anyone caught retaining Australian bass or estuary perch can be issued with an on the spot penalty of $500.”
Mr Westaway said the zero bag limit does not apply to Australian bass and estuary perch caught in freshwater impoundments and dams, as they do not breed in these areas.
"All fish in freshwater impoundments, like Glenbawn Dam and Glennies Creek Dam in the Hunter Valley, Brogo Dam near Bega and Clarrie Hall and Toonumbar Dams in the northeast are stocked fisheries, and anglers may continue to fish for these species in those waters all year round," he said.
"NSW DPI stocks approximately 150,000 Australian bass in impoundments each year from our hatchery at Port Stephens Fisheries Institute, and also helps angling and community groups buy more than 100,000 Australian bass fingerlings each year for stocking under the Dollar-for-Dollar Native Fish Stocking program.”
Detailed information on fishing rules can be found on the www.fisheries.nsw.gov.au and at NSW DPI fisheries offices and most bait and tackle stores.