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Gone Fishing: The 'virus' affecting anglers on Australia Day

Normally quiet fishing spots in the mountains and at the coast were surprisingly busy this week, mostly with anglers who normally would be at work but were all affected by the same "gottacatchafish'' virus that has infected the public service and other work places.

Consequently, although employers might not have been satisfied, the anglers certainly were, with good catches reported from almost all areas.

Streams filling

Thunderstorms throughout the region, with hail and heavy rain, pepped up all the local streams. In the lower country with a higher erosion potential, the streams quickly became turbid and unfishable, but in the higher country the flows were high, clear and fishable.

Trout responded quickly, foraging for nymphs and surface food throughout the day. Dry beetle patterns were successful in some streams but as the sun dried out the landscape grasshoppers became the prime target. Banged down hard to simulate the landing of a natural insect, hopper patterns can attract fish from some distance away and it pays to wait for some time before lifting the fly off the water for the next cast.

Favourite streams for hopper fishing at the moment include the upper Murrumbidgee, Moonbah, Eucumbene, Thredbo and Yarrangobilly but many of the smaller streams are also worth a try.

Larger waters worthwhile

Stream fishing is often the preferred method for fly and lure anglers because of the anticipation of "what's around the next corner" but sometimes lake fishing is more reliable and productive and the fish larger.


Eucumbene, Jindabyne and Tantangara are all fishing well at the moment, for trollers, bait, lure and fly fishers. Throughout the day trollers are taking some excellent rainbows to about 1.5kg and browns to about 2kg.The most effective approach has been to use flatline early in the morning then lead core line later as the fish go deeper. Try Tasmanian Devils then small hard-bodied minnow patterns and Wonder spoons trolled mostly at slow to medium speed. Good locations include around Anglers Reach in Eucumbene, East Jindabyne and Kalkite in Jindabyne and near the mouth of the Murrumbidgee in Tantangara.

Bait fishers using wood grubs, scrub worms and Power Bait and Power Bait most usefully fish deeper water during sunny periods then shallower areas after dark. Useful areas at the moment include Seven Gates in Eucumbene, East Jindabyne at Jindabyne and the basin nearest to the dam wall at Tantangara.

Fly fishers have fared well this week at Yens Bay and Providence Flats in Eucumbene, Hatchery Bay in Jindabyne and along the left hand bank at Tantangara. Night fishing, using Woolly Buggers, Woolly Worms, Craigs Nighttime and Mrs Simpson has been especially productive.

Feed of yabbies

This is prime time for a feed of yabbies from the mountain lakes. Yabby traps cannot be used in trout waters except for a special provision for their use in Jindabyne and Eucumbene, where anglers can legally use five hoop traps each. There are plenty of yabbies available and traps can be set just a few metres offshore. There is no size limit and up to 200 yabbies can be brought home by each angler.

Try fresh meat for bait, or a pierced tin of cat or dog food. As a rare exception, also, European carp flesh can be used as bait. This is the only occasion on which carp can be used as bait in fresh water.

Mixed bags

At the coast estuary and offshore fishing is at it's height. Anglers reliably report good bags of bream, flathead, whiting and blackfish in the estuaries, with prawns becoming larger each week. Offshore there are snapper in the early morning and morwong, flathead and pig fish bulking up the bags. Striped marlin have arrived in force on and beyond the 100 fathom line at Bermagui and more blues and blacks are expected soon.