The tragic death of a young girl bitten by an eastern brown snake at Walgett this week is a timely reminder of the risks anglers in the Canberra-Monaro district routinely face in their ventures into lake and stream environments. Locally there are red bellied black, copperhead and brown snakes, with lesser numbers of tigers. All are venomous, but rarely aggressive and they usually move out of the way when disturbed. Most anglers are protected by wearing gaiters, long trousers or waders but are obviously less protected in bare feet or when wearing shorts. Most bites occur when somebody attempts to interfere with a snake by trying to pick it up or kill it with a stick or other weapon, but occasionally someone gets bitten by unwittingly stepping on or near a snake when quietly along a grassy or bushy stream bank.
I'm probably not the best person to offer advice on what to do if and when you are bitten, having suffered one bite from a red bellied black and another from a brown during my fishing career, but the proper procedure is to apply a compression bandage to the wound then send for help. If you are fishing alone you have no option but to walk or drive until you can get assistance, but this can greatly increases the severity of the outcome. In most instances, however, common sense and general snake awareness ensures you do not get bitten in the first place.
Lake fish active
Fly fishers have enjoyed some good fishing for larger browns and rainbows at Lake Eucumbene. The fish have been moving into the shallows in the late afternoon and feeding into the night, providing good opportunities for anglers to reach them with big wet and dry flies. Jorge Aguirre was one of a number of anglers who scored big fish this week, using Woolly Buggers and Muddler Minnows on a weight forward floating line. He landed fish to about 2kg and had one spectacularly large fish do several big jumps before it threw the hook.
Fly fishers exploring the upper reaches of the Eucumbene River this week were surprised to find some outsized rainbows amongst the resident browns in the larger pools and rapids. Rainbows of this size and number are not expected in the river at this time of the year and anglers are puzzled at their presence. It is assumed they are up there chasing food such as grasshoppers but this is just a guess. They were reluctant to take a fly although some made a half-hearted pass at a brown nymph, the same fly which later was taken readily by several of the browns.
Large discharges of water from Burrinjuck Reservoir for downstream irrigation has brought the level down to almost 50 per cent of capacity and Murray cod fishing has quietened as a consequence. A few smaller fish have been caught but the larger fish seem content to feed on carp, redfin and other goodies and ignore lures and baits.
Golden perch seem to have gone deeper this week, gathering mostly around flooded trees. Shrimps and small yabbies have been the best baits but some good specimens were caught on soft plastics. Black and pumpkin seed grubs have been the most effective. Trolling has been less effective but as always Jackalls and Burrinjuck Specials are worth a try.
Redfin have formed into large schools and can be found throughout the reservoir, with the best concentrations in the main body of the lake. Celtas and Hogbacks are among the best of the lures.
Its prawning time at the coast, with good reports from numerous estuaries this week. Coila was the best location with plenty of good-sized prawns showing just after dark and another lot showing just after one a.m. All that is needed is a simple waterproof torch and a dip net, and of course something to cook the prawns in at the end of the night. Highly recommended for a night out.