After a not so successful Anzac Day trip to Bemm River in 2012, where we got flooded off the water, this year we made the decision (after weeks of deliberating) to head to Lake Eucumbene in the Snowy Mountains of Southern NSW. Most commonly known for its towering snow capped peaks, alpine resorts and wild roaming brumbies, it was an attraction of different sort that brought us to the area.
Lake Eucumbene is the largest of the lakes in the Snowy Mountains Scheme, and was constructed by damming the Eucumbene River in 1956. At full capacity, the lake holds an incredible amount of water, some 4,798,400ML. For those that struggle with big numbers that’s equivilent to 9 times that of Sydney Harbor.
Every year towards the end of Autumn the brown trout congregate in preparation to spawn. The spawning run is so successful here that they have established self sustaining population, neither the lake nor the river have been stocked with brown trout in the past 20 years.
Leaving Melbourne at 5am on Thursday, we headed North towards the border, the drive for the most part is pretty boring, those that have traveled the Hume before will be able to attest to this, its not until you leave the highway and head towards Tumut, where the scenery starts changing as too does the elevation. You know your getting high when the lines on the road change from white to yellow and the side of the road is covered in little red poles. After winding our way through the hills and passing a few fishy looking locations along the way, we arrived at the Anglers Reach Lakeside Village some 8hrs after leaving.
Checking in, we unloaded our gear and rigged a few rods. hitting the water soon after at around 3pm. After receiving some advice from a mate on where to start, we motored off to a likely looking spot and started trolling. No more than 20 seconds after the first lure hit the water, my rod buckled over and after a brief fight, the fish was in the boat and we had our first Eucumbene brown on board.
Although we tried a variety of techniques, trolling was the most effective technique for us, allowing us to cover water and target actively feeding fish. We soon discovered that the bite window for these fish was incredibly short. The bright sunny conditions that we had over the weekend probably didn’t help our situation. Although the action didn’t last long, when the fish were on, the fishing was pretty hot, averaging 8 fish a session, most coming within a 1 hour window.
There’s not many places on the mainland where when hook and land a 4lb trout you chuck it back over the side as if it were a fingerling. However after fishing a few sessions and discovering the quality of the fish that were available, that’s just what happened. A fish you would spend all weekend trying to catch at Lake Eildon, was quickly tossed back without a photo so we could get our lures back into the water to maximize the bite window.
The coloration of the fish in this lake is nothing short of amazing, as we would find out over the next few days, no one fish looked the same. Each fish would vary greatly in appearance to the next, especially the males some with dark golden backs covered in spots to others quite pale with near bare flanks.
One thing that was left to be desired by the fish we encountered was their fighting ability. With the fish being in such great condition, the fight they put up was very “underwhelming”. Long runs and jumps were instead replaced with wide thrashing head shakes and eel like rolls, whether this is something to do with them being in spawning mode or some other reason, they definitely could have put up a better account for themselves, the upside to this however is that if you do happen to hook a decent fish, you have a pretty good chance of landing it, if you take your time and play it out.
Although our introduction to Eucumbene was only quite short we did managed to get onto some pretty awesome fish and the surrounding scenery is equally as great. With the best fishing still yet to come I’m sure it wont be our last trip up there.
I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.
PHOTOS: PETER HOWELL