G’DAY readers, well I must say the 2016 Snowy Mountains Trout Festival was an event dictated by extreme alpine conditions.
The late winter made fishing uncomfortable to say the least, especially for a couple of dopey blokes from Queensland, with myself and like-minded trout-mad mate Rexwell Drop-Punt ditching the board shorts rather quickly for thermals and trackie daks on our annual November fishing trip to the unseasonably snowy region. Our home base was once again Buckenderra Holiday Village situated at the southern end of Lake Eucumbene, giving us access to iconic trout waters.
As usual our stay was blissful thanks to our hosts Jana and Josh and the beautiful surroundings of the area. With perfect trolling conditions on day one of the six-day competition, we both set a cracking pace with some exciting angling action to be had high in the water column in unusually deep water. The majority of the day’s catches were trout sitting at about 5m deep in 60m-plus of water, with both the #84 Black Toad 13g (now a deleted line) and #Y94 Yellow Sunset 7g Tassie Devils taking the chocolates as the go-to lures on the day.
Sadly, perfect trolling conditions were few and far between for the next five days, with wind gusts making the going pretty tough on the lakes and on the fingers as the 5C temperatures and wind chill off the Snowy Mountains put a dampener on our usually high spirits. Now I can’t speak for you, but I will say most fisher folk are a resilient bunch, and when faced with not-so-kind conditions will think outside the square and draw upon their knowledge to extract every advantage they can when Mother Nature says “I know boats”.
With this in mind, we got to work (OK, we did sample some beer) and with grim persistence Rexwell (aka the Bowhunter) took out biggest rainbow on day two on Lake Eucumbene only to be surpassed by a model 190g heavier from Lake Jindabyne that claimed the gorilla! Now with such a close finish, we took solace in the fact a pair of the coveted SMTF beer steins were coming our way for biggest bowy at our weigh-in station… and were christened almost immediately with Bundaberg’s finest rum in celebration.
The next day, with a minor goal and a major headache from the previous one, we set forth into the once-again blustery conditions with fervour, working the windward side of the lake shoreline where safe to do so by trolling in varied depths (love my new downrigger) Rapala F5s, SDD-5s (a must-have), CD5 X-Raps and Tassie Devils in all weights, with Black Toad and Yellow Sunset once again earning their keep, and the majority of catches coming on dusk.
With the breeze not changing for the remainder of the week-long Snowy Mountains Trout Festival, it was pretty much the same going most days. The afternoons provided the excitement, with the hot bites coming between 4.30pm and 7.30pm (you’ve got to love daylight savings) and we were both happy chaps content with the fishing escapades of the week. Competition over, with a couple more days of fishing allocated and no calm days in sight, we decided to head for the hills for sight fishing in the Thredbo River.
What a thrill and an eye opener to actually see large trout and be able to cast straight to them, watching their predatory instincts kick in to follow your presentation. Using Rapala F5, SR5, SDD-5 (make sure you get one) and BXJSD-6 lures and my personal favourite the XR4, we walked for kilometres over the next two days, casting and catching trout with extraordinary markings and tremendous ‘evasion of capture’ skills culminating in one of the most exhilarating team effort catches for us in the last hour of the last day of the trip.
After pegging my favourite XR4 (Olive Green) into the whitewash of a gentle rapid and working it back, it was Rexy who spotted the boil of a hungry trout not far from my position. With a deft flick of the rod and recently learnt skills, I worked the lure to see a beautifully coloured brown trout hit the Rapala hard and with gusto. Bedlam ensued and ‘Thredbo Fred’, as we later nicknamed him, went mental with triple somersaults and pirouettes to the envy of any hard-core gymnast.
With a buckled rod on 8lb trace in snaggy conditions, the freckle was a bit puckered as Freddo wound himself around several submerged tree branches in a staunch stand-off. Enter one Rexwell Drop-Punt with his BCFing ‘special’ extendable net, miraculously scooping a soon to be free brute of a brown. After much rejoicing and high fives, I’ve got to say after 80-plus hours of fishing over 10 days, this last hour (in which we caught two more fighters) was certainly a highlight of the trip.
Enough so, I am entered for the Buckenderra Trout Challenge, a catch and release competition based at Buckenderra Holiday Village from Friday, March 31 to Sunday, April 2. If you’d like to know more or talk about the camping facilities, cabins and villas available, give the park a call on 1800 339 461 or 02 6453 7242. While NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries ensures the Snowy Mountains and surrounding areas are suitably stocked, I applaud the initiative of a fishing competition in the area promoting fish release.
All right folks, I’m Steve Hunt wishing you and yours a happy 2017.