NSW Trout Strategy Workshop

Eucumbene river in the NSW Snowy Mountains

My brother Robert and I are long term members of Lakeside fly fishing club; Robert also being a member of Monaro Acclimation Society and living part time in the Jindabyne region.

We are both passionate trout fly fishermen concerned for the future viability
of our sport. Over the last decade we all have noticed a steady decline in the amount of fish, particularly rainbow trout in the Monaro region in general.

Another concern is the increasing amount of sand particularly in the Thredbo River, damaging spawning gravel river beds; the levels of sand being the result of the devastating bush fires over a decade ago.

Sand extraction companies have indicated that they would pump sand out of the river at no cost and possibly a small royalty could be obtained. One such location to remove the deposits at minimum environmental impact would be Paddy’s Corner.

The traditional rainbow trout spawning run in early spring has become relatively non existent in recent years, by comparison to say a decade ago.

What are the reasons for this considerable reduction in fish numbers?

Recently while on a fishing trip to the Ebor region our group visited the Dutton trout hatchery and were shown around the extensive facility. A very helpful person answered many questions and advised that all the rainbow trout released in the NSW rivers and dams were produced at that hatchery.

It appeared that mature rainbow stock held at the hatchery are stripped of milt and eggs to produce the fish that are then released at various ages by fishing clubs and also sent to Gaden Hatchery for their release program.

Why are so many of the rainbows in particular, not living to maturity? I have heard 1 in 1000 survive to that stage. Is it the method of release and their age at that time or are such factors as being spawned from hatchery and not wild trout that has an effect?

We all know that rainbows are easier targets for cormorants and predators other than brown trout. Maybe rainbow and brown trout should not be released until they are older to obtain a more acceptable chance of reaching maturity.

Also releasing fish in broad day light at boat ramps with cormorants present, seems a contributing factor to the very low maturity rate of these fish.

Surely releasing fish at numerous places on the rivers and a higher percentage released at night would increase the maturity rate. I am sure many of the fishing clubs would be happy to assist in the distribution of hopefully larger say 25 to 30cm trout.

The fishing industry is of major importance to the tourist industry and the economy in general in the high country regions of NSW. Something must be done to rectify the current situation.

Alan and Robert Steege

Update: Robert and I attended the Jindabyne DPI Trout Strategy Workshop on the 17th May. Ninety people attended, 75% of whom were recreational anglers each with up to sixty years experience fishing for trout in this region.

The DPI recognises that fish numbers, particularly Rainbow Trout and also current stocking practises require review.

The department has employed a number of scientists to assist this study, they tended to blame a lot of the problem on climate change.

The fishos who spoke talked about current stocking practices, particularly the release of fry and fingerlings which has a very poor success rate. Generally the consensus of participants wanted larger say 25-30 cm fish released and controlled releases including night time to allow a greater chance of survival.

Gaden Hatchery were not in favour of a change in release times, saying the costs of night time releases were prohibitive and the weaker fish would be the ones at most risk.

It’s difficult to predict the outcome of this trout strategy, money is being provided by DPI, so hopefully there will be some positive results.


Lakeside and Woolly buggers descend on Ebor

Trout stream in Ebor, NSW

After a BIG breakfast at Raymond Terrace and lunch at Bellingen members of Lakeside and Woolly Buggers Fly Fishing Clubs arrived at Ebor in the New England National park.  We had National Park accommodation in The Residence, with ample room, air-con plus outside fire pit and bbq in a very pleasant bushland setting.

The Residence in the New England National Park NSW
The Residence

We had tea at the Ebor Pub, which was the right price and quite tasty. Warren had crumbed fish because he likes anything crumbed. I suggested crumbed greens, but he declined, preferring smokes and Pepsi max.

Next morning at gentleman’s hour (timed for the morning rise ) we set out for Coutts water, where the group had success last year.

Coutts water at Ebor NSW
Coutts water

We stationed ourselves on various sections of this pleasant stream, which was running fairly clear, anticipating a big catch.

My day got off to a poor start by slipping down the bank head first into cool water.  My clothes eventually dried out but my waders and booties stayed wet all day. Fortunately things improved and I caught some reasonable size browns and rainbow trout to brighten my dampened spirits.

Brown trout caught in Coutts Water NSW
Coutts water brown trout

Tuesday was our Murray Cod excursion, after getting the good oil from the Manager of Dutton Hatchery we headed on a long journey to the Severn river west of Glen Innes.

Severn River, Glen Innes NSW
Murray Codless Severn River

We fished the stream pictured above but there was no sign of anything. Heading further west ending at Pindari dam after a lot of dust and dirt roads, I guess I got what I deserved wanting to look for cod – a flat tyre.

Thanks to all the group for their help, especially Keith, I managed to continue the holiday with no spare, thankfully getting home okay.

Back to the trout around Ebor, the fishing got harder, but we had great meals, bacon and eggs breakfasts followed by steak and veg dinners plus plenty of beer, wine and spirits to help to fortify our fishing excursions.

Coutts Water NSW
The gang at Coutts water

To be honest the others were far keener than me, fishing well after dark, with some rewards.

Thanks for the great company fishos, an excellent holiday, well organised Alex, hopefully a few more fish next time, not sure about chasing those Cod again.

Happy Angling, Alan Steege.

Wallerawang fly fishing meet 2017

Fly fishing Wallerawang

Fly fishing clubs converged at Wallerawang in May for the annual NSW Council of Freshwater Anglers (CFA) inter-club meet.

A super group of David Screen, Uncle Jim Screen, Bill Toorak and twin terrors Robert and Alan Steege represented Lakeside Fly Fishing Club (LFFC), pitting their skills against seven other fly fishing clubs. LFFC were confident with the local knowledge of Bill Toorak, our great advantage. But Bill earned himself the moniker of the PHANTOM over the weekend because he wasn’t sighted by his team members (busy with family commitments, Bill did fish on the Saturday and turn up with his catch sheet).

Robert and Dawn Steege had won a voucher for one nights stay at Rocky Waterhole BnB overlooking Lake Wallace at Wang which the brothers Robert and Alan took advantage of. Rocky Waterhole BnB is a very nice facility that we can highly recommend and no, Alan didn’t have to wear a dress.

Rocky Waterhole B&B Wallerawang
Rocky Waterhole BnB

On the way up Alan and Rob fished the Coxs River off Mckanes Falls Road for a few hours but aside from spotting a five centimeter monster, they didn’t spook a fish. After a few drinks at the old pub in Wang they invaded Peter and Dot Drinkall at the BnB, providing a nice bottle of red consumed by all, then retired for the night.

When the fog cleared after breakfast the next morning, Alan and Rob fished the Coxs river just below the Dam wall on Peter’s property. They spotted two fish but couldn’t tempt them. So Peter took them through the nearby national park to another section of the Coxs. The nice clear water looked promising, and a few small rainbows were granted a ‘long range catch and release’ i.e. nothing landed. Still,  it was a great location and nice of Peter to take the lads down there.

Lake Wallace, Wallerawang
The view of Lake Wallace from Rocky Waterhole BnB

On Friday night the official welcoming festivities were held at the Blackgold Motel in Wang and LFFC fraternised with members from other clubs, many of whom were familiar faces from club meets past.

The main day of competition dawned on Saturday bright and sunny. At least that’s how it was when Rob and Alan took to the water after most of the keen anglers had left.

Most fishos hit either Thompsons Creek Dam or the Fish river. David and Uncle Jim made for the Kowmung, a rather steep drive suited to David’s four wheel driving skills, and they both caught a few small rainbows.

Peter Drinkall let on that there were some good fish in the SECRET RIVER which also had a fair percentage of carp. The brothers Steege wrongly decided not to go to the SECRET RIVER and headed instead to the Duckmaloi where a farmer ordered them off his land, even though they gained access along the river bank.

So they checked out other stretches of river and this time they sought permission at the farm house. No one was home but points were earned for trying.

Despite low water levels a couple of decent rainbows were spotted in a deep run and Alan floated a dry right over the biggest fish’s nose, to no avail. The big fish then followed some streamers but ultimately refused.

Hedging their bets, the lads made for a proven spot on the Fish river and broke their ducks with a small rainbow each.

The clubs convened back at the Blackgold motel to share fishing stories around the barbeque. Most reported catches of small rainbows. The best fish caught was a 65 centimetre rainbow in, you guessed it, the SECRET RIVER. The largest impoundment fish was a 53 centimetre rainbow.

Sunday was land activity day, distance and accuracy casting with nine foot leaders. Competition casting is usually done with six foot leaders and LFFC gun caster, Uncle Jim, couldn’t adjust.

Fly casting Wallerawang
Robert Steege casting the distance

All the lads competed but trophies were elusive with LFFC finishing a respectable middle of the ladder. Neil Nelson from sister club Illawarra Fly Fishers snuck in some practise before hand and snagged the trophy. Well done Neil.

All up, Wang treated the LFFC lads to three days of excellent weather and good camaraderie. They’ll return next year determined to reclaim the inter-club trophy.

Skills night 2017

Fly tying at Lakeside fly fishing club
Warren tying flies

Skills night 2017 was great fun with Warren and Trevor sharing their fly tying skills, Don educating us on skagit lines and John showing off the slim beauty knot. At least that’s what it looked like but it was so slim and beautiful it was hard to see. Either that or it was too hard to see the monofilament. Next year John will be back tying the knot with something more visible.

Tying the slim beauty fishing knot
John tying the slim beauty knot
Fly tying at Lakeside fly fishing club
Trevor tying flies
Fly tying the black nymph
The black nymph