Winter Fly Fishing in the Snowy Mountains
Written by Mickey Finn.
Put yourself in the shoes, and/or fins of a big brown trout that’s made an epic voyage over early winter. You’ve smelt the late autumn rain, seen the first of the winter snow and have been driven on a journey that in human terms could be described as walking barefoot from the Snowy Mountains to the Queensland coast. Which we’d all do if it was possibly the only chance we’d get to mate in our lives.
After the next generation has been secured, you feel the fatigue set in and drift with the current, exhausted. Eventually you make your way back down whatever mighty river you ran up, back to the lake you call home. Like all living things, once one craving is satisfied the next sets in. Now you need to feed.
Big brown trout go through this cycle every year. Generally, they are paid the greatest attention when they are at their most vulnerable; running up rivers to spawn and get caught in great bottle-necks where anglers take advantage of these migrations. However, for the hardy folks that are prepared to endure Snowy Mountains winter storms, frozen waves breaking over the bows of small boats and the occasional sunny day where the main threat is winter sunburn, these fish are there to be had all winter as they feed up hard after their run.
Winter trout are predators looking to put the maximum weight back on in the shortest period. In short, they hunt down, kill and consume the largest prey they can get their mouths around in the wintertime. So we tie on the biggest trout flies we have and get after them. Takes are often vicious and will sometimes have the same fish coming multiple times for the fly. In the clear winter water you can watch it all happen. If you’re lucky and hit the right conditions there is a real possibility to encounter a trophy trout in the middle of a calm winter’s day, destroying a streamer within feet of your boat.
Even if you come back empty handed, you usually get to see a few buzzing the streamer, trying to scare it to death before refusing it for some unknown reason. At the very least, you get to get out of the house and go fishing for trout. An opportunity very accessible to us here in Tumut and with a bit of research (or just ask us), available to many.
Now, go tie on some big flies and get after a trophy-winter-streamer-eater.