Tumut – Jounama Creek and the Goobarragandra River – 10 May 2014

Saturday

I woke to a cold grey morning in Tumut. I am used to fishing early but I had been advised that dawn is less good for trout fishing than dusk. I took the advice to heart and had a lie in …. until 7.30 am. By then I had to test the theory. I drove down to Junction Park on the Tumut River, parked and walked back across the bridge. This spot is where the Tumut and Goobarrangandra Rivers meet. There is a bridge across the river and a small park. The Tumut River is wide and fairly shallow but there are some deeper pools, near the bridge.

You can fish a fair way along the Tumut side of the river and I climbed the steps over the fence and set off along the bank. The sun was trying to come out and it was about 5 degrees. I had a warm hat on and a couple of layers of fleece, but soon everything felt cold. I fished from the bank with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Rainbow colour and then swapped to a GULP 3” Jigging Grub in the Peppered Prawn colour. The latter provoked a few bites but I could not hook up. By about 9.00 am I was still fishless, so I drove back in to Tumut for a bacon sandwich and a coffee.

At about 10.00 am I had warmed up, so I drove further up the Snowy Mountains Highway in the direction of Yarrangobilly.  The road runs alongside Blowering Reservoir. At Talbingo I noticed a small creek running down in to the reservoir. I turned off on to the track and followed it up hill, as it ran parallel to the stream. I later figured out this was Jounama Creek. I walked up it for about an hour, casting around, first with soft plastics and then with a few small hard bodied lures, but I could not find any fish. There were lots of pools, but there was not much water over the rocky bottom in places – perhaps there was not enough water for the trout to get up here. I am still very much a novice at this type of fishing, but I work on the principle that any body of water is worth casting at. At about noon, I turned around and walked back to the car. The scenery was fantastic but the fish were elusive.

 

 

I drove back down through Tumut and out, along the Goobarragandra River again. Through the afternoon I fished a selection of spots. I had a couple of hits on the soft plastics but did not catch anything. Then I found myself on what looked like very fishy section of river. The bank had turned rocky on both sides, channelling fast flowing water in between.  I gave up on the Rapala F3 and switched to the DUO Tetra Works Toto 48. This is a 48mm sinking, bibbed minnow, from my favourite Japanese lure manufacturer. It has the usual DUO hallmarks – brilliant finish and colours, great balance for casting and a startling action. The first one I tied on was in the zebra glow rainbow colour (white stripes on silver). Almost as soon as it hot the water, I watched a fish come out from beside a rock and follow the lure all the way back to me. This happened three times. On the next cast, I jerked the lure a bit more aggressively and bang, the trout struck. It was on, it jumped….,it was off. I was getting frustrated and a couple of casts later, I lost the lure to the trees, on the far bank.

I looked through the tackle bag – one more DUO Tetra Works Toto 48 left – in the red gold colour. I tied it on and moved upstream. I was in the right spot now or I had finally selected the right lure. I saw a few more fish follow the lure and once more, by speeding up, I triggered a strike. This time the fish stayed on. It was only a small brown, but I was delighted to bring it ashore.

I carried on upstream and caught another brown, about 10 metres further on. This time I hooked myself as well as the fish. I found my pliers, released the fish and then bit hard as I pulled the treble out. It had clouded over and fortunately my hand was numb from the cold water.

It slowly started to rain and as I moved up stream, I caught another small brown on the same lure. Then disaster struck – the lure caught on a tree branch, on the far bank. It was out of reach so I had to leave it. The rain was picking up and I was knackered so I gave up for the day.

That was it for me, as I was on the early flight back to Brisbane, the next morning. I had thoroughly enjoyed catching my first trout on mainland Australia.

Tumut – the Goobarragandra River – 9 May 2014

Friday

Every cloud has a silver lining and last weekend work left me in Tumut, at the base of the Snowy Mountains, about 2 ½ hours drive from Canberra, on Friday afternoon. The weather forecast was for a few showers over the weekend and it was cold – about 3 Celsius, up to a top of about 20. But Friday afternoon was beautiful, with bright sunshine and no wind.

I have never traveled down here before. At this time of year, the trees form a bright tapestry of colours that brought back memories of Octobers in England. I have not experienced a real autumn for a while. I do not miss the rain or cold but the colours are fantastic.

I changed my flights home, found a motel in Tumut and decided to fish the nearby streams. First stop was the local tackle shop – to buy everything (I had not planned to fish). When I say I had not planned to fish, I do always have a packed bag of small DUO lures, soft plastics, and an old spooled up Shimano Stradic 2500, that goes everywhere – just in case. Barry from Tumut Fishing, Camping and Outdoor, on Wynyard Street, soon sorted me out. He is a helpful and friendly cove and has a full range of tackle. I ended up a few hundred dollars lighter with a nice, light 6’ NS Blackhole Trout rod, some thigh waders and few other bits and pieces. I do this quite often when I am on the road. It is my way of directly supporting regional small business. Joe Hockey should really give me some kind of regional development grant. I suppose, theoretically it would be a tax deduction, but I would have to make enough money to pay tax, from my fishing exploits, first. At present, that seems fairly unlikely.

Barry suggested the Tumut River or any of the other local streams and explained that the trout should be sitting near the fast, oxygenated water, at this time of year, looking for whatever prey comes by. When I pressed him for more specific locations he said they could be pretty much anywhere along the river. Although the local rivers were quite low they were, apparently, still deep enough to hold fish.

 

 

I had a look at the map and did a quick survey of fishing forums for any local advice. I decided to drive out of Tumut and fish in the Goobarragandra River, which is only 30 minutes away. At this time of year it is a shallow, fast running, rocky bottomed stream that pelts down a narrow valley.  I wanted to fish the fast water in the upper reaches. There a number of points where you can access the water from Goobarragandra Road. I drove upstream and stopped at the first point where I could park. near the river bank. I surveyed the stream and cast a small Rapala F3 floating hard body, at some likely looking pools. I got the hang of the new rod and moved slowly upstream. The water was bracingly cold but the sun was out and the scenery was fantastic. I fished for about an hour with no luck. So I went back to the car and drove further upstream.

I stopped at an accessible stretch of river just before the trout farm. When the river got wider, I would wade in the shallows. When it was narrow, I tried to stay on the bank. I saw I couple of fish following the Rapala F3, but I could not get them to strike.

I reached an area where the stream narrowed and ran fast, against some big rocks on the far bank. I swapped to a soft plastic – a GULP 3” Minnow in the Rainbow colour. I put it on a 1/12th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was fishing with 6lb fluorocarbon leader. It was about 4.15 pm. There was a big boulder mid-stream. As I hopped the soft plastic past it, a fish came up on the lure and I saw its tail break the surface. A few casts later, I was hopping the lure past the boulder again and this time, the fish grabbed it.

I had forgotten how ballistic trout go and I was instantly worried about the 6lb leader. Once I pulled the fish out of the main flow it was easier to control and I soon got it into the shallows, at my feet. It was a nice small brown trout between, 30 and 35cm long.

I now had only about 30 mins of good daylight. I moved further upstream to an area of very shallow fast moving water and started casting and hopping the plastic down along the bottom. The water was moving so fast that I did not need to do much. I just took up the slack after each cast and flicked the rod tip up a few times. I got snagged often but was usually able to move up stream and release the jighead from the rocks.

Just as I was about to give up, a small rainbow trout leapt out of the white water with the minnow soft plastic firmly lodged in the corner of it mouth. I landed it, took a picture of it and let it swim away.

It was the perfect end to my session and I headed back to the motel to thaw out.