If you’re planning a Jindabyne fishing getaway, expect to have a great time. Nestled in Australia’s Snowy Mountains, the area around Jindabyne offers visiting anglers the unique opportunity to catch the many trout and salmonoid species that have been introduced over the last century in the unique surrounds of the Aussie bush.
The region sits at an elevation of around 900 metres, and with streams, rivers and lakes, fed by cold snow melt, it provides an ideal environment for prized northern hemisphere fish species. Trout have been stocked into the local waterways for decades, with a healthy self-sustaining population now thriving alongside regular re-stocking programs.
Formed in 1967 as part of the Snowy Hydro Scheme, Lake Jindabyne holds over 688,000 megalitres of water at 100% capacity. Jindabyne has the right ingredients to hold large populations of salmonoid species – a constant influx of cold oxygenated water from snow run-off, deep sections of up to 40 metres, and rocky embankments.
Anglers can catch trout in the lake using all methods. Fly fishing, casting lures, trolling lures or bait fishing are all effective, and the large variety of foreshore and underwater features provide ideal conditions for all styles of fishing.
While the large impoundments remain open to fishing year-round, the streams and waterways that feed into the Thredbo and Eucumbene rivers, and the rivers themselves, have restrictions on fishing during the trout spawning season. Check the regulations with NSW DPI for exact dates each year, but anglers are restricted to one fish over 50cm from early May until the start of the state-wide trout closed season in mid-June when a total ban on taking any river fish is in place until early October. This allows adult trout to spawn freely in the rivers and streams, ensuring a sustainable population.
It’s important to be aware of the environment being fished – even if it looks calm and peaceful, the weather in alpine regions can change very rapidly. If you are going to trek into an area to fish, be sure to have a good idea of the weather forecast beforehand. Always pack some extra thermal layers, even if it is a warmer day, and let someone know your planned route and expected return time. The water is generally quite cold even in the smaller streams. If you plan to wade or fish the shoreline take extra care – even a quick dunking can be dangerous if the weather cools quickly.
In the lake itself, water temperatures can vary greatly between the shallow flats and deeper sections, so care should always be taken to ensure no one ends up in the drink. Although a medium-sized impoundment, Lake Jindabyne can be whipped up very quickly with short, sharp waves that can be dangerous in small craft. Always keep a keen eye on the weather and head for shore if a cloud front is approaching quickly.
Suited to more experienced anglers, catching trout on fly is a challenging yet rewarding method. The Jindabyne area has a number of very experienced trout guides who can assist anglers in accessing the streams and guiding them to use the right fly to suit the conditions.
For experienced fly anglers the area offers endless options to explore and find rarely fished waters. If you intend to fish the smaller streams, plan your excursion ahead and ask permission from landholders for access to paddocks. Local tackle stores are worth stopping into for some up-to-date info on what flies and methods are working at any one time throughout the season.
Besides excellent stream fishing options, fly anglers can do very well stalking the shorelines of the lake during first and last light, when trout move up into the shallows to feed. Sight casting to cruising lake trout is a highlight for many fly anglers. For working the smaller streams and rivers, a 3-4 weight fly rod and line will suffice, while in larger waterways a 5-6 weight and larger outfit will deliver more casting distance to cover larger areas.
Casting and retrieving or trolling lures throughout the lake connects plenty of anglers with Jindabyne trout, with trolling being one of the easiest and most relaxing methods. Several guides offer lure trolling tours, where anglers can sit back and enjoy the scenery as they slowly motor around the lake waiting for a strike. The depths and lures that are effective change constantly with the weather, water levels and mood of the fish. At times, trolling small hard body or vibe lures close to shore, where the bottom rises steeply, will be the winning option, while at other times using downriggers and targeting the deeper sections of the lake with winged lures or inline spinners attracts the hits. Trolling regularly uses the aid of downriggers, which are large keeled lead weights that are clipped to the fishing line, taking it down to the required depth. This is most popular during the summer months when the trout sit in the cooler, deeper sections of the lake.
Cast and retrieve lure fishing around the shoreline accounts for plenty of trout in Jindabyne. Inline bladed spinners like the classic Mepps range are amongst the most proficient options. With a spinning blade and trailing feather tail, they mimic a wide range of terrestrial and aquatic creatures that trout feed on. Small hard body lures are effective for fishing the steeper banks, where they can still be worked up the incline to attract strikes despite short casting distances. It’s best to try hard bodies at low light times when the trout move up toward the shallower edges to feed.
Soft plastics lures have grown a solid reputation in recent years as being a great trout option. Small paddle tail minnows such as the ZMan Slim SwimZ can be worked along drop-offs and over flats to attract cruising trout. Creature bait style tails that imitate crustaceans and insects are also very effective, along with smaller curl tail grubs. The key to using soft plastics for trout in the lake is to change the distance, depth and retrieve speed of the lure until you find the combination that triggers strikes.
For more active anglers, lure fishing the streams and rivers offer up plenty of opportunities to mix it with some wild trout. Cast upstream and work lures back with the current, past structure, through deeper sections and along bankside vegetation. The headwaters of deeper pools, at the end of shallow runs, is another prime area as trout wait for insects and creatures that have been washed downstream. Using the experienced guides in the area is a great option as their local knowledge can help narrow down areas to fish and what lures are currently effective.
For casting lures a light finesse spin outfit, consisting of a 6’6″ – 7’6″ rod, 20 or 30 class spin reel and 4lb – 8lb braid or monofilament line, is ideal. As with all lure fishing, a quality fluorocarbon leader is highly recommended. These same outfits can be used for light trolling work, however, if downriggers are being used anglers will generally move to a shorter, heavier spin or bait-cast outfit, running 10lb – 15lb main line.
While a majority of experienced trout anglers use fly or lures, the casual angler can have great success fishing Jindabyne with bait. Relaxing bank side and enjoying the scenery, while waiting for a bite, is one of the most enjoyable ways to target Jindabyne trout.
Effective baits include small insects, such as mudeyes and grasshoppers, small crustaceans, and as always the good old garden variety earthworm. Artificial power baits do well too, with the small soft lumo balls being impregnated with scents and flavours that attract trout. Using some crushed corn kernels for a burley is a good idea – throw a handful in the area being fished occasionally to attract cruising fish.
When bait fishing, look to target sloping shorelines that drop away into deeper water. If there’s any structure, such as drowned trees or rocks visible, cast baits close to these areas. Shallower areas are best fished in low light, while trout will generally head for deeper sections during bright periods and on hotter days.
The same outfits used for lure fishing are ideal for using bait. Keep main lines in the 6lb – 10lb range and use a quality fluorocarbon leader of the same class. Hooks need to be quite small, in the #1 – #4 range. Fine wire hooks are a better option on trout, due to their soft mouths. Sinker weights should be kept to the minimum required to achieve casting distances, as a more natural-looking bait will appeal to wary trout better.
Bait anglers need to check local regulations, as bait fishing is not permitted in some streams and rivers. However, bait fishing is allowed year-round in the lake itself and accounts for plenty of good-sized trout.
Visitors to the Jindabyne region are treated to some of Australia’s most epic natural scenery, with snow-covered peaks and untouched bushland. For travellers who enjoy exploring the waterways and having a fish, this area offers even further amazing experiences, with a very prolific population of trout available in the main lake, along with the pristine streams and rivers that feed into it. If you are heading to the Jindabyne area for a holiday, adding a small spin outfit or fly combo opens up more possibilities for adventure while enjoying the world-class trout fishing on offer.